Gender Equality Forum


The European Sleep Research Society (ESRS) Gender Equality Forum (GEF) is a taskforce for both early career and senior scientists of both genders that are interested in identifying specific areas where gender equality has not yet been achieved and developing strategies to tackle these areas in a combined effort.

The GEF aims to:

  • Provide an open forum through e-mail communication and during get-togethers at ESRS meetings
  • Support female researchers
    • create local support groups for women scientists in different countries
    • arrange seminars to provide information on women’s career development and possibilities
    • encourage women to choose science as their career, and encourage young women scientists to establish independent research careers
    • assist women scientists to obtain research funding
    • create a senior researcher network, where a young scientist can choose a mentor
  • Encourage scientific research pertaining to issues concerning women’s health including normal sleep and sleep disorders

GEF Leadership

New Chairwoman Dr. Caroline Lustenberger is a SNSF Ambizione group leader at the ETH Zurich, where she develops advanced tools for sleep brain activity modulation and currently studies the role of sleep slow waves in cardiovascular health in humans. Dr. Lustenberger believes open and inclusive exchange among scientists is essential to tear down barriers that hinder gender equality.

Join the GEF

The GEF has just launched a call for effective members to become a part of a new taskforce. Do not miss this opportunity to help balance the gender scales in (sleep) science. For more information on what will be expected of effective members and how to apply, peruse the announcement here. Applications will be accepted until 31-July 2021. 

Persons who wish to be included in the mailing list are requested to send their email address to:


The ESRS Forum for Women in Sleep Research was founded by Irene Tobler, Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen and Myriam Kerkhofs. The idea for the Forum evolved from the women’s discussion group Women in Sleep and Rhythm Research (WiSRR) which met each year at the Association of Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) congress. Many colleagues had not attended the sleep meeting in the USA, therefore a women’s discussion group was initiated at meetings of the ESRS.

During the ESRS Business Meeting in Istanbul in 2000, president of the ESRS Michel Billiard proposed that the Forum become a working group within the framework of the ESRS. This marked the official acceptance of the Forum by the business meeting. Since this time, meetings of the Forum have been included in the official program of each ESRS Congress.

At first announcement, the Forum was given the title of Forum for European Women in Sleep Research. In 2021, it was decided to rename the Forum to the ESRS Gender Equality Forum to reflect the inclusion of researchers of both genders operating within Europe and beyond, in the effort to attain gender equality in science.

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