Through a diverse range of activities, NCCR Robotics works to bring a culture of equality and inclusiveness in the robotics community at large.
Lunch events provide female researchers with opportunities to get insights into different careers and to interact with role models from academia, industry, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Several events have been co-organised by NCCR Robotics and the EPFL Equal Opportunities office, and have been advertised to female PhD students and Postdocs at NCCR Robotics.
In 2018, for example, two conferences were held at the EPFL Collège des Humanités, dealing with issues of harassment and of being LGBT at work. Since 2018, NCCR Robotics has started to sponsor networking/lunch meetings at ETH Zurich especially oriented to female researches in the robotics field – starting with a lunch with Prof. Katherine Kuchenbecker from the Max Planck Institute on Stuttgart, Germany. In 2019, we organised lunch events with Prof. Dr. Heike Vallery from TU Delft (at ETH Zurich) and with Prof. Radhika Nagpal from Harvard University (at EPFL).
We also work to address gender bias inside our own consortium, and in 2018 we invited to our annual retreat Professor Marianne Schmid Mast, from the University of Lausanne, to discuss unconscious gender bias in the academia and how it impacts the career of female researchers.
During 2019 we established a programme for supporting NCCR Robotics PIs who organize events in Switzerland and aim to invite women keynote speakers. Because of the pandemic’s impact on events worldwide, this opportunity has not been used extensively yet.
In November 2019, we participated in a meeting organised by the SNSF on Equal Opportunities practices with all the NCCR programs, where Prof. Laura Marchal-Crespo (then chair of the NCCR Robotics EO committee) presented our efforts and initiatives.
Finally, in evaluating proposals to our internal calls for collaborative research projects, we place high value on the diversity and gender balance of the team behind each proposal.