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CAROLINE: Creating A Network on Female Pioneers

Start date

February 2023

End date

July 2023


An ESRC IAA project, funded through the Impact Exploration Fund, is being led by Dr Simona Guerra a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the University of Surrey.

Dr Guerra’s project, ‘CAROLINE’ (Creating A Network On Female Pioneers) aims to develop and consolidate a network of EU officials and experts, around the life of the European female pioneers to promote their presence and relevance in the history of European integration. The network will provide opportunities for exhibitions, talks, podcasts and support towards gender policy promotion.

Simona’s current research at the University of Surrey is exploring the lack of women in the history of European integration. Textbooks and the narrative on the early stages of the European integration process still seem to downplay the role of women, in particular during the early years (Milosevic 2018).

There is much literature about the Founding Fathers and main (male) politician of the early years of EU studies, but very little reference exists to women, who are often considered irrelevant in the politics of the past.

Dr Guerra says about the project; "There is a problematic deficit in European studies that does not seem to be justified. It is recognized and acknowledged, and, still, we continue to learn the history and politics of the EU in the same way, by repeating and transmitting the same bias. It is up to us, as researchers, to get to know the work of these women, as makers and shapers of European integration, and to write about them."

This is critical and it matters, as ‘what we choose to acknowledge about the past matters’ (Carr and Lipscomb, 2021, p. 10). If we do not write about these women, they are not there. ‘[If w]e don’t look for them. Then we don’t find them. And they deserve to be found.’ (Moland, 2023) The writer selects and identifies what is to be told, that further needs to be consistently interrogated and reinterpreted (Carr and Lipscomb, 2021).

CAROLINE addresses the structural lack of women’s representation in what is often called ‘his-story’ whilst also bringing these women to light through expert reviews of original documentation of their political activities at the European Parliament Archive.

Dr Guerra seeks to create more interest and debates around these women as pioneers of European democracy and integration, so to increase young women’s interest and general knowledge about the EU, while influencing how we, as scholars, talk and teach students about the European Union.



CAROLINE is already achieving the following short-term impact:


  • On Yesterday’s EU Women for Today’s EU Studies – under review
  • An introduction to European female pioneers - under review

-Talks on the first 12 women of European integration (already agreed: University of Luxembourg, 20 April 2023; John Cabot University, Rome, 31 May 2023)

-Contribution/Summary of the work done for the European Parliament Research Service

-Possible organization of an exhibition

-Two further papers that, with the first two manuscripts, will provide the main structure for a monograph submission

In the long term, through the CAROLINE Network, Dr Guerra hopes to influence how the EU presents itself through printed collateral available within the EU building, pages on the EU websites, contributions to podcasts on the great speeches that made Europe, and publications within the institutions themselves.

The network will organise talks and workshops, and will pursue a funding grant to ignite long term impact on how we learn and talk about our past in Europe, drawing attention to women as pioneers of European democracy and integration.

Dr Guerra hopes to engage young women in politics, and inspire a change in the way women socialise, study and research with the EU, through new chapters on the female pioneers in textbooks and the promotion of her book which she hopes will be translated and available across the EU member states.