NCCRs: 100 female researchers step into the limelight

A video campaign by the National Centres of Competence in Research of the SNSF has highlighted the important contributions of women in all areas of Swiss research.

They are physicists, biologists, engineers and linguists: a large number of women are contributing to the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs), at the cutting edge of research of strategic importance to Switzerland. In the anniversary year of women's suffrage, the 22 current NCCRs joined forces and ran #NCCRWomen, a video campaign on Youtube and Instagram which highlighted the important contributions of women across all areas of Swiss research. The primary objective was to provide role models for young women at upper secondary schools and at the start of their university studies: "Women are still under-represented in science," explains Elise Cahard, a member of the committee that coordinated the campaign. "But we wanted to show that they are very much there, doing important work on a wide range of subjects."

Nearly 100,000 views

The NCCRs, launched by the SNSF on behalf of the federal government, are dedicated not only to cutting-edge research, but also to gender equality and the promotion of young scientists. Between 8 March 2021 (International Women's Day) and 31 October 2021 (50th anniversary of the first Swiss election in which women could vote), a hundred or so female researchers could be seen in short video clips shared on social media. They talk about themselves and their research work and explain their motivation. The videos, shared by the NCCRs, higher education institutions, gender equality initiatives and media partners, generated nearly 100,000 views in all: a notable success for this first collaboration between all ongoing NCCRs.

Further initiatives envisaged

But the adventure doesn't end there. The #NCCRWomen campaign has given rise to a new initiative: with "A researcher in my classroom", teachers at upper secondary schools now get the chance to book a female researcher from an NCCR to give a presentation. Other projects could be in the pipeline: "Those involved in the campaign are interested in continuing the collaboration," says Elise Cahard, "though what form this will take remains open."