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Call to join the decentralized science movement

Authors:
Portugal: female
science leaders could
speed up change
Faculty members at Portuguese
universities have not
unanimously welcomed the
government’s programmes to
attract young researchers and
provide them with more stable
employment opportunities.
These funding schemes,
including the Foundation for
Science and Technology’s
investigator programme and
its Individual Call to Scientific
Employment Stimulus, are
allowing early-career scientists
to build strong research teams
and to acquire international
funding.
In my experience, opposition
stems mainly from university
professors who consider that
the programmes give their
junior colleagues an unfair
advantage. The researchers
who benefit from the schemes
have no compulsory teaching
duties. And the incomes of those
who achieve senior research
positions can rapidly equal or
even surpass the earnings of
Call to join the
decentralized
science movement
The decentralized science
(DeSci) movement aims to
harness new technologies
such as blockchain and ‘Web3
to address some important
research pain points, silos
and bottlenecks. However, it
is happening with little input
from established academic
communities.
Example projects include
efficient peer-to-peer data
storage (using file systems such
as IPFS; https://ipfs.io), token-
based incentive mechanisms
for peer review (B. Trovò and
N.Massari Euro-Par 2020
https://doi.org/g73f; 2021),
and improved mechanisms
for funding research
(https://sciencefund.io) and
replicating studies (go.nature.
com/3rjpoh3).
This work is spearheaded by
online communities in a loose
network of science-focused
decentralized autonomous
organizations (DAOs) such as
Ants-Review, Blockchain for
Science, DeSciDAO, Opscientia,
Planetary Resilience DAO,
ResearchHub and VitaDAO. In
October 2021, the community-
led Web3 conference LisCon
featured DeSci speakers.
The movement is not
dominated by any one field, but
it will benefit greatly at this early
stage from the participation
of scientists from diverse
disciplines. Those interested
can join or initiate a DAO. A
thorough review of the DeSci
landscape and its implications
would promote open discussion
on the impact of these new
technologies on scientific
research.
Sarah Hamburg London, UK.
s.hamburg@ucl.ac.uk
S.H. declares competing interests.
See go.nature.com/3rfzfsq
Are female science
leaders judged more
harshly than men?
Study it.
The open letter from 145 leading
female scientists calling on
Germany’s Max Planck Society
to identify and address issues
that might have contributed to
the sanctioning or downgrading
of highly successful female
directors (see Nature 600,
20; 2021) raises an important
question. Are there systemic
biases at play in many such
institutions that affect even
those women who make it to the
end of the leaky pipeline?
We have a good
understanding of the obstacles
women face early in their
scientific careers. Much less
is known about what happens
to the women who reach the
highest ranks of research (see
go.nature.com/3i4hjvn). One of
the few existing studies suggests
that women foresee spending
shorter periods in such roles
than men (P.O’Connor Gender
Educ. 27, 3, 304–319; 2015).
Another shows that female and
male workers experience much
larger negative effects from
criticism delivered by a female
manager than by a male one (see
go.nature.com/3e8ib9v).
Are senior female scientists
judged more harshly than
men? Do they fear allegations
of leadership shortcomings
and threats of sanctions more
than men do? In our view, every
institution (including Nature)
should survey women and men
in top science positions about
such issues urgently.
Martina Schraudner Fraunhofer
Center for Responsible Research
and Innovation, Berlin, Germany.
Elizabeth Pollitzer Portia Ltd,
London, UK.
ep@portiaweb.org.uk
Materials scientist Liliana Tomé, winner of a 2021 LOréal Portugal
Medal of Honor for Women in Science.
established professors.
Most university professors
in Portugal are men, whereas
the majority of the junior
researchers hired under these
schemes happen to be women.
Such employment stimuli are
important because they help
to provide young women with
the support they need to reach
senior positions, encouraging
more of them into scientific
careers. This could enable
Portuguese universities to
achieve gender equality at last.
Paulo Cartaxana University
of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal.
pcartaxana@ua.pt
Nature | Vo  |  December  | 221
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L’ORÉAL PORTUGAL MEDALS OF HONOR FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE
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