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Inception Workshop kicks off the Early Career Women Scientists Fellowships Programme

November 29, 2017

Workshop brought together OWSD alumnae with academic, industry and donor representatives to develop the new ECWS fellowship.

From 19-24 November, OWSD and IDRC brought together a group of OWSD alumnae with representatives from universities, research funding organizations, development agencies and other stakeholders at the OWSD Secretariat in Trieste, Italy for a weeklong Inception Workshop for the new OWSD-IDRC Early Career Women Scientists (ECWS) fellowship programme.

This workshop aimed to understand various challenges facing early career women scientists in the developing world in order to help OWSD and IDRC tailor the new ECWS fellowship to their specific needs and maximize the impact of the new programme. Interspersed with presentations from the invited experts on different aspects of scientific leadership, from coping with rejection to writing a grant proposal to commercializing research products, the participants worked in groups to propose and refine research projects for the new fellowship.

The feedback from the workshop participants was instrumental in forming a list of eligible expenses which may be covered under the Research Activities portion of the ECWS fellowship, which is intended to be flexible enough to meet the needs of scientists in widely varying disciplines and research environments, including such expenses as stipends for graduate students, training in specialized equipment or skills, and childcare for scientists with young children. The Research Activities grant of USD 40,000 will complement an Equipment Grant of USD 10,000; the fellowship will also include travel to and participation in two skills-building workshops.

Participants in the workshop felt that it helped them greatly in understanding how to craft a successful research grant proposal, particularly in areas such as how to connect their research with potential impact and with issues such as sustainable development that are important to funders. Additionally, they came away with a deeper understanding of how to manage a research team and project, including how to balance research with teaching and administrative responsibilities. Said one participant, “I think this is the beginning of what we really need as alumnae; we need to get that startup seed grant to help us make substantial research which can contribute tangible products in the national and international arena.”

The first Call for Applications for the new ECWS fellowship programme will open in March 2018. More information regarding eligibility and selection criteria will be made available on the OWSD website and through the OWSD mailing list in January 2018.