Q: The first two calls have been criticized because the vast majority of the grants went to scientists from northwest Europe and to men. Do you see that as a problem?
A.M.-C.: It's true that the twelve countries who recently joined the European Union had very low success rates. What can we do about it? Let me tell you what we can't do: change the rules. We are driven by excellence, and that will not change. That said, I think the situation is bound to improve. Countries can use other forms of financing, such as the E.U.'s structural funds, to improve their scientific infrastructure. Spain has done that for over 15 years and Spain is not doing badly in the grants. Eastern Europe has a deep scientific tradition and there's no reason to believe they are not capable of winning grants.
The situation with women is different, and we need improvement. But you have to distinguish two different things: the submission of grants and the selection process. For the 2007 Starters Grants, 30% of the submissions came from women; it's even a bit lower, 28.8%, in the 2009 round, whose numbers have not yet been announced. For the 2008 Advanced Grants, it was 14%. Those numbers are worrisome, and we will keep campaigning and networking to increase the percentage. As to the selection, 26% of the Starters Grants went to women, and 11.6% of the Advanced Grants.