GEP development – Plovdiv University (BG)

As a partner in SPEAR, Plovdiv University Paisii Hilendarski (PU) began to develop its institutional GEP. Gender equality had never been a matter of concern at PU and no gender work or capacity-building had taken place prior to its participation in SPEAR. Researchers started with interviews, workshops, discussions and other initiatives to get in-depth information about staff and management attitudes to gender, and to raise individual and organisational awareness of gender equality. Their efforts also targeted capacity-building through specialised training and expert support from other members of the SPEAR consortium. Those supports particularly targeted young researchers and doctoral students involved in learning and dissemination activities organised by the university’s Centre for Supporting Young Scientists (Academia Iuventutis). The university’s management bodies committed the university to supporting gender equality sustainably, creating a gender-sensitive culture, and introducing the gender dimension in research and education. The main challenge to acceptance of the GEP was overcoming resistance. For example, Bulgarian words, terms and expressions for different aspects of gender were carefully chosen to avoid negative and/or sensitive connotations. In addition, they had formal and informal discussions on the gender equality issues in the GEP, and involved those with formal or informal influence. One concrete measure has already been implemented, with the university now ensuring that gender equality is an integral part of its Ethics Policy.