Equal opportunity (EO) measures

Although women have been gaining ground at LIVES, particularly as doctoral candidates, women remain underrepresented in the upper echelons of academia. This observation corroborates the results of larger-scale surveys undertaken at Swiss universities, particularly the University of Geneva and the University of Lausanne.

Since it was founded, support for women's careers has been a priority at NCCR LIVES, which puts forward and implements several measures for supporting equality:

  • Ensure that recruitment complies with the Equality Directives and the Action Plans adopted by LIVES' host universities, (Lausanne and Geneva)
  • Provide all senior employees the opportunity to participate in an equality awareness workshop.
  • Encourage female employees (both junior and senior) to participate in at least one of the women's career promotion programmes available at the universities they are affiliated with.
  • Inform all employees about the parenting support programmes made available to them by the host universities, the SNSF and the NCCR LIVES
  • Include training on gender issues within the activities of the LIVES doctoral programme

Actions of LIVES Equality programme are offered to all members of the NCCR registered in NIRA (the NCCR Integrated Reporting Application of the SNSF), i.e. persons dedicating a minimum of 10% of their time to the NCCR, and all doctoral students of the Doctoral Programme. In case of doubt, please contact the Equality Officer to check if you are eligible.

Contact : Sabine.KradolferMorales@unil.ch or equality@lives-nccr.ch

Promotion of equality starts with the doctorate. In 2011, 73 percent of LIVES doctoral candidates were women. However, women represent only 38 percent of the NCCR's advanced researchers.

As beginning researchers, women doctoral candidates are the first to benefit from measures implemented by LIVES to enhance the development of their academic career. There are many measures for assisting doctoral candidates along their way.

The various equality offices in academia are implementing a large number of programmes to promote equality and support the next generation of women.

  • Mentoring network of French-speaking Switzerland: for women finishing their doctorate or recently hired for academic and/or scientific posts in French-speaking Switzerland.
  • REGARD workshops: continuous training workshops for women in academia and at the University of applied sciences in French-speaking Switzerland.
  • Dual Career Couples: for couples where both partners have university degrees or equivalent, and wish to pursue an academic career at a Swiss university.
  • “Tremplin” grants/subsidies (UNILUNIGE): for doctoral candidates who are completing their thesis, post-doctoral candidates, lecturers and instructors who do not have tenure and are aiming for an academic career. The candidates must hold a paid position at a Swiss university).
  • Mentoring the next generation of academics: For women who are doctoral candidates or associate teaching staff and/or post-doctoral candidates at the University of Geneva. The doctoral candidates must have begun their dissertation at least two years previously.

More information on the doctoral and post-doctoral programs, academic careers and their alternatives, etc., is also available at the Portal for young academics.

Additionally, the equality offices of the colleges of applied sciences in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland (BULA) have created an FAQ section (in French) that answers common questions on topics such as maternity, career, flexitime at work and school, etc.

In addition to the parental assistance programs set up by the equality offices at the universities of Geneva and Lausanne, the LIVES center offers four further measures to support parents:

  • Extension of paternity leave from one (as set out in law) to two paid weeks for all fathers employed by the LIVES center who become parents during their contracts. This leave must be taken within a month of the birth or adoption of the child. This measure allows fathers to get further involved in the responsibilities of parenting. It also reduces the pressure on women who have gone through a pregnancy and helps combat the widespread idea that pregnancy and children are for women to deal with. As a measure like this needs to be included in the relevant institution's legal framework, each application will be dealt with individually and a custom solution will be arrived at for each case.
    More information for LIVES members
  • Making out a "childcare check" to LIVES parents who have to participate in a scientific activity associated with the NCCR (doctoral programme, meeting, NCCR Day, etc.) allows them to finance additionnal childcare during that activity. This measure is meant to make it easier for LIVES parents to take part in these events.
    More information for LIVES members
  • Financial support for extra travel and stay costs related to child care and custody for LIVES parents participating to a scientific activity in Switzerland or abroad (conference, congress, etc.) who wish to travel with their child(ren) and an extra person who will take care of the child(ren).
    More information for LIVES members
  • Implementation at the LIVES NCCR of the "Guidelines for flexible working practices" regarding organization of work (meeting times, home working, vacation calendar). These best practices are meant to prevent employees from having to justify their desire to maintain a balance between work and family. This measure is also intended to combat the stereotypes associated with parenting, and the stigmatization of parents, while creating a work environment more conducive to a balance between employment and private life.

Contact: Sabine.KradolferMorales@unil.ch or equality@lives-nccr.ch

LIVES collaborates with the equal opportunity offices at the University of Lausanne and the University of Geneva to offer its employees of both sexes a number of measures to support parenting, and information and the means to better reconcile work and family life:

The SNSF offers flexibility grants aimed at PhD students and postdoctoral researchers who need to look after children. The applicants are employed with a work-time percentage of at least 80% in a NCCR, they are pursuing an academic career and are the main carer (as of 50%) of their children until the beginning of their compulsory education (incl. compulsory Kindergarden). For more information, see the intranet.

For more information: equality@lives-nccr.ch


Gender inequalities

This video produced in 2018 tells the story of the life course of a woman in Switzerland. It shows the different steps which may lead from a worry-free childhood to vulnerability at old age. 

Misleading norms from LIVES on Vimeo.



LIVES' phd students analyse the "Startingdoc" mentoring programme

For parents

Guides for PhD students and postdocs

With the help of the federal program for equal opportunity for women and men, the equality offices of the Swiss universities (BULA) offer two very useful guides for doctoral candidates and for postdocs.

Guide - Getting your thesis off to a good start    Guide - Beyond the doctorate


Texts, videos and other resources regarding the integration of gender issues in research.  

Conflict management policy

The LIVES Centre encourages anyone involved in a difficult work or study situation to try to use dialog and mediation to arrive at a solution before the conflict escalates. LIVES conflict management policy.