Structures to support gender equality work
Structures to support gender equality work are dedicated organisational arrangements (unit, office, network, service, …) which are mandated to support structural change towards gender equality through their work.
Such structures can take a variety of forms: from Gender Equality Offices, over ombud services, to networks of gender equality ‘antennas’ in different organisational departments, and others. The examples provided below reflect the different forms and roles support structures can take.
Useful to know
- Whatever structure is established, it is important that its mandate is endorsed by the top of the organisation.
- The closer structures are situated to the top of the organisation (e.g. reporting directly to the Dean or Rector), the more authority the structure can have and the more effectively it can work.
- Structures need adequate resources (human and financial) to work effectively.
Existing tools and resources
- The guidelines produced within the framework of the EU-funded structural change STAGES project provide practical insights on establishing and supporting networks for gender equality in universities and research organisations. Check pages 46-48.
GenderNet Freie Universität Berlin
GenderNet Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) is a network structure aimed at facilitating and boosting communication and cooperation between actors in the areas of gender research and gender equality practice at different levels. This innovative, flexible structure brings together researchers, gender equality officers, actors in management and administration and members of committees and other relevant bodies. They jointly address current challenges and drive forward excellent gender research, inclusive gender equality practice, international dialogue and transnational cooperation.
The work within GenderNet Freie Universität Berlin is coordinated by a steering team (“Leitungsteam”) consisting of key actors in university management, gender equality work and gender research of Freie Universität Berlin. Five project teams have been set up to each address one of the following current challenges through joint efforts: gender in research; internationalisation; gender in MINT subjects (mathematics, information sciences, natural sciences, and technology); diversity; and the institutional strategy.
The Gender Balance Committee of the Genomic Regulation Centre
The Gender Balance Committee of the Genomic Regulation Centre (CRG), a Spanish biomedical research institute of excellence, was established in 2013. Its mission is to promote equal opportunities for men and women at the CRG, alongside women's advancement in academia. The Committee aims at eliminating gender bias from the CRG recruitment process, attracting female scientists, and improving the work-family life balance for its employees. It is composed of members representing all areas of the institute and has regular meetings every two months. The practice is included in the previous CRG policy regarding gender equality and HR management excellence. The centre, for instance, received the "HR Excellence in Research" honour from the European Commission in 2013 – a recognition which entails the development of a Gender Equality Plan. Among other activities, in 2014, the Committee launched a mentoring programme geared towards young postdoctoral researchers, and, in 2015, a support grant providing extra financial support to CRG women scientists with family responsibilities. Altogether, the Gender Balance Committee contributes to strengthening gender institutional change at a leading research performing organisation.
Goethe University Frankfurt
The approach to ‘Gender & Diversity Controlling’ that has been implemented at Goethe University Frankfurt (Germany) since 2010 features a standardised procedure steered at central level that grants the rather autonomous, diverse faculties (“Fachbereiche”) freedom to design tailor-made initiatives. Its introduction traces back to the university’s gender action plan (“Frauenförderplan 2009-2013”).
The Gender & Diversity Controlling coordinator is in charge of steering the controlling procedures and of managing the compilation of gender and diversity statistics within the university.
Every two years, the faculties are obliged to report on the status quo related to gender (in)equalities and on their Gender and Diversity Action Plan (GEDAP). The process is steered by the Gender & Diversity Controlling coordinator who provides the faculties with data, tools and advice. Based on their own assessment and on the advice received from the coordinator, the faculties set up the action plan for the next two years. The Gender & Diversity Controlling coordinator and, subsequently, the University Senate’s commission on gender equality and diversity assess the new action plan. Subsequently, the faculties are supposed to adjust the plan based on this feedback.
Gender & Diversity Controlling has become well-established and widely accepted across the university. Notably, the scope and quality of the Gender and Diversity Action Plans at faculty level have enhanced since Gender & Diversity Controlling was first set up.
Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
Contact details: Annemarie Mlakar (email@example.com)
University College Dublin
The role of Gender Project Manager is situated in the University College Dublin (UCD) (Ireland) at the Research and Innovation department. It is sponsored by the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact within the university. The role places a staff member into a university research department in order to drive forward gender equality within its research processes, activities and outputs. The role seeks to engage the research community at all levels in UCD on gender equality and to support their needs and the integration of a gender dimension in relation to research projects and funding applications. The role began in the framework of Horizon 2020 research funding requiring an emphasis on the gender dimension in research content, as well as the Irish Research Council specifying that all research applications must consider the sex/gender dimension of the project proposed. The role complements the diversity and equality objectives of the university as outlined in the UCD Strategy 2015-2020. This practice has a high replicability possibility into other universities and research institutions and appears unique in Ireland. This role is part-time at three days per week which began in June 2014 and will run for a minimum of three years.
Centre for Women in Science and Engineering Research
WiSER (Centre for Women in Science and Engineering Research) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) (Ireland) was established following a funding call from Science Foundation Ireland in 2005 aimed at addressing the under-representation of women in science, engineering and technology. The Centre aims to recruit more women and girls into STEM careers and education; to enable highly skilled women researchers to remain in STEM careers; and to encourage and assist top-level researchers to return to work following a career break. WiSER’s activities and practices are underpinned by the core value that scientific excellence is only achievable in an environment that supports, enables and sustains all outstanding researchers, regardless of gender. WiSER collects gender disaggregated statistics in TCD and reports on them annually to highlight gender gaps and to monitor progress. WiSER offers a range of practical professional development training to women academics and researchers working in STEM in TCD such as a mentoring programme, seminars which provide networking opportunities for women, WiSER academic writing group seminars and tips and information on how women can build their academic research profile via online tools and checklists and other supports. There is also information on work life balance and TCD policies and support for career breaks and flexible working. Funding for the Centre comes from the university (TCD). However, many of the WiSER activities have been funded through EU projects such as INTEGER.
- 1Back to entry page
- 2What is a Gender Equality Plan?
- 3EU objectives for gender equality in research
- 4Why change must be structural
- 5Who is this guide for?
- 6Ready to develop a GEP? Start the GEAR
- 7GEAR action toolbox
- 4Who is involved in a Gender Equality Plan?
- 5Rationale for gender equality in research
- 6Basic requirements and success factors
- 7Obstacles and solutions
- 8Legislative and policy backgrounds