Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Ensuring that EMBL leads by example as a fair, diverse and inclusive workplace

Leadership and Excellence for Aspiring Postdocs

LEAP – Leadership and Excellence for Aspiring Postdocs is a Mentorship and Coaching Programme with external mentors tailored for female postdocs who want to pursue a career in academia. 

The LEAP Mentorship Programme will provide advanced training and personal support to female post-doctoral fellows to support them in their aspirations to Group Leaders/Principle investigators/Assistant Professors in their field. The programme is part of EMBL’s larger commitment to advance the leadership role of women in science. Scientific institutions have faced challenges in attracting and retaining women in senior academic roles. While the ratio of female to male scientists is roughly equal for females at the Ph.D. level (or even higher: 60% at EMBL), many women decide not to pursue a Group Leader/Professorship position following their postdoctoral studies. This results in a strong gender imbalance in the number of applicants for academic faculty positions, often referred to as the ‘leaky pipeline’. It is imperative to address this leaky pipeline as academic institutions are, at present, losing a large proportion of the potential talent pool and even a small increase in the number of women applying for academic faculty positions could have a major impact on the quality and diversity of academic science.

By increasing the percentage of female EMBL postdoctoral fellows who pursue and obtain Group Leader/Professorship positions in academia and providing more talented and motivated women scientists to the faculty recruitment pools of member states,  the programme aims to boost research in our member states . It could also have the knock-on benefit of attracting more women to pursue postdoctoral training at EMBL.

LEAP 1 was implemented between January 2021 and September 2021 with a first cohort of 23 women postdocs from different research fields and sites at EMBL.

The call for applications for LEAP 2 was launched on International Women’s Day on the 8thof March 2022. Over and above supporting women postdocs in accessing leadership roles, LEAP 2 encompasses toolkits to enable participants to become agents of change with regards to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. LEAP 2 would enable them to ‘break the bias’ (2022 International Women’s Day theme) and create ripple effects, through an inclusive leadership model. This initiative is in line with the EDI Strategy which seeks to seed EDI cultures developed at EMBL to member states and other countries through alumni.

LEAP 1 (2021) was supported by members of the Friends of EMBL Programme and individual donors: Alev Baur, Bettina Bock, and Ursula Blaum.  LEAP 2 (2022) has been funded by Eppendorf and individual donors: Alev Baur and Ursula Blaum.