FWF profile

Since 2013, the FWF attained a fairly balanced ratio between women and men in its decision-making bodies. At the beginning of 2016 the share of women appointed to the Supervisory Board, and the Executive Board is 50%. The Assembly of Delegates has a share of 36% and the 39% share of women on the FWF Board exceeds the percentage of female applicants for FWF funding. The share of women on the FWF's staff is 69%, and the organisation employs an above-average share of women at all levels of its hierarchy. All four of the FWF's specialist departments and two of the three Vice-Presidents are women, as is  the Executive Vice-President. Women head three of the FWF's six service departments, while the three strategy departments are headed by men.

 Body / FWF office*
Total employeesNumber of womenNumber of men
Executive Board422
Supervisory Board1)1055
FWF Board Biological
and Medical Sciences2)
FWF Board Humanities
and Social Sciences2)
FWF Board Natural
and Technical Sciences2)
Assembly of Delegates1)592138
International START/
Wittgenstein Jury
PEEK Board633
Science Communication
Programme Jury

*At 31.03.2016; 1) eligible voters; 2) excluding Executive Board; 3) marginal part-time work, independent employees, excluding employees on leave

The Organisation of the FWF

FWF applicants and principal investigators

In 2005, the share of women applicants who requested funding from the FWF was approximately 20,4%. By 2015, this figure had risen to 31,6 %. In absolute terms, the FWF managed to increase the number of applicants by 50% over the period in question. Approval rates for women and men have been recorded, processed and published separately each year since 2009; these figures are reported in the FWF's annual report, which gives a comprehensive overview of participation and funding statistics for all FWF programmes.

The approval rates for women and men fluctuate each year. The FWF itself says:
"The share of female applicants has increased drastically in recent years, so that we can expect a share of one-third or more in the medium term. Nevertheless, between 1998 and 2008 the overall approval rate for stand-alone projects was lower for women than for men. The reasons for this development are most probably not related to the decision-making process (including the peer review procedure), but to the underrepresentation of women in certain disciplines, to additional (especially family-related) burdens during periods which are decisive to one's career, and to the higher proportion of unstable employment relationships."

In a number of analyses, the FWF has examined this situation carefully and plans to make efforts to address statistically relevant differences within specific disciplines (see also FIX the institutions, Monitoring Equal Opportunities)

FWF Annual Reports

Career development for women in science and research

The FWF also places special emphasis on the career development of women researchers. Thus, the ESPRIT programme, which is addressed to highly qualified postdocs from all disciplines at the beginning of their academic career, is designed to prioritise the promotion of women’s careers. At all stages of the programme, from the submission of applications to the reaching of decisions to the implementation of the projects, various steps have been taken to ensure equal opportunities. These include, for instance, transparent and objective evaluation criteria, which also take the personal situations of researchers into consideration; budgetary measures, such as reserving half of the ESPRIT project grants for women; and increasing the supporting measures for the promotion of women that have proven to be effective in the previous programmes for women researchers.

The potentially following Elise Richter Programme for senior postdocs and the Elise Richter Programme for arts-based research, Elise Richter PEEK, have been designed as a specific funding measure for women in science and research and aim at providing women researchers with the qualifications necessary to apply for professorships in Austria and abroad.

To support the visibility of women, the female principal investigators from both programmes take part in an annual public ceremony where they are presented with their funding awards. These positions lead to internationally visible research achievements as well as outstanding projects, thus helping women to pursue academic careers in Austria, acquire higher qualifications, and establish themselves more firmly at their respective research institutions.

"Frau in der Wissenschaft" (Women in Science and Research) series in FWF Info

The first interview with Gudrun Höck from the Museum of Natural History in Vienna marked the launch of a new feature in the FWF's Info magazine, and this tradition has continued ever since. In this section of the magazine, female researchers serving as FWF project leaders in a wide variety of disciplines and project types discuss their work and their experience as women in their research activities. The interviews focus on what these women experience in the field of science and research, what fosters their progress, what stands in their way, and how they manage to handle the demands of family and career in research. The series clearly increases the visibility of women as principal investigators in research projects in Austria. Since 2005, more than 39 women have been interviewed.

FWF-info: Frau in der Wissenschaft (Women in Science and Research)


The FWF's coaching workshops are the organisation's most direct and interactive means of conveying information on its processes and procedures. The workshops provide a maximum of 20 participants with an opportunity to study the "FWF funding machine" intensively for a full day. Through interactive exercises based on practical examples, participants gain a clear picture of the general framework and procedures involved in the FWF's work, details on the application process, peer review procedure and decision-making processes, as well as information on project execution.

The FWF also holds tailored workshops for female applicants, which include the above-mentioned information as well as specific details on the FWF's career development program for women in science and research. In addition, these workshops are designed to create a separate space for the exchange of information and experiences among female researchers.

FWF Coaching Workshops