Gender Equality in Academia and Research
GEAR action toolbox
In working towards institutional change in research organisations and higher education institutions, different areas and themes can be addressed in the Gender Equality Plan through specific initiatives. Depending on the needs of the organisation, it makes sense to focus on a combination of areas.
For each thematic area, a range of activities and instruments can be mobilised. Reference is made to existing examples and resources whenever possible for each thematic area. In choosing for certain approaches, it is important to take into account the specific organisational context and features. What works well in one organisation, might not be the best choice in another organisation.
The thematic areas that are addressed in this section are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they overlap. For example, competence development efforts can focus on how the gender dimension can be addressed in scientific research or in teaching.
For definitions of specific methods and tools, have a look at EIGE’s glossary.
Structures to support gender equality work
Structures to support gender equality work are dedicated organisational arrangements (unit, office, network, service, etc.) 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. For example, it is recommended to bridge top-down and bottom-up approaches by creating spaces for dialogue and negotiation within networks that can span the institution. Moreover, networks can be involved in planning, empowerment and negotiation activities. They can support, connect and empower internal actors. Check pages 46-48.
- The webinar “Introduction to Gender Equality Plans” (2020) is part of the capacity building program developed by the EU-funded Gender Equality Academy project. It aims at exploring the concept of institutional change for Gender Equality in research performing and research funding organisations, and how Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) can be a mean for implementing it in view of achieving the three main ERA objectives.
- The Guidelines for the implementation of gender equality plans proposed by the EU-funded SAGE project (2016) provide support to GEP implementing organisations to plan and manage their GEP process and lower organisational resistances to change, placing the emphasis on stakeholders’ engagement and building alliances.
- The Guidelines for incorporating sexual and gender diversity in the universities of Catalonia, developped by the regional government of Catalonia (2018) reflect one of the most progressive legal and policy framework for advancing sexual and gender diversity through fighting harassment and discrimination but also through integrating this perspective in research and teaching. It articulates both a diagnosis and a prognosis, formulating recommendations and is available in Spanish and Catalan.
- The Gender Platform toolkit made available in German by Genderplattform.at, compiles all relevant provisions and initiatives led by Austrian universities and RPOs in advancing gender equality work on a) organisational culture; b) career development; c) management and decision-making; d) work-life balance; e) Integrating gender dimension in research and teaching. For each area, good practices are listed and contents available.
- The Best practices in advancing gender equality in German universities, provided by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF, 2017), compiles best practices adopted by beneficiary higher education institution of the Professorinnen Programm led since 2008 by the Federal ministry for Education and Research. This program, aimed at funding female full professors, requires applying universities to adopt comprehensive gender equality policies. Best practices were identified for phase I and II of the program (2008-2017).
The Network of gender equality focal persons of the Complutense University of Madrid (ES)
This network was established in 2018 at one of the largest universities in Spain, as an initiative of the EU-funded SUPERA project. Its primary objective is to bring contents and activities related to the gender equality policy of the university to the whole academic community, and to effectively support GEP design and implementation. It also aims at accessing relevant data at the faculty level so as to support GEP design and further diagnoses regarding gender equality. For each faculty node, a responsible person was appointed by the dean, in charge of building working groups comprising of research, teaching, administrative and technical personal. Members of the network are regularly engaged in joint capacity-building activities and co-designing action proposals to be communicated to the Gender Equality Unit of the University, thus bringing a bottom-up dimension and finer-grained picture to university policies to advance gender equality, and contributing to mainstream gender equality work across the institution.
The Gender Equality Commission of the Swiss National Science Foundation (CH)
It is an independent advisory body with a highly international membership. Its members possess a high level of expertise in the field of gender equality and beyond. The commission comments on gender-relevant issues and decisions within the scope of SNSF research funding and submits proposals and recommendations to the National Research Council and the administrative offices of the SNS. It was established in 2014 and meets twice a year. Before that (2001-2014), it was an internal body consisting of employees and members of the research council, which is also responsible for the evaluation of applications. A member of the commission is invited to participate in the monthly meeting of the praesidium of the SNSF and extraordinary meetings take place occasionally to discuss strategic issues. The commission has thus endorsed a key role in mainstreaming gender across SNSF missions and funding schemes.
Integrating the mandate for a GEP in a (regional) policy document (IT)
The autonomous region of Sardinia is one of the few Italian regions granted with extensive competencies in the field of research and innovation, including its own research funding policy. As part of the EU-funded SUPERA, a broad mandate for designing and implementing a GEP in the area of regional research policies and funding, has been included to the Regional Development Program (Programma Regionale di Sviluppo, PRS), adopted for the period 2020-2024 on March, 5th 2020 by the Sardinian Regional Council. Specifically referring to the commitments of the EU-funded SUPERA project, the section of the PRS devoted to research and innovation affirms the full “recognition and dissemination throughout the regional administration, of the gender principles in the field of research and innovation” and the implementation of positive actions aimed at ensuring gender parity in the regional research and innovation policies. “Reinforcing gender awareness in a perspective of structural change”, as well as “supporting participation to projects and programmes from a gender perspective” are also stated as one of the four pillars of the regional research and innovation policy. This policy program applies to the Regional administration, including the regional research agency. It is to be followed-up by the fully-fledged Gender Equality Plan developed by the Autonomous Region of Sardinia as part of the SUPERA project, with application to the research projects calls falling under the scope of the regional law 7 (2007). By embedding the mandate for a GEP into a strategic policy document, the Autonomous Region of Sardinia contributes to its sustainability and to durably mainstreaming gender in regional research policies.
GenderNet Freie Universität Berlin (DE)
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 (ES)
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 (DE)
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.
- Gender & Diversity Controlling at Goethe University Frankfurt (in German and in English)
- Equality-Monitor 2013 - Facts and Figures on Equal Opportunities at Goethe University (in German)
- Flyer about Equality at Goethe University Frankfurt
- Women’s Representative and the Equal Opportunities Office
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Annemarie Mlakar (email@example.com)
University College Dublin (IE)
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 (IE)
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.
Awareness-raising and competence development
Awareness-raising efforts aim at generating and stimulating sensitivity to issues related to gender (in-)equality, while (gender) competence development aims at strengthening people’s knowledge and skills to engage with gender equality issues. In practice, the two types of efforts often overlap, as learning starts with awareness, but is a continuous process.
Awareness-raising and competence development can take many forms: from campaigns, over short introductory sessions for specific target groups, seminars, training, to lectures and dedicated courses or summer schools.
Useful to know
- Make sure you choose the most effective form of awareness-raising or competence development initiative taking into account the needs of the target audience(s). For example, while a 3,5 hours introductory lecture for undergraduate students might be an adequate choice, people in leadership positions are likely to benefit more from participatory and interactive workshops in smaller groups.
- Carefully consider who the target audience is and whether the focus of your effort is to be on awareness-raising or on competence development. Tailor your approach accordingly.
- Think about the effects that you want to trigger through these awareness-raising and competence development efforts. How can these effects be monitored? Try to find indicators and ways to track the impacts of the efforts. Evidence of impact will provide you with strong advocacy arguments.
Existing tools and resources
- Do you need to find a Gender Trainer to organise a training at your organisation? Search on Eurogender’s Gender Trainer Directory.
- Do you need to find experts from a specific scientific field in a particular country? Search GenPort’s people database.
- Gender Equality Academy is a EU-funded capacity-building programme launched in 2019 and based on state-of-the-art knowledge about gender in research organisations and the academia. It is composed of a series of tailor-made training materials and different training formats including: In-person trainings; Summer Schools; Workshops; Webinars; Distributive Open Collaborative Courses (DOCCs); Train-the-Trainer sessions. It aims at increasing skills of those who are implementing measures towards gender equality in their institutions (management, administrators, HR managers, academic staff etc.); Deepening the expertise of researchers interested in the gender dimension of their work: Further developing skills of gender experts willing to deliver training sessions to research & innovation and higher education communities in Europe and beyond. This programme will run until 2021 and all material will remain available online for replication.
- EIGE’s online tool on Gender Training.
- Toolkit – Gender in EU-funded research. This toolkit clearly explains and provides guidance on how to integrate gender in research. It addresses both the gender dimension of research content (with case examples from nine different scientific fields) and women’s participation in research activities. One-day training sessions, based on the toolkit, can be organised.
- Leaflet from the project EGERA: a concise presentation of this EU-structural change project, aiming at raising awareness for the project and its goals among a broad public. It includes an overview of the main thematic areas to be addressed (work packages) and events.
- “Are women a problem, do women have a problem or do women point out a problem?” This presentation was prepared by the coordinator of the EU-funded structural change project FESTA. It aims at raising awareness about the role of women in science.
- Training materials on Improving Meeting Cultures can be consulted in a report published by the FESTA consortium. The aim is to facilitate open and constructive communication, and to raise awareness of the subtle ways of giving and taking away voice, power and visibility.
- Gendered Innovations: Harnessing the Creative Power of Gender Analysis for Discovery and Design: a short video course (4’:19’’) given by Londa Schiebinger from Stanford University about the potential of sex and gender analysis for bringing forward innovations.
- Gendered Innovations also consist in a platform designed by Standford University and providing good examples of how innovation can be harnessed to gendering research and a comprehensive handbook published by the European Commission (DG RTD) in 2013.
- The Hypathia toolkit was designed under the eponym EU-funded project in 2018 to provide an accessible, practical and ready-to-use digital collection of innovative activities aimed at teenagers. It contains workshops, speed dating, card games, debate scenarios and plays drawn from good practices across Europe. Each module has a central focus on gender-inclusive ways of communicating STEM, empowering teenagers and exploring the range of skills that are needed for a great variety of STEM studies and careers open to young people. It is targeted to Research performing organisations, schools and science museums.
- The Toolkit for organising reflexive working groups for selection committee members was developed in 2017 for the EU-funded GARCIA project, to help effectively organising and facilitating reflexive working groups for all support and research staff who are involved in recruitment and selection committees and/or procedures or otherwise responsible for the evaluation of early career researchers.
- Short video case studies about gendered innovations in particular fields of research, along with other instructional and informative videos, can be found at the Gendered Innovations website.
- “The Intervention Initiative toolkit” (2015), developed by UWE (University of the West of England) for the prevention of sexual coercion and domestic abuse in university settings.
- E-learning package on Gender Competent Leadership in Academia developed by the EU-funded structural change project GENOVATE. This tool, which contains 4 sections, encourages (prospective) leaders to reflect on possible solutions according to their institutional needs.
- “Women and technologies” towards EXPO 2015. Women and Technologies: a winning pair?. Gianna Martinengo (from the association “Women and Technology”, Milan, Italy) presented these slides at a public event organised by a partner organisation of the EU-funded structural change project FESTA in October 2012. The presentation was intended to give visibility and raise awareness of the great potential, creativity and participation of women in the world of technology.
- Toolkit for Integrating Gender-Sensitive Approach into Research and Teaching prepared within the EU-funded structural change GARCIA project.
- Guidelines for jury members, reviewers and research funding organisations’ employees designed by the EU-funded GEECCO project for Research Funding Organisations’ employees and evaluators of research proposals. The first part offers a set of practical recommendations concerning activities that strengthen gender balance among peer reviewers and members of committees and boards involved in the evaluation of research proposals. The second part intends to provide guidance about increasing gender sensitivity and diversity awareness in evaluation of research proposals
Compulsory awareness-raising session for B.A. students (FR)
The University Paris 7 Diderot (France) delivers a 3.5 hours compulsory awareness-raising session on gender equality for first grade students as they enter the university (2,700 students / year). It applies to all components and faculties but medicine (Law, Economics and Management, Social Sciences and Humanities, Literature and Arts, Sciences, Technology, Mathematics). The session is an integral part of the welcome programme of the university, which takes place in September and includes other events such as a forum of associations and a speech of the Dean. The session on gender equality is the only event having an academic content and for which attendance is compulsory. Between 70 % and 80 % of registered students have attended this session since it was put in place (approximately 2,000 students). The session is divided into three parts: 1) distribution of a questionnaire on gender inequalities; 2) a general introduction to gender and sexual identities; 3) broadcast of a conference by neurologist Catherine Vidal: “Does our brain have a sex?”. It is organised by the Gender Equality Service, established in 2010 as a central service of the university. While it does not primarily address gender in research and does not target researchers, this practice largely contributes to making gender equality culture an integral part of the institution’s identity, bringing insights from research on gender and initiating the fight against gender bias and stereotypes at an early stage of the curricula of future researchers.
- Gender Equality at University Paris 7 Diderot
- Guide: Being a student at Paris Diderot 2015/2016 (in French)
- Flyer about the awareness-raising session (in French)
- Questionnaire on gender inequalities used during the session (in French)
- Contact details: Rachida Lemmaghti (Rachida.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ragazze Digitali (IT)
Ragazze Digitali (Digital Girls) is a summer camp devoted to enhancing girls' (and boys') digital skills and to encourage them to embrace STEM curricula and careers. It was initiated jointly by the Department of Engineering Enzo Ferrari of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, with European Women Management Development (EWMD). Launched in 2013, it received the support of a number of public and private entities and has been expanding to different location in Emilia Romagna region as from 2018, in the context of the EU-funded EQUAL-IST project. This programme engages with a variety of audiences and stakeholders, including secondary school students, university students, ICT companies, policy stakeholders, helping to enhance the attention for gender equality issues in STEMs. The number of participants has been increasing over years, reportedly with a high success rate in triggering girls' interest for STEM. This programme has also proved to be Covid-responsive.
Girls' Day (DE)
Since 2001, nearly 2 million female high school pupils did participate to Girls' Day in Germany. Hosted in tech, natural sciences and other STEM labs and faculties, Girls' Day offer hands-on activities aiming at enhancing the attractivity of STEM curricula and breaking stereotypes. The University of Westphalia Wilhelms University in Münster (WWU) successfully hosts Girls' Day every year since 2013. In the context of the EU-funded EQUAL-IST project, a focus was placed girls' participation in ICT, involving over 100 secondary school students each year. At the Department of Information Systems, a specific concept was developed under the project, which is different from all the other events within Girls’ Day: girls are divided into very small groups and visit ‘stations’ showing various facets of the area of Information Systems. This tailor-made concept allowed reaching girls almost individually and involving a large amount of DIS staff members thus also having an awareness raising effect inside the department.
A practice to award and ensure greater visibility for women researchers (RO)
The ‘Women Researchers’ Day at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi (Romania) was created in 2013 as an initiative within the EU-funded project "Structural transformations to achieve gender equality in science" (STAGES), led by the Centre for Social Management and Community Development and the UAIC Network of Women Academia and Research. It is an annual innitative aimed at increasing women’s visibility, voice and recognition by presenting their professional profiles and awarding their most relevant results in science. It is a complex public event consisting of several categories of actions like producing and presenting dedicated films under the title “UAIC Profiles of Women in Science”, giving awards to distinguished senior researchers and promising young researchers as well as giving lectureships/conferences on “Gender in science” and trainings for targeted groups (managers, staff, and young researchers) with the contribution of prestigious invited gender experts. The main objectives are to provide female research with role models, to create an international reach for the exchange of good practices, and to contribute to the professional development of women researchers. The event takes place on the same day as the European Women Researchers Day" as a form of enacting transnational and inter-institutional cooperation for promoting shared objectives of gender equality in science through the organisation of mutually beneficial common actions and through its dissemination at international level by networking channels (such as EPWS, GenPort, CNRS, STAGES, UAIC).
School of drafting and management for European projects (IT)
The School of project drafting and management for European projects for post-doctoral and early career researchers was one of the actions within the EU-funded STAGES project at the University of Milan (UMIL) (Italy). The action was designed in order to enhance women’s participation to research and project funds. Indeed, at UMIL women had the same chance as men to obtain European funds but they tended to apply less than their male colleagues. These findings matched those highlighted in the She Figures report (2012), especially with regard to the specific field of Agricultural Sciences (She Figures, 2012, pp. 126-129). The School of drafting aimed at fostering their participations in calls. It started in September 2013 and ended in June 2014. Its programme was planned in cooperation with the Grant Office at the UMIL and it was divided into two parts. The first part, which started in October 2013 and ended in January 2014, aimed at providing participants with an overview of the aims and structure of Horizon 2020 and other European funding schemes (ERC, Marie Curie, etc.). This first part also provided information on the budgeting, management and financial reporting of European Projects and Grants, on the valorisation of the scientific results (evaluation and management of scientific outcomes, patents etc.) and on the gender perspective within European funding schemes. The second part of the programme aimed at supporting the participants in drafting of projects. At this stage, participants had to gather information about European calls and to possibly choose calls they can/would like to apply to in order to receive a more targeted support.
Gender Sensitive PhD Supervisory Toolkit (SE)
As part of the activities organised within the EU-funded structural change project FESTA (coordinated by Uppsala University, Sweden), a Gender Sensitive PhD Supervisory Toolkit has been developed by the project’s consortium. The PhD supervision toolkit targets the supervisory relationships by addressing the socialisation of PhD students and by improving supervisory practices. In male-dominated research environments, it may be relevant to help women at the beginning of their careers to find ways of surviving and competing. The PhD supervision toolkit will advance women’s academic careers in two ways: 1) they will become more fully integrated in the community and therefore more motivated for an academic career and 2) the visibility of their specific value to the research community will be improved. During the Fall/Winter of 2014/2015, study circles on gender awareness in PhD supervision were organised for PhD-supervisors in the six participating countries. These were aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for women and men at the beginning of their academic careers. The PhD supervision toolkit is based on results from these study circles, that it, on the experiences of PhD supervisors themselves in six countries.
Overcoming bias in personnel selection procedures (AT)
As part of the internal leadership training programme of the University of Graz, the gender equality office organises a bias sensitising workshop. This workshop aims at creating reflexivity about gender and other discrimination-related biases in personnel selection procedures, and at creating a general understanding that equality and quality are mutually reinforcing goals. The training takes place over two half-day sessions of five hours each, and is facilitated by external experts as well as gender equality experts from the university. In this workshop, participants gain knowledge about diversity issues, societal inequalities, and academic evaluation procedures. They also participate in a mock personnel selection procedure, as well as discussions on academic CVs, to initiate reflection about their own selection criteria, prejudice and biases.
- Flyer workshop (in German)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Barbara Hey (email@example.com)
Gender certification: a road to change? (SE)
The aim of the project is to increase the knowledge on gender issues and to create conditions for a possible ‘gender certification’ at the departments of Physics, Earth Sciences, and Energy Sciences at Lund University in Sweden. This project was initiated in 2007 at the Department of Physics and consisted of three steps: 1) Education, Information and “Infiltration”, 2) Realising ideas and 3) Evaluation. A working team has been appointed to share information about the project within the departments and to discuss, initiate and implement various activities. The gender certification group (the working team) meets regularly since the beginning of 2010. This project assisted the departments in understanding gender assumptions in their teaching and research. This led to rethinking teaching, changing concepts and languages, and possibly also changed research questions and priorities.
To structurally embed gender equality within the organisation, it is necessary that the widest possible circle of stakeholders is receptive to this change. In order to make gender equality work effective, it is therefore paramount to engage with these stakeholders, vertically as well as horizontally.
Outreach work goes from the top to the bottom of the organisation, and across departments, schools and disciplines. Even alliances and outreach beyond the institution can help to strengthen and legitimate internal change.
Everything can be successful or not, in one or any setting, depending on the negotiation process with the concerned stakeholders. (Marina Cacace, L'Assemblea delle Donne per lo Sviluppo e la Lotta all'Esclusione Sociale (ASDO), evaluator of the EU-funded STAGES project)
Useful to know
- It is important to have the support and explicit backing from the top level of the organisation as from the start. Such support increases the perceived legitimacy of the actions.
- While work towards gender equality can start with a small group of motivated people, it is important to gradually and continuously reach out and widen the group of involved actors.
- Know your institution, talk with people, understand what existing structures do and can do, identify where potential allies are and where resistances can be encountered. Start by building strategic alliances and seek win-win situations.
- Creating a feeling of ownership is key to engaging stakeholders in the work towards structural change for gender equality.
- For engaging stakeholders, it is paramount that they know the gender equality objectives and the initiatives being taken. Therefore, internal communication and visibility are crucial.
- Internal legitimacy can be acquired by gaining external support through alliances with stakeholders outside the organisation. Think for example about research organisations with an outstanding reputation for gender equality, internationally recognised gender equality experts, or participation in an EU-funded structural change project.
Existing tools and resources
- The joint webinar on gender bias in leadership and decision-making jointly proposed in 2020 by the EU-funded GEARING-ROLES and Gender Equality Academy projects aims at explaining and deepening the understanding of the role of gender bias while exploring resistances to gender equality, also discussing strategies for tackling bias and resistances will be discussed.
- A Webinar on Mobilising and engaging. Creating long-lasting commitment for gender equality in research, was designed by the EU-funded Gender Equality Academy in 2020. It aims at presenting different discursive frameworks for gender equality in research and higher education (HE) and highlighting discursive opportunities and tensions between gender equality policies and mainstream HE policies. It also provides examples of strategic framing and priority-setting.
- Institutional guidelines to make your organisation more gender inclusive have been developed by the EU-funded Hypatia Project in 2018, offering concrete suggestions to institutions at the level of individual staff members, staff teams, management, and external stakeholders, including for affirmative actions that can be taken to enhance institutional capacity for gender inclusion.
- The EU-funded structural change project INTEGER project developed a checklist with suggestions for engaging with key stakeholders.
- The Gender and Diversity Toolkit, developed under the EU-funded structural change project GENOVATE, presents and explains a set of interesting approaches and participatory techniques to engage stakeholders.
- A presentation by Evanthia K. Schmidt, Aarhus University (Denmark), about engaging leadership in gender equality initiatives (presented at the STAGES final conference on 3 December 2015). This presentation contains concrete suggestions learnt from the experience of the EU-funded structural change project STAGES on how to better involve leadership in gender equality.
- A short video (5’13) from the StratEGIC toolkit with testimonials about working for change at multiple institutional levels.
- The Handbook on resistances to gender equality in the academia elaborated by the EU-funded FESTA project (2016) aims to summarize what barriers are being experienced along the process of change. It provides a list of recommendations for dealing with the barriers and resistances along this process. The handbook thus hopes to give clues to the audience about the possible interpretations of a case of resistance and the suggested practices to tackle it.
National connections at Fraunhofer Gesellschaft: the National Committee (DE)
The National Committee of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (Germany) included a set of qualified experts from the most important research institutions in Germany (sharing similar features and concerns), plus Federal Government institutions and the media. The team responsible for implementing the EU-funded structural change project STAGES actively involved Committee members, with varied tasks, in the implementation of selected actions, well beyond the original function of the Committee in the dissemination and communication of the Action Plan. Partnerships emerged among different institutions, which is an important follow-up of the Action Plan, increasing the chances for sustainability of parts of it. The active involvement of the Committee also had a positive impact within Fraunhofer, facilitating the mobilisation and involvement of interested internal stakeholders.
Integrating gender issues in an annual stakeholders' event (FR)
Every year in July, les Rencontres du CIRAD (CIRAD days) bring together researchers, administrative and technical staff, managers as well as external research and policy stakeholders. Strategic issues regarding agriculture for development, international cooperation and research policies are discussed with guest speakers and through participatory activities. In the context of the EU-funded Gender-SMART project, gender issues have been mainstreamed in the annual program of this milestone event, so as to engage and mobilize the whole community in implementing a GEP and a collective agreement on gender equality. This repeated focus helped ranking gender issues higher on the agenda of the organisation, visibilizing gender research throughout CIRAD and addressing pending issues, while making gender equality work visible to the entire community. Dozens of participants each year are thought to act as gender equality advocates in their respective units and departments, and gender issues have proven to generate more engagement than other issues discussed at CIRAD days, permeating the functioning of the whole organisation.
Gender Equality Fab Labs
In the framework of the EU-funded SUPERA project, partner institutions have been invited to set-up temporary Gender Equality Fab Labs for the design, prototyping and test of affordable and innovative policy solutions to gender bias and imbalances identified through gender audits. Derived from their implementation in tech and engineering, Fab Labs are conceived here as time-bound initiative aiming at solving an issue through engaging stakeholders drawing upon co-design methodologies. Capacity have been first built at consortium level to equip project teams with appropriate tools for facilitating Fab Labs, and this know-how has been further transferred internally to each partner. The University of Coimbra, in Portugal and the University of Cagliari, in Sardinia, Italy, are those which have reported to use Fab Labs more regularly, notably to produce recommendations on sexual harassment. Co-design, which relies upon specific tools derived from design thinking such as personas, journey maps or causal diagrams, drawing upon stakeholders' participation and experience, is thought to lower resistances and increase participation to the change process. It is being increasingly used in GEP projects.
Use of hackathons and Fab Labs to advance equality in ICT
In the framework of the EU-funded EQUAL-IST project, focusing on IT and other STEM departments, Kharkiv National University of Economics made an intensive use of formats such as hackathons and Fab Labs to engage with students and young researchers on gender equality issues and enhance female students' IT skills. A well-equipped Fab Lab, funded under another international project, has been used to host EQUAL-IST activities. Female students were encouraged to participate in a nation-wide hackathon for girls which they eventually won and serious games served as a support for stakeholder's engagement. When it comes to mobilising researchers and students, the use of innovative, participatory format, is recommended. Indeed, researchers are facing considerable administrative and reporting burdens in addition to their research activities, and students are not easily reached through standard administrative communication channels and top-down, course-style formats. Therefore, using alternative methodologies based upon experience and participation, such as serious games or labs, can prove successful to increase participation. This is especially the case in IT-related environment, where the tolerance for standard interactions is lower.
Organisational culture and work-life balance
The organisational culture and work-life balance are key factors that contribute to creating an enabling environment for both women and men to have fulfilling careers in the research sector. This area covers all aspects that promote an enabling working environment in which both women and men can thrive, feel good in their jobs, enjoy equal opportunities to develop their careers and have fulfilling lives. This is a broad thematic area that covers issues such as:
- Gender-sensitive communication
- Childcare provisions
- Maternity / paternity / parental leave provisions
Useful to know
- Some mistakenly understand gender equality as a women’s issue only. It is important to highlight that the whole institution benefits from a more open and respectful organisational culture. The well-being of all improves when there is a better balance between work, family and private life.
- Better organisational cultures help to attract and to retain the best talents.
- Changing the organisational culture does not happen through single interventions. Systematic efforts will be required until the desired change in values has been internalised by all involved in the organisation.
- The pursuit of an academic career is still often associated with full dedication to science and a culture of ‘long hours’. As long as women continue to carry the bulk of caring responsibilities, the double workload for women renders it difficult to balance their professional and private lives.
- A respectful, open and welcoming organisational culture is sensitive to a variety of gender identities and does not consider ‘women’ and ‘men’ as homogeneous groups.
Existing tools and resources
- EIGE’s toolkit for work-life balance in the ICT sector (2018) outlines how organisations in the ICT sector can boost equal opportunities and gender equality to attract and retain female talent. It provides organisations with practical tools and real-life examples from the EU Member States to support the implementation of work-life balance measures. More directed to ICT companies than R&D organisations, it nonetheless provides useful instruments and insights for RPOs in ICT to develop their own policies, including a business case that advocates for organisational change and outlines how organisations in the ICT sector can boost equal opportunities and gender-equality through human-resource management to attract and retain female talent and making workplaces inclusive for women, and a checklist for developing work-life balance provisions.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in European Higher Education Institutions is a report published in 2019 by the European University Association as part of the INVITED project, which aims to support universities in developing and strategies towards equity, diversity and inclusion. It also seeks to promote dialogue between stakeholders at the system level in order to ensure that regulatory and funding frameworks empower universities to fulfil their social responsibility.
- Also published by the European University Association, Strategies towards Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Universities show how universities approach the topic from a strategic point of view, bringing together various smaller scale projects focused on different aspects and dimensions into a comprehensive strategy that becomes an integral part of the institution’s mission.
- The League of European Research Universities published a position paper (2019) on Equality, diversity and inclusion at universities: the power of a systemic approach, which makes the case for why universities should and how they can engage with equality, diversity and inclusion and provides many examples of what LERU universities are actually doing to build equal, diverse and inclusive organisations, including through tackling intersecting inequalities.
- Supporting reconciliation of work, family and private life – Good Practices (2015). This publication of EIGE presents good practices, gaps and challenges in the work towards supporting the reconciliation of work, family and private life.
- Gender-sensitive communication:
- The Guidelines for gender-sensitive communication developed by the EU-funded SUPERA project (2020) consider the main factors influencing the development of an academic institution’s communication strategy through the lenses of gender-sensitivity, with three main aims: 1) Raising awareness on the pervasive role of communication and language in academia and its function in contributing to institutional change towards gender equality; 2) Introducing a deeper awareness of the gender biases and stereotypes that affect daily communication; 3) Providing advice and guidance in adopting a gender-sensitive approach in the communication strategies and practices of an academic institution.
- The Toolkit for gender-sensitive communication is one of a series of documents produced by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) to raise awareness of gender-sensitive language. Other useful documents include a glossary to explain the meaning of key terms linked to gender equality and a thesaurus exploring the relationship between different terms, both accessible at EIGE's Gender Equality Glossary and Thesaurus. It provides guidelines for the use of gender-sensitive language in writing. Although it provides tips and examples for the English language, the underlying principles for gender-sensitive writing are universal and remain relevant when using other languages. Its main objectives are the following: a) raise awareness about the importance of gender-sensitive language; b) provide practical examples of what gender-biased and gender-discriminatory communication is and how to avoid it; c) provide practical tools and advice for policymakers and all those involved in the drafting of documents for the public so that these texts are gender-sensitive and inclusive for all members of the society; d) provide useful checklists and examples for users.
- Guidelines for using gender-sensitive language in communication, research and administration. This concise document provides practical suggestions to ensure that language and wording are not gender discriminatory.
- Antwerp charter on gender-sensitive communication in and by academic institutions. The organisations signing the charter undertake to promote respect for human dignity and social responsibility, eliminate all forms of discrimination and use gender-sensitive language at all times when communicating. The charter is one of the key outcomes of the EU-funded structural change EGERA project.
- Guidelines on gender-neutral language (1999), published by UNESCO (in English and French), explains how language can be exclusive and stereotyping. It contains a list of non-neutral phrases and words as well as possible alternatives to these.
- The Checklist for maintaining contact with staff taking family breaks proposed by the EU-funded Baltic-Gender project (2019), bringing together organisation from the Baltic area focused on marine exploration, is aimed at maintaining contact with the individuals taking family breaks and for employees returning to regular working conditions afterwards. It also includes recommendations to guarantee a successful career continuation with continuous institutional support.
- Good practices in gender inclusion in STEM communication produced by the EU-funded HYPATIA project lists a number of gender-inclusive science education activities designed by European science centres, museums, research institutions, industrial institutions, and other science education institutions.
- Training materials on Improving Meeting Cultures can be consulted in a report published by the EU-funded structural change FESTA project consortium. The aim is to facilitate open and constructive communication, and to raise awareness of the subtle ways of giving and taking away voice, power and visibility.
- Mapping organisational work-life policies and practices (2015), Sanja Cukut Krilić and Elisa Rapetti (eds.). This is a working paper (n. 4) developed in the context of the EU-funded structural change GARCIA project.
- Athena SWAN factsheet on organisational culture, with ‘quick win’ suggestions that have been implemented by Athena SWAN award winners.
- Imperial College London commissioned independent research to examine issues of gender equality and institutional culture, with a view to formulating advice on how to address sexism. In the context of this research, staff and students are encouraged to contribute to the project by filling in a short survey. Here is the template with the questions.
- At the University of Oxford, 39 female scientists were video interviewed about their experiences as a female academic. Have a look at the testimonies about work-life balance and about part-time and flexible working.
- Science Europe developed a Practical Guide to Improving Gender Equality in Research Organisations, part one of the document deals with "How to improve Grant Management Practises" as of page 38.
Extensive parental and maternity policy (UK)
The University of Glasgow has an extensive maternity policy. This policy is to be read in conjunction with the University's policy on Shared Parental Leave to ensure that employees are fully aware of the options available to them and their family. This gender-sensitive approach is reflected in a comprehensive toolkit, listing all instruments supporting staff planning or returning from maternity or parental leave. The comprehensive university policy covers Maternity Leave & Pay Entitlement, Ante-Natal Care, Notification Process, Commencement of Maternity Leave, Keeping in Touch During Maternity Leave, Shared Parental Leave, Returning to Work After Maternity Leave, Employees Not Returning to Work, Partners Rights During Pregnancy/Maternity Leave. It includes a risk assessment for each phase with corresponding guidelines, a checklist for planning the leave, as well as services such as a nursery, breastfeeding room and guidelines, a parents buddy network or a parents and carers forum. This comprehensive and well-articulated approach thus contribute to enhancing work-life balance and promoting a shared culture of equality and co-responsibility.
Discrimination-free and gender-inclusive language policy at university (AT)
The Affirmative Action Plan for the Advancement of Women and Equal Opportunities of the University of Vienna states that all institutions and members of staff (academic and non-academic) are bound to use discrimination-free and gender-inclusive language in all communications directed at members of the University or at the public. As a consequence, general statements like "women are included in masculine forms" are not acceptable. neither the University nor third parties are allowed to distribute materials on university grounds that do not comply with the principles of anti-discrimination and equality or that use discriminating stereotypes. To support the implementation of these principles, the university developed comprehensive guidelines (available in German only), as well as different supporting material such as videos. The policy is easily accessible on the web portal of the university.
Comprehensive funding support scheme for parents at German RFO (DE)
The Volkswagen Foundation, a private research funding organisation in Germany, has developed a comprehensive funding support scheme for parents. Although it is directed to parents of either sex, also including adopting parents, it has a clear gender sensitive approach, aiming at lowering the burden and career cost of parenting for early career female researchers. Funding is available for male or female researchers raising one or more children. As a second prerequisite, the supplementary funds are restricted to funding initiatives and calls specifically targeted at young researchers submitting applications for the funding of their own positions, in particular postdoctoral positions, and W1 professorships in Germany. During maternity and/or parental leave the current legal provisions shall apply. The end of the project will be shifted accordingly. After prior consultation with the Foundation, part-time employment combined with a proportional project prolongation is possible. If during parental leave and with the prior consent of the Foundation, it is considered indispensable for achieving the project targets, an appropriate replacement (e.g. research assistant) may be hired. Any additional costs thereby incurred may be claimed in a substantiated post-application, always assuming a cost-neutral budget reallocation is not possible. An allowance for child care may be paid from the grant for children no older than twelve. The amount depends on the number of children and is set as follows: For a single child EUR 400 per month. For each additional child the allowance is increased by EUR 100 per month. Within the context of funding initiatives involving long research stays in another country (minimum six months), the Volkswagen Foundation may assume the costs of flights for grantees as well as return flights for children and the grantee’s partner. Alternatively, in the event that the grantee travels alone, it is possible to apply for one return trip home during the stay.
Teaching-free period when returning from parental leave (DK)
Since 2012, one of the ways in which the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) has implemented measures addressing gender equality is by supporting work-life balance. With the implementation of internal guidelines regarding parental leave, SDU initiated two specific measurers: 1) while away on parental leave, the researchers are offered continuously academic updates and 2) when returning from parental leave, the researchers are offered to get a teaching-free period (if they were on leave for six months or more). The internal guidelines have helped establishing a supportive work-family culture within the organisation and providing more flexible career trajectories for young female researchers in particular.
- Mapping initiatives on gender equality for the period 2009-2014 at University of Southern Denmark (in Danish)
- Contact details: Jakob Ejersbo (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vivi Madsen (email@example.com)
Family-leave without consequences for the academic career (FI)
Hanken School of Economics (Finland) automatically extends temporary contracts of teaching and research personnel if they have been absent due to maternity, paternity and parental leave. The policy was included in the Human Resources instructions of the School in 2010, and it is also inscribed in its gender equality and non-discrimination plan. The policy was adopted in order to support long-span research work and ensure that research projects will be finalised, as well as to promote career advancement of women researchers. The practice also improves the reconciliation of work and family life for all workers on temporary contracts, but in particular for women, who in Finland take most of statutory leave. A recent survey by the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (2013) revealed that one fourth of university workers had not received a contract extension due to family leave. The present policy ensures staff members are treated equally in this matter. It has improved the career prospects of young women researchers at Hanken and their possibilities to combine research career with family. Researchers on temporary contracts are able to finalise their projects after returning to work after parental leave, even if the projects had officially ended during their absence. Not losing research time and being able to return to a position after parental leave is crucial for career advancement in the highly competitive academic job market. From the perspective of reconciliation of work and family life, the policy makes taking parental leave more attractive to researchers – also for men. Hanken’s policy offers a contract extension for the length of the statutory leave (maternity leave three months, paternity leave two weeks and parental leave six months).
Maternity Cover Fund and Return to Work policy (UK)
In Queens University Belfast (QUB) (UK), all Schools have return to work policies, which are funded by the Schools and, where feasible, allow for either a six month teaching free period on return from maternity leave, or a greatly reduced teaching load. This policy began in Science, Engineering and Technology Schools in QUB and has since expanded. It began following on from a recommendation in the Women’s Forum Report on Gender Imbalance at Queens (May 2000) and was implemented shortly thereafter. This policy aims to ensure that mothers-to-be can take their maternity leave without worrying about how their leave impacts on others, and that they have time to readjust to work on their return and focus on research activities without teaching pressures. This policy also extends to female and male staff taking adoption leave. These policies have received strong praise and positive feedback from academic staff within SET Schools in QUB.
A Maternity Cover Fund is also in place across the University and is comprised of money reclaimed through Statutory Pay Credits and a contribution from University funds. The fund provides assistance to Schools and Directorates to ensure that the essential work of all members of staff who take maternity leave is covered so that they can enjoy anxiety-free maternity leave. The Maternity Cover Funds are administered and managed centrally by the Personnel Office and claims can be made through an online application which is then reviewed by a Maternity Cover Fund Group. Replacement teaching costs are estimated at a faculty level and come out of Schools budgets. The Fund enables women across the university, not only academics, to take maternity leave without worry about work, and enables the manager/department head to apply for funds to employ substitutes to carry out the mother's work while she is on leave. The outcome of this Fund and policy is a 100 % maternity leave return rate for QUB since 2011.
- Queen's Gender Initiative
- Maternity and Adoption Leave at Queen’s University Belfast
- Presentation by Denise Price at Learning and Dissemination Seminar on Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Higher Education Institutions (9 September 2016)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Yvonne Galligan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recruitment, selection and career progression support
Recruitment, selection and career progression support measures aim at ensuring that women and men get equal chances to develop and advance their scientific careers. Actions are needed to avoid and undo the systematic and structural discrimination of women along their career path in research. It is thus important to critically review the existing selection processes and procedures at all stages and to remedy biases where these occur.
Useful to know
- The Council Conclusions on Advancing gender equality in the European Research Area (adopted in December 2015) point out that still only 20 % of full professors in Europe are women and therefore invites institutions to strive for guiding targets for a more even gender balance for professors.
- In a number of countries, the so-called ‘cascade model’ is being introduced, following the German example. In this model, the institutions set targets for the proportion of women at each qualification level on the basis of the proportion of women at the level immediately below.
- While it is generally accepted that ‘merit’ and ‘excellence’ are key criteria for the assessment of candidates for academic positions, these concepts are not gender-neutral.
- ‘Unconscious’ or ‘implicit’ bias unintentionally influences judgements and opinions about others. It is very important to be aware of your own biases. Likewise, it is highly relevant to organise training for those involved in selection processes to avoid unconscious or implicit gender bias to interfere in the decision-making. CERCA created a video on gender bias in recruitment to make panel members aware of the different biases which might come up and how to solve them.
- Organising blind assessments of candidates’ CVs can contribute to avoiding unconscious gender bias in candidate selection.
- Where existing processes fall short of satisfactorily remediating inequalities, positive action measures can be mobilised temporarily. It is however commendable to carefully check the legislative framework before such measures are introduced.
- While quotas are generally seen as effective in bringing forward an improved gender balance, quotas tend to evoke significant resistance. Carefully consider the pros and cons of introducing quotas, taking into account cultural specificities. Take a look at how quotas were introduced at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
- A gender pay gap results from variances in contractual conditions and terms of employment, of which the effects are cumulative over time and most often disadvantageous to women.
To generate excellent research requires excellent researchers. This implies both attracting them, and recognising, fostering and promoting them. But throughout the EU, gender still plays and inappropriate role in selection. The more transparent the procedure, based on explicit criteria, the more successful women are likely to be. Excellent male candidates have nothing to fear from transparency! (Teresa Rees, in ‘Developing a Research Strategy at a Research Intensive University’ in The Sage Handbook of Research Management, R. Dingwall and M. B. McDonnell (eds.), 2015)
Existing tools and resources
- A video on Contrasting gender biases in the evaluation and recruitment of professors and researchers was put online in 2018 by the EU-funded project PLOTINA. It explains the notion of unconscious bias and why and how it can affect scientific evaluations and hinder female researchers. It provides practical advice on the steps to take to combat this unconscious bias.
- The EU-funded project LIBRA released in 2017 a Recruitment handbook – Inclusive, Transparent and Unbiased Recruitment Processes to support institutes participating in the LIBRA project in their recruitment processes helping them not only to find the most suitable candidate but also to increase diversity which leads to more creativity and ultimately success. It compiles a series of recommendations for a more fair, objective, and transparent recruitment process for senior leadership positions in science research institutes. These recommendations can also be applied more broadly to include the recruitment of PhD students, postdocs and technical staff.
- The paper Student evaluations of teaching (mostly) do not measure teaching effectiveness, published in 2016 by Anne Boring based on findings from the EU-funded EGERA project is devoted to gender bias in teaching evaluation by students, which have a significant impact on the career progression of academics. Author’s groundbreaking findings are summarized in this paper, and further referenced in Times Higher Education and other publications, available at www.anneboring.com.
- As part of the LIBRA project, the CERCA Institute (Spain) released in 2016 a video on gender bias at recruitment in research institutes, which effectively illustrates widely present gender bias expressed during selection committees and providing recommendations on how to tackle them.
- This video by the British Royal Society (2015), provides a clear and impactful introduction to the debated notion of unconscious bias, showing that prejudices dictate most of our perceptions and decisions about who belongs to our ingroup, thus strongly impacting selection and recruitment in science.
- A Handbook on Gender Issues in Recruitment, Appointment and Promotion Processes has been developed within the framework of the EU-funded structural change FESTA project. This handbook is intended to support practitioners who are involved in hiring processes and stakeholders who can influence regulations. It helps to create awareness of the biases that can influence appointment processes and criteria.
- E-learning package on Gender Competent Leadership in Academia developed by the EU-funded project GENOVATE. Section 3 of this tool deals specifically with unconscious bias. It explains the mechanism at work, and presents case studies, tests, video statements, a glossary of relevant terms and a list with further reading suggestions.
- Academic Careers and Gender Inequality: Leaky Pipeline and Interrelated Phenomena in Seven European Countries (2015) is a working paper (n. 5) developed within the framework of the EU-funded structural change GARCIA project. It demonstrates how women´s career progress “evaporates” as they advance in their career (the so called “leaky pipeline” phenomenon). The report also provides some recommendations based on the national cases studies.
- Assessing excellence (2014). This paper, drafted by Flavia Zucco within the framework of the EU-funded structural change project GENIS-LAB, reviews critically the concept of excellence and its underlying criteria, showing how it leads to the structural discrimination of women.
- Excellence in university academic staff evaluation: a problematic reality? (2015). This is a paper of Pat O'Connor and Clare O'Hagan, drawing on work undertaken within the EU-funded structural change project FESTA. The paper was published in the journal ‘Studies in Higher Education’.
- Constructing excellence: the gap between formal and actual selection criteria for early career academics is a working paper (n. 2) developed within the framework of the EU-funded structural change GARCIA project. It examines the notion of excellence by comparing formal and actually applied selection criteria.
- Several ‘unconscious bias tests’ can be found on the Internet. One test that is frequently referred to is the one of ‘Project Implicit’. This is also the test which Facebook staff are invited to take before attending the training on Managing Unconscious Bias. The video modules of this training are online.
Implicit Gender Biases during evaluations: How to raise awareness and change attitudes? Workshop Report Brussels, 30-31 May 2017, by DG RTD.
"Learning Materials": Link to Uta Frith's (Royal Society) interview on unconscious bias by the BBC (including surgeon's son accident exercise)
Link to 5 min video from McKinsey, published on 17 Sept 2015 (on gender bias in recruitment/management, with inverted women-men situation)
Université de Lausanne (Switzerland) – Eviter les biais de genre lors de nominations professorales (video, with English subtitles) concerning gender biases when nominating professors.
- In the article Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students (2012), Corinne Moss-Racusin and colleagues report on a study that statistically demonstrates the bias in favour of male (‘John’) versus female (‘Jennifer’) candidates, based on identical CVs (except for candidates’ first names).
- The article Student evaluations of teaching (mostly) do not measure teaching effectiveness (2016) by Boring et al. reveals gender bias in the evaluation of male and female professors by students.
- The report Exploring Quotas in Academia (2015), published by EMBO and the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany), discusses the use made of quotas, their potential benefits and potential harms. It also presents options for the implementation of specific types of quotas.
- Slaying the Seven-Headed Dragon: The Quest for Gender Change in Academia (2012) can be found at Gender, Work and Organization, Volume 19, Issue 1 (pp. 71-92). This academic article written by Van den Brink and Benschop is based on an empirical study from the Netherlands and discusses practices that should bring about gender equality, showing how these interact with gender inequality practices.
- The WAVE Employer Case Studies: from Evidence to Action on Gender Pay Gaps (2015) from the WAVE (Women Adding Value to the Economy) project presents explanatory factors for the gender pay gap as well as a set of actions to tackle the problem.
- Science Europe developed a Practical Guide to Improving Gender Equality in Research Organisations, part one of the document deals with "How to Avoid Unconscious Bias in Peer Review Processes" as of page 11.
Examples related to recruitment and selection
Gender sensitive job advertisements (DE)
In many scientific and technical fields, it is still often the case that men find much more likely access to the fields than women. One way to improve this situation already applies when creating job advertisements. A simple, uncomplicated and low-threshold access to the implementation of balanced job advertisements is the use of gender decoders, as experimented at the Fraunhofer Institute, a forefront RPO in Germany. These tools check job advertisements for the appearance of any of a pre-set list of words associated with (gendered) masculine or feminine profiles and calculate the relative proportion of masculine-coded and feminine-coded words. This helps to make imbalances visible in order to create job advertisements more attractive for women and increase the number of female applicants. In order to attract more women for jobs, decoders setress that it is helpful to be very clear in the job description and mark less important requirements as optional, since women use to consider such requirements to be more mandatory than men and do less likely submit an application as result, if they believe these requirements do not fit to their profile.
Gender sensitive recruitment procedure for doctoral schools (AT)
When recruiting for a joint doctoral school of Vienna Technical University (Technische Universität Wien, TUW), methods were tried out for the first time in 2013 to increase the proportion of women as much as possible without establishing binding quotas. From these experiences, a guideline for all doctoral programs was developed and is set into practices for the future doctoral programs at TU Wien. For the whole process of recruitment, all steps, from advertisement to selection procedure and recruitment were considered. The selected procedure extends typical recruiting processes by further aspects: e.g. in the context of an assessment center, topics such as personal skills, motivation, and the ability to work in a team are also considered. All process steps were assessed from a gender perspective, and specific measures and tools were developed for each stage of the recruitment process. Thus, women were to be better reached by the call for applications when the texts of the call for applications were written accordingly. During the selection process, personal skills were evaluated in addition to the classic topics. Participating supervisors, including those initially more resistant, proved very satisfied with the selection process. For many of them it was the first time that they were able to experience for themselves how teamwork skills can be assessed – and what a difference it made to their personal selection.
Female professorship program sponsored by the Federal State in Germany (DE)
In 2008, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, in cooperation with Länder, launched the Female professorship program. Higher education and research organisations can apply for a full professor position reserved to a woman, to be funded over five years from federal funds (while universities are usually funded at Länder level). This opportunity is granted based on the adoption of a fully-fledged gender equality strategy by the applying institutions, which commit to fund these additional positions permanently beyond the five first years. Regularly assessed, this program granted with 200 million Euros for the 2018-2022 phase has received over 500 million since its launch, and by the end of 2019, 570 female full professors had been appointed. Utterly competitive and successful, this program has also brought tens of universities and higher education institutions to adapt comprehensive gender equality strategies. Although hardly replicable in a non-federal system and/or to a similar scale, this successful program highlights the impact of strong, sustainable and well-monitored incentives for gendering research organisations.
Women in Science Excel (WISE) (NL)
Launched in 2015 by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), this program offers young female researchers (PhD obtained at least 3 years prior to the application) to develop or expand their own research group at NWO institutes since 2015. NWO offers 20 tenure-track positions in its research institutes (specific institutes cooperate in each round and are presented on the NWO homepage for each round) in five recruitment rounds. The funding includes a start-up package that is subdivided into three levels, depending on the candidate’s qualifications: 1) a standard tenure-track position for a fixed period of five years, 2) an accelerated tenure-track position for an experienced candidate for a fixed period shorter than five years or 3) a permanent position for a senior candidate (funding for max. three years). Candidates have to submit a research proposal and state the NWO institute they would like to work at. This application is assessed by the institute of choice in the first round followed by an assessment of the WISE selection committee that invites the two first rated candidates of each institute. The dedicated goal of the program is to ensure a more balanced male-female ratio in top-level positions at NWO’s institutes and is a direct result of the strategy “Talent to the Top Charter” (NWO signed this Charter in 2010) with the objective to concentrate on gender diversity during recruitment and selection, staff planning and talent management. Ten positions were configured during the recruitment rounds in 2016-2019, and NWO decided to strengthen guidance for applicants and to introduce more flexibility in the deadlines so as to further increase women’s access to career opportunities.
Women represented in all rounds of applications (DK)
Different specific initiatives have recently been implemented at the University of Copenhagen (UCHP) (Denmark) related to processes of announcement of vacant positions, recruitment and assessment of applications. For instance, UCHP is now requesting at least one applicant of either sex before a vacant post can be filled and, similarly, there has to be at least one person of each sex in all appointment and review committees. UCHP has also begun to reassess the way position vacancies are announced, and they have introduced the use of search committees, which are to look carefully for promising candidates (inter)nationally, prior to the filling of research positions.
- UCPH debating: at least one applicant of each sex for researcher positions (in Danish)
- A new target: Applications from Women for all research positions (in Danish)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Charlotte Autzen (email@example.com)
Age limit extension in calls for female researchers with children under 10 (HU)
In March 2009, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) accepted an equal opportunities framework programme (Presidential decision no. 13/2009. II. 24). One element of the framework programme is the extension of age limits for female researchers who have children under the age of 10. This means that all calls of the HAS (scholarships, fellowships and grants) with an age limit, the age limit is extended by two years after each child under the age of 10 for female and male researchers who certify that they stayed with the child(ren) on parental leave. The Academy also extended the scope of the programme to single parents as well.
Examples related to career progression
Stimulating personal development to improve women academics' positions (NL)
Radboud University (Netherlands) started in September 2010 with a mentoring programme for women academic and administrative staff. After a positive evaluation, it was decided to continue this programme, but exclusively for women academics. The programme organises mentor groups for talented scientists to gain more insight into their current work position and what activities and skills are necessary for them to grow. There is room for about 35 female participants. Evaluation of the programme has shown that the mobility of scientists can be improved by mentoring, e.g. many received important grants and improved their position. The aim of the programme is to provide practical support and advice for women talents (particularly post-docs, assistant and associate professors), who want to develop their academic careers. The mentoring trajectory is custom made: mentees choose their own mentor (men or women preferably from another faculty or department). In a series of interviews it will often be the mentee who determines the themes and topics to discuss. The mentor can help the mentee with: their personal and professional development, gaining a better understanding of the organisation, establishing useful contacts and gaining new access to networks. On average, mentees have five to six meetings with their mentor per trajectory, which maximally takes up to one year. In addition to the mentoring programme, a career coach can be contacted within the Human Resources department. Approaching a coach is based on the outcomes or specific needs of the mentoring programme. The goal of coaching is to deepen the themes from the meetings with the mentor even further. The programme includes several workshops and peer-reviews with colleagues. For example, there are workshops on networking, negotiating or personal branding.
Participatory approach towards a Career Development Plan (SK)
In 2013, Trnava University developed a Gender Equality Plan as part of project proposal of EU-funded structural change GENOVATE project. This Plan contained a measure aiming at developing a Career Development Plan (CDP) for the university research employees. The project team opted for a participatory approach in developing a CDP, which consisted of: mapping the existing situation in two university’s faculties, collecting sex-disaggregated data on research and education employees, interviewing the HR Department of the Rectorate and Personnel Administrators of both faculties, carrying out surveys among research employees and several questionnaires on gender equality distributed within awareness raising activities. On the basis of collected information, the proposal for a Career Development Plan was developed. The inclusion of surveys, questionnaires and discussions into the process of developing policies served not only as an example of evidence based policy-making, but also contributed to raising awareness on gender equality and the policy itself, and to create a sense of ownership within the two faculties.
- Institutional Recruitment, Progression and Research Support Strategy Document (in English)
- Contact details: Alexandra Brazinova (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cascade Model at Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (GFZ) (DE)
Considering that women and men are not equally represented in scientific careers, especially in senior positions, the Helmholtz Association decided to introduce flexible target ratios for the shares of female employees, following the cascade model. According to this model, the actual ratio of a career stage is regarded as the ideal ratio for the next career stage. A timeframe for reaching target ratios has been established, i.e. five years. Target ratios are a result of the ideal ratios which are then being weighted with the actual new vacancies on the respective career stage and other factors. Each Helmholtz Centre has its own target quotas. Currently, the GFZ committed itself on higher target ratios than the calculated target ratios. Meeting these target ratios can be challenging, as recognised by the organisation. However, this illustrates the organisation's motivation to promote equal opportunites through GFZ's human resources policy.
- Cascade Model at GFZ (in English)
High-profile tenure-track positions for top female scientists (NL)
Delft University of Technology is aiming to substantially increase the number of top female scientists. To help accelerate this, Delft Technology Fellowship (initiated in 2010) offers high-profile, tenure-track positions to top female scientists in research fields in which the university is active. The current situation is that 12 % of the current full professors are female. The goal is to increase this percentage up to 20 % in 2020. The 5-year Fellowships are awarded to outstanding female scientists from any country and from any of the existing disciplines in the university, who are currently not employed by Delft University of Technology. The fellowships are awarded at the Assistant, Associate or full Professor levels. As fellow women will be offered the unique chance to establish their own research programme of international repute, including a generous start-up funding (assistant professor 100.000 Euro, associate professor 200.000 Euro and full professor 300.000 Euro). Candidates can write their own research proposal (not restricted by specific available positions). An informal mentoring scheme is available for fellows to get to know the university and the Dutch (research) environment. Also, fellows participate in a university wide introduction programme and in the Personal Development Programme. Following a positive evaluation at the end of (a maximum of) five years, the fellow is awarded tenure. Having been awarded tenure, the fellow will be following the regular career path for scientists at Delft University of Technology. Should the fellow in the fourth year of the tenure track not achieved the expected goals for that period, the fellow is offered career advice to help explore employment opportunities elsewhere.
- Information about the programme Delft Technology Fellowship (in English)
- Interview with the rector of Delft University of Technology (with English subtitles)
- Contact details: Caroline Kohlmann-van Noord (C.J.C.Kohlmann-vanNoord@tudelft.nl)
Minna Canth Academy Professorship (FI)
Professors selected for the Minna Canth Professorship of the Academy of Finland – the nation-wide RFO, are in an employment relationship with the organisations by which the research posts are hosted. Research posts as Academy Professor, a specific title linked to the Academy, are intended for fixed-term, full-time research work where the professors carry out their own research plan, supervise their own research team and provide guidance to junior researchers. Their duties also include the supervision of thesis and M.A dissertation in their own field and teaching related to their research. One of these professorships – the Minna Canth Academy Professorship – is dedicated to women’s studies and gender research and is open for applications every five years.
Controlled experiments to limit gender bias in teaching evaluation by students and students' mobility orientation
Insightful quantitative-based study carried out under the EU-funded EGERA project (FP7) evidenced strong, widely shared gender bias in students’ evaluation of their professors. Documented in several academic papers and disseminated towards the wider public through publications in French and international press (Time Higher Education), those works also served as a basis for a statistically controlled experiment held in 2016-2017, through which different wordings were used in the evaluation sheet to be filled in by students. A control group with no change in wording was also selected, and randomization was performed to control for potential selection bias. Results showed that gender bias could be significantly reduced by making aware students of their existence in a neutral, merely informative way. Following the experiment, evaluation forms were modified, and potential bias further monitored. Additionally, a similar job was performed with students’ orientation for their mandatory international mobility year. Female students proved to systematically select foreign universities ranked lower than those chosen by their male fellow students, explaining part of the gender pay gap identified after graduation. Consecutively, controlled experiments were planned to limit gender bias and monitor them in the longer term. These experiments are to be expanded in the frameworks of the EU-funded SUPERA and RESET projects, and have proved inspirational to a number of universities in the EU and the US, fueling ongoing discussions on removing gender bias in students’ evaluations.
Plan for the recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented Women (DE)
The plan adopted by the Department of Information Systems (DIS) at the University of Münster (WWU), was developed based on the outcomes of the EQUAL-IST project, where existing at DIS challenges related to gender equality, diversity, and work-family balance were revealed, the objectives to address these challenges were formulated, and the Activities to achieve these objectives were defined and implemented. This Plan focuses on the Activities relevant for DIS, and has the following objectives: 1) To improve the processes for personnel recruitment, retention, and advancement at DIS; 2) To ensure the sustainability of the activities towards higher gender equality, diversity, and work-family balance, which were initiated within the EQUAL-IST project. It is foreseen as a living document, which will be discussed and monitored continuously and reissued every four years. This plan is a relevant practice as it is based on the EQUAL-IST approach consisting in issuing sustainability plans for GEPs towards the end of a project, and for its comprehensive focus on advancing gender equality in ICT careers.
- Further information on the Plan
Leadership and decision-making
The leadership of the institution and its decision-making bodies need to be gender balanced for the organisation to truly live up to its values. Women and men should have equal access to and a balanced participation in leadership and (formal and informal) decision-making structures. Decision-making itself has to be gender-sensitive (or gender-responsive) because it takes into account gender differences and aims at promoting gender equality.
Useful to know
- Women are sometimes reluctant to apply for decision-making positions, especially in male-dominated contexts. This can be explained by a variety of factors. The still very masculine image of science, the way informal networks continue to function in selection processes and the fact that the bulk of high level positions remain occupied by men are just some of the elements that convey the message that there is no place for women at the top.
- Establishing open, cooperative working relations and a culture of respect contribute to building a working environment in which everybody can have confidence. At the same time, it is worth supporting and encouraging women to apply for decision-making positions all along their career trajectories.
- When the top of the organisation explicitly supports gender equality, legitimacy is given to the issue and all can feel safe raising gender matters when decisions need to be taken.
- Remember that gender balance in leadership and decision-making positions is a key concern at the EU level. The Council Conclusions on Advancing gender equality in the European Research Area (adopted in December 2015) invited relevant authorities to set up guiding targets, for example quantitative objectives, for better gender balance in decision-making bodies including leading scientific and administrative boards, recruitment and promotion committees as well as evaluation panels. Research funding and performing organisations are encouraged to reach these targets by 2020.
Existing tools and resources
- Charter for More Women in Management is a baseline report prepared by the University of Copenhagen.
- Methodologies and measures for analysing informal decision-making and communication processes (2015) is a report produced in the context of the EU-funded FESTA project. It looks into transparency and inclusivity in the informal decision-making and communication processes, and formulates suggestions to foster a more active participation of women in all the decision-making and communication processes.
- Gendering Decision Making and Communications Processes (2015). This report, developed in the context of the EU-funded FESTA project, shows how power works in organisations and provides recommendations for more transparency in decision-making processes to progress gender equality.
- Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination Laws in Austrian Higher Education is presentation about the specific laws that exist in Austria for higher education institutions, setting rules for the advancement of women and including quota for decision-making positions.
- E-learning package on Gender Competent Leadership in Academia developed by the EU-funded GENOVATE project. Section 4 of this tool (“How to overcome the barriers”) illustrates strategies and interventions to promote gender and diversity competent leadership.
Election procedure for the Board (BE)
In 2014, Ghent University (Belgium) changed its procedures for the election of its highest decision-making body, the Board of Governors (Raad van Bestuur) by requesting a 40/60 % gender-balanced representation of its members. As soon as the new procedure was implemented for the first time, it has instantly changed the university’s male-dominated board: gender balance was achieved for the first time in the university’s history. In the new procedure, faculties are required to have at least one male and one female candidate for the elections. If the elections have an unbalanced gender outcome (not respecting the minimum 40/60 gender balance) the candidate with the least votes from the overrepresented sex (compared to other faculties) has to give way to the faculty’s candidate of the other sex with the highest number of votes.
- Procedures for the election of the members of the Board of Governors (in Dutch)
- Regulations on the procedure for the appointment of members of the Executive Board (in Dutch)
- Rules for the composition of (advisory) boards and commissions (in Dutch)
- Rules for the composition, operational and decision-making processes of boards (in Dutch)
- Diversity and Gender Policy Unit at Ghent University
- Presentation by Tine Brouckaert at Learning and Dissemination Seminar on Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Higher Education Institutions (9 September 2016)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Tine Brouckaert (Tine.Brouckaert@UGent.be)
Gender-integrated Leadership Programme (AKKA) (SE)
In 2004, Lund University (Sweden) launched a gender-integrated leadership programme (AKKA). Within this programme, leadership is understood as something that can be learnt and developed, and that focuses on the individual´s competences, and not on personal characteristics. The AKKA programme aims at raising gender knowledge and awareness, and providing methods and tools for structural change in order to achieve sustainable gender equality. From 2004 to 2014, five AKKA programmes have been offered for 150 senior scholars in Lund University (Sweden) (of which 37 were men). The programme runs over a year with monthly meetings. Throughout the years, AKKA has increased the number of women in leading positions, contributed to an enhanced visibility of women as potential leaders, increased willingness of both women and men to assume leadership positions, raised gender awareness among female and male academic leaders, promoted networking and collaboration within the university, raised the knowledge about the university’s politics and activities, developed tools to deal with resistance to gender issues and for change management, contributed to highlight discrimination, and developed concrete change projects.
- AKKA reports: 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 (in Swedish)
- Report from the project 'Core values work at Lund University' by Tomas Brage and Inger Lövkrona (in English)
- Presentation by Inger Lövkrona at Learning and Dissemination Seminar on Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Higher Education Institutions (9 September 2016)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Inger Lövkrona (email@example.com)
Elections for the University Council (LT)
The EU-funded structural change INTEGER project has taken on a pioneering role at Siauliai University (SU) and in Lithuania as a whole. This project was fundamental to promote institutional transformation in a higher education institution. During the project’s implementation, the Council elections were planned to take place. Considering the striking underrepresentation of women in the university’s Council, the SU Council Election Tactics and Strategy Plan were developed within INTEGER in order to encourage a gender-balanced representation of the Council. Several activities were undertaken in order to empower female candidates to run in the university’s Council elections, such as: communication with the highest management staff at SU through formal meetings; consultation with the university lawyer about the possible ways of making women’s representation in the Council’s election; participation in the preparation of the election regulations; search for women candidates from SU representatives according to criteria such as loyalty to the university and commitment to implement gender equality at the university. As a result of these initiatives, the number of women to the Council significantly increased from 0 % in 2011 to 36.3 % in 2014.
- Video: How to increase women’s representation in the 2014 SU’s Council elections?
- EU-funded INTEGER project
- INTEGER’s Online Guidelines
- Presentation by Virginija Sidlauskiene at Learning and Dissemination Seminar on Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Higher Education Institutions (9 September 2016)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Virginija Sidlauskiene (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Combatting sexual and gender-based harassment
The fields of research and higher education are not immune to sexual and gender-based harassment. Actions are needed to put an end to this behaviour, such as: providing information regarding sexual and gender-based harassment, and offering attention and support to victims and witnesses of misconduct, with a commitment to putting an end to such behaviour.
Useful to know
- Sexual and gender-based harassment is a problem that tends to be underestimated in research organisations and universities. However, recent analyses and reviews, undertaken among others in the context of EU-funded structural change projects, have revealed the pressing need for action against this problem.
- Institutions may find it sufficient to treat sexual harassment under existing policies and procedures. Increasingly, however, institutions consider it necessary to set up dedicated structures and/or to issue specific procedures and instruments. In any case, the institution must make clear that it does not tolerate abuses.
- Educational programmes about sexual and gender-based harassment may prove useful in preventing its occurrence.
Existing tools and resources
- Guidelines on dealing with sexual harassment, developed by SciencePo (Paris) in the context of the EU-funded structural change EGERA project.
- Guidelines for the prevention of Sexual Harassment, Harassment on the grounds of Sex and Psychological Harassment (2015). This concise guide was developed by the Polytechnic University of Madrid in the context of the EU-funded structural change TRIGGER project.
- Preventing and responding to gender based violence - Guidance for SOAS students and staff (2015), from the SOAS University of London. This document presents awareness-raising and prevention initiatives as well as guidance for victims and those supporting victims.
- The Intervention Initiative toolkit (2015), developed by University of the West of England (UWE) for the prevention of sexual coercion and domestic abuse in university settings.
- Vademecum on sexual harassment in higher education and research (2015) (in French). This guide aims at supporting institutions to set in place actions to fight sexual harassment. It responds to the questions of various institutional actors, directly or indirectly concerned by the topic (Human Resources services, juridical services, management, health providers, equality officers, etc.
Protocol for preventing and tackling sexual harassment and gender-based violence (FR)
Fighting sexual harassment ranked among the priorities of the Gender Equality Plan adopted by the university Sciences Po (Paris, France) as part of the EU-funded structural change EGERA project. A comprehensive protocol was designed to monitor, report and take action about potential cases. This protocol targets all categories of users, including students, teaching staff, researchers and other staff. It aims at building an atmosphere based on mutual respect, to prevent any illegal behaviour and to offer victims or witnesses of gender-based violence or harassment a safe environment to report, ensuring the privacy of what they communicate. A monitoring unit consisting of 11 staff was established, who are in direct contact with the different categories of users of the university and the gender equality officers. The members of this unit receive training on a yearly basis. It also includes the dissemination, both in French and English, of guidelines on sexual harassment, as well as a dedicated hotline and mail address, permanently displayed on the internal information system of Sciences Po.
Integrating gender in research and education content
Integrating the gender dimension means taking into account the biological characteristics and the social features of both women and men, girls and boys. Our knowledge is the basis on which future generations will build their societies. It is therefore crucial that the knowledge which is created through research and transferred through education is free of gender bias.
Particularly, when relevant, research and innovation activities need to critically examine both gender differences and inequalities. The added-value of integrating a gender dimension in research and innovation allows: a) ensuring excellence and quality in outcomes and enhancing sustainability, b) making research and innovation more responsive to social needs and c) developing new ideas and fostering innovation. Through the inclusion of a gender dimension in research and innovation content, gender biases are more likely to be tackled and eliminated.
Also, as education forms our future scientists, young people need to be taught about the gender aspects of their disciplines and trained to perform gender-sensitive research.
Useful to know
- A subject is considered gender relevant when it can be expected that its findings affect (groups of) women and men, or girls and boys, differently.
- Integrating the gender dimension in the research content requires the consideration of sex and gender aspects throughout all stages of the research cycle: from the definition of research questions and hypotheses, the selection of research methods and during the running of research activities, to the analysis and reporting of results.
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) research topics often appear as gender-neutral. In such cases, the following questions can be asked about aspects that are not gender-neutral: who decides on the research agenda; whose interests and needs are served with the research; who will be the users of the knowledge that is to be produced; who can benefit and in which way from the research? It is always relevant to produce research that has a high societal value and can provide answers to societal needs.
- Teachers’ and lecturers’ interactions with students are unconsciously influenced by gender stereotypes. Young people also hold stereotypical beliefs about women’s and men’s ‘natural’ abilities. Countering such stereotypes allows for everyone to engage with science in all its aspects without constraints set by ungrounded preconceptions.
Existing tools and resources
- Research and Innovation:
- Toolkit – Gender in EU-funded research. This toolkit clearly explains and provides guidance on how to integrate gender in research. It addresses both the gender dimension of research content (with case examples from nine different scientific fields) and women’s participation in research activities. One-day training sessions, based on the toolkit, can be organised.
- Gendered Innovations. A website providing recommendations, examples, case studies and tools for sex and gender analysis in research content for various scientific fields.
- Videos by Londa Schiebinger on the gender dimension in research content.
- Video on understanding gender dimension for MSCA projects by the European Commission. This video will explain you what gender dimension in research is about and give you examples of how it can be integrated within your research project and improve the quality of your research.
- The EU-funded EUGENMED project focused on the identification of focal areas of work where sex and gender play a major role in medicine. This consortium developed a Roadmap for a gender-sensitive approach to health care research and practice in Europe, among other resources (such as policy briefs).
An Australian Broadcasting Corporation 30 minute program on sex differences in health: Let's talk about sex...differences on Science Friction. See also written materials accompanying the program.
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research have on their website a number of free training modules on how to deal with sex and gender in health research. Have a look at the first module on “Sex and Gender in Health Research” below.
- The EU-funded GENDER-NET project developed the IGAR tool: Recommendations for Integrating Gender Analysis into Research. Guidelines and Checklists for IGAR have been developed for Research Funding Organisations, Grant Applicants and Peer Reviewers/Evalutors. Useful references and examples are also made available, along with IGAR indicators. Take the opportunity to check the Recommendations and Models for Integrating Gender Analysis into University Curricula (IGAUC). Watch the IGAR video below.
- Research and Teaching:
- Toolkit for Integrating Gender-Sensitive Approach into Research and Teaching, prepared by Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc and Ana Hofman within the EU-funded structural change GARCIA project.
- Manuals with guidelines on the integration of sex and gender analysis into research contents, recommendations for curricula development and indicators, a report by the EU-funded research policy initiative GENDER-NET.
- Publication on integrating sex and gender in medical research and teaching prepared by the Charité Berlin, Institute of Gender in Medicine.
- Policy document on integrating sex and gender in medical research and teaching by the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).
- E-module for integrating sex and gender in medical research and teaching and a publication on the e-module prepared by the Charité Berlin, Institute of Gender in Medicine.
- Guidelines on gender fair curriculum development (2010), an Austrian publication, present a diagnosis tool and a catalogue of aspects to be considered for developing a gender-fair curriculum to improve equality of access and success for both male and female students in higher education.
- One size fits all? Enhancing gender awareness in teaching. A publication from the EU-funded TWIST project.
- A syllabus bank for higher education courses on gender and politics, collected by the Standing Group on Gender and Politics of the European Consortium for Political Research.
- The Gender Bias Learning website is a rich resource for teaching about gender bias patterns, reviewing knowledge of gender bias patterns, and teaching strategies for managing gender bias.
- The ATGENDER book series ‘Teaching with Gender’ collects articles on a wide range of teaching practices in the field of gender.
Gender lectureship: a model for mainstreaming in higher education (SE)
Following the rationale that gender mainstreaming is possible within every subject, in 2005, Linköping University (Sweden) created gender lectureships in order to assist its faculties on how to mainstream gender equality. The gender lectureships are established by the Vice-Chancellor and aim at actively contributing to mainstreaming gender within the content of study programmes and courses, and at developing pedagogical models for gender sensitive teaching and gender equality in higher education. Education must be provided in such a way that women’s and men’s experiences and knowledge are developed in a gender sensitive way. This is important to counteract unequal power relations between women and men. During the last decade, gender lectureships have been contributing to continuously work on gender mainstreaming at Linköping University. In practical terms, the gender lectureships provide resources, competences and sustainability to gender mainstreaming work. It is a programme that continuously addresses gender issues within the structure of the university. It aims to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in all study programmes, including at PhD level.
Analytical measures, targets, indicators, monitoring and evaluation
Collecting, assessing, reviewing, analysing numbers, data, procedures and practices enable optimal planning and implementation of gender equality work. A Gender Equality Plan or any other gender equality ad-hoc initiatives need to be grounded in evidence. An initial assessment of the state-of-play of gender equality in the institution usually includes a statistical analysis of sex-disaggregated data, a documentary analysis of national legal and policy documents, along with the organisation’s strategic and operational documents.
This analysis will provide pertinent insights to decide on the measures or actions required to progress gender equality (see here: ‘How to analyse and assess the state-of-play in the institution’). Then, it is important to set targets and to follow up the implementation of measures or actions in order to monitor the progress, as well as to improve measures or actions along the way. Finally, once measures or actions are concluded, it is pertinent to evaluate them in order to learn relevant lessons for future initiatives (see here: ‘How to monitor progress and evaluate a Gender Equality Plan’).
Useful to know
- While baseline data and information are necessary as input for tailoring a context-sensitive Gender Equality Plan, it is good not to spend too much time just collecting and analysing information. If necessary, complementary analytical efforts can still be undertaken when concrete activities have started already.
- The best way to capture the status of gender (in-)equality in the organisation and to assess progress is by combining the use of quantitative indicators with qualitative ones. Gender-sensitive and gender-specific indicators are key to measure gender-related changes over time. They can be quantitative (e.g. number of female and male researchers), or qualitative (usually used to capture/assess people’s experiences, opinions, attitudes, behaviours and feelings). While quantitative indicators can provide statistical evidence of what has changed, qualitative analyses allow assessing the quality of change and help understanding why certain patterns have occurred.
- Remember that ‘women’ and ‘men’ are no monolithic groups and that differences in the situations of individuals within these groups might be bigger than between the groups. Attention for intersecting inequalities and the influence of other factors (like age, family status, contractual basis, …) is thus warranted.
- Monitoring efforts not only allow to measure the impact of initiatives and the progress made towards gender equality, they also enable to identify what can be done better. Monitoring is thus important for learning: to take on board the lessons from the practice and to improve what is done.
Existing tools and resources
- The She Figures Handbook can strengthen your capacity to systematically produce meaningful data as it provides methodological guidance on the calculation of indicators included in the She Figures 2015 publication. Organised by data source, information provided on each indicator includes a brief definition, rationale, computation method and any comments or critical issues for the reader to note.
- The EU-funded structural change project INTEGER developed a number of ready-to-use templates, to be used as tools, to support universities and research organisations in the assessment of their Gender Equality Plans.
- The EU-funded structural change project STAGES provides in its guidelines some insightful recommendations to collect data and monitor gender equality. Check pages 29-33 for more information.
- The EU-funded structural change project FESTA developed a toolkit aimed at providing practical insights, examples and tools to collect and understand statistics (including indicators), and to translate these figures into awareness.
- The EU-funded structural change project GenisLab provides detailed instructions to carry out a Participatory Gender Audit (PGA). A PGA is an action-research methodology that helps ‘mapping’ an organisation from a gender equality perspective. This methodology combines an objective observation of facts and data with a more in-depth and qualitative reflection on individual and collective rules, behaviours, and beliefs, as well as their impact on gender equality. Download the complete GenisLab guidelines and tools for institutional change and read pages 29 to 55.
- Sets of possible indicators on structural change in research organisations and higher education institutions are under development in a couple of EU-funded projects, e.g. Gender-Net and EGERA. Keep an eye on their websites for updates on indicators.
- Science Europe developed a Practical Guide to Improving Gender Equality in Research Organisations, part two of the document deals with "How to Monitor Gender Equality" as of page 26.
A survey to know your institution (CZ)
In line with recommendations for implementation of structural change, the gender equality implementation process must build on “knowing the institution”. For this purpose an initial comprehensive institutional analysis was performed at the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT Prague) (Czech Republic). This analysis included 1) statistical data collection and analysis, 2) questionnaire survey of working conditions of both academic and administrative staff, work-life balance, mobility, research and teaching evaluation, 3) individual and group interviews, 4) documentary analysis, 5) media analysis, and 6) analysis of legislative framework in the Czech Republic from a gender perspective. The research design and instrument were developed and the analyses performed by an external gender expert partner, the National Contact Centre for Gender and Science at the Institute of Sociology. These analyses served to identify bottlenecks and issues to be tackled through the Gender Equality Plan (GEP), and will be periodically repeated, to guide upcoming GEP implementation and actions and to guide institutional development at UCT Prague. Following the statistical data collection, the internal monitoring system was amended to include the variable “sex” to facilitate monitoring in the future.
- Presentation by Marcela Linkova at Learning and Dissemination Seminar on Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Higher Education Institutions (9 September 2016)
- Contact details: Anna Mittnerova (Anna.Mittnerova@vscht.cz), Marta Vohlidalova (email@example.com) and Marcela Linkova (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gender Equality Report: Monitoring progress towards gender equality in the university (PT)
University of Beira Interior (UBI) was the first university in Portugal to set up a gender equality plan. The pioneer work of UBI in this field is well-known in the country. A thorough initial assessment (2010-2011) of the gender equality state-of-play of the university preceded the development of the Gender Equality Plan. UBI’s Plan established as a measure the elaboration of sex-disaggregated statistics about teaching and non-teaching staff, and students. Since 2012, Gender Equality Reports have been prepared on an annual basis to monitor the progress towards gender equality in the university. These reports are publicly accessible and build on the initial assessment carried out early in the process of setting up UBI’s gender equality plan. The analysis provided in the reports considers the gender balance in terms of disciplines taught and on decision-making and leadership positions, the gender pay gap, the use of measures to reconcile professional and personal life (like flexible working hours), a gender analysis of the utilisation of leaves, and information about the number of students disaggregated by sex and faculty.
- Website of UBIgual (in Portuguese)
- Initial assessment report about Gender Equality in University of Beira Interior (in Portuguese)
- Gender Equality Plan (in Portuguese)
- Gender Equality Reports since 2012 (filter by ‘Relatório de Igualdade de Género’) (in Portuguese)
- Presentation by Catarina Sales Oliveira at Learning and Dissemination Seminar on Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Higher Education Institutions (9 September 2016)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Catarina Sales Oliveira (email@example.com)
Gender Report (IT)
The “Bilancio di Genere” (referred hereafter as Gender Report) of the University of Ferrara (Italy) is an action implemented by the Unique Guarantee Committee for Equal Opportunities in Public Administrations for workers’ wellbeing and against discrimination (CUG) and the Equal Opportunities Committees (CPO) since 2011. It is divided in four parts: 1) In the first (and most important) part it monitors the participation of women in the organisation among students, professors, clerical workers and all decision-making bodies; 2) It describes equal opportunities bodies in the organisation; 3) It describes the Positive Action Plan of the University (PAP) and its objectives; 4) It monitors what actions of the PAP have been realised. The Gender Report was firstly introduced by the first PAP (2011-2013) of the University of Ferrara as part of the Social Responsibility Budget of the University. It is now part of the second PAP (2014-2016) as a monitoring action. The Gender Report of the University of Ferrara is considered a milestone in the Italian academic system. It uses quantitative methodologies to collect data on career trajectories following the European Union’s ‘She Figures’ indicators. The Gender Report is written in cooperation with the Statistical Office of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) and for the first time it has produced longitudinal data on the presence of women inside a university. Since 2011, each year, the Gender Report is made available online on the website of the ‘Equality and Diversity’ unit of the University of Ferrara. The ‘Equality and Diversity’ unit of the University of Ferrara received 183.000 Euro from the Department of Equal Opportunities (DPO) of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers in order to create a model of Gender Report – in the form of guidelines – and to propose to all Italian Universities, Public Administrations and Public Corporations to apply this model, with the aim to harmonise data and collect national indicators.
Incentives to promote gender equality
Both rewards and sanctions can push forward change towards gender equality by stimulating the desired behaviour among actors. Rewarding positive contributions has the potential to enhance the working relations and the organisational atmosphere.
Useful to know
- Give proper visibility to the incentives to promote gender equality. Make sure the target audience of these incentives is aware of their existence. Provide information on when and how to apply.
- Define gender-sensitive and gender-specific criteria to apply to the incentive.
- Be transparent about the selection process.
Existing tools and resources
- The EU-funded GENDER-NET project produced a report which analyses existing awards to promote gender equality structural change. This report assesses the impact of national and regional award schemes aimed at creating greater gender equality, and their ability to stimulate gender equality and enact structural change with regard to gender equality in research institutions.
Encouraging gender equality activities at the grassroot level across the university (FI)
Between 2002 and 2011, the University of Helsinki (Finland) made funding available for small-scale gender equality projects across the university. The funding increased grass-roots engagement in gender equality work, helped to identify and address the specific problems and needs of different faculties and departments, and created permanent networks and good practices. Over the course of 10 years, gender equality projects were implemented at all levels: in faculties, departments and units. A broad range of disciplines from almost all faculties was represented, including gender studies, veterinary medicine, theology, mathematics, political sciences, law, educational science, biosciences and physics. In most cases, the initiative came from staff or students, and the project was planned together with the leadership. The projects included gender equality trainings, initiatives to integrate a gender dimension into teaching content in different disciplines, and gender impact assessments of on-going reforms. Several faculties and departments conducted in-depth studies to assess their respective gender equality situations and identify ways to improve it. Hands-on gender equality projects in male-dominated disciplines, such as mathematics and physics, took steps to improve the position of women students and researchers. In some cases, follow-up funding to make use of the knowledge and tools developed in previous projects was applied and granted. The results of the projects were presented to the whole university in annual gender equality seminars that provided visibility and a possibility to exchange experiences. The concrete results (e.g. studies, tools, reports) were made available in the intranet of the university as good practice to be learnt from and made use of.
- Contact details: Terhi Somerkallio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Introducing a gender perspective in research content and teaching (ES)
Since 2010, a gender perspective in research content award is being organised on an annual basis by the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) (Spain). The award aims to recognise and make visible existing research projects and teaching practices that stand out for integrating a gender dimension in research content. Six prizes are awarded annually: three for teaching achievements (excluding gender-specific courses) and three for research projects in any field (which integrate a gender dimension in hypothesis formulation, research design, methodology, research processes or the dissemination and publication of results). The award is fostering synergies with other initiatives undertaken by the university such as gender training and conferences. The award is remarkably bringing more visibility to gender in research and teaching. Furthermore, synergies were activated with other parallel initiatives (such as conferences and trainings) on which awardees have the possibility to share their research findings or how they managed to introduce a gender perspective in their teaching activity (including obstacles and resistances faced and how these were overcome).
- Documents concerning the prize call, list of applicants and respective research and teaching works, and jury decision: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 (in Galician)
- Information about the Annual Galician University Conference on Gender: 2013, 2014, 2015 (in Galician)
- Information about the training Applying gender perspective to university teaching (in Galician)
- Full description on EIGE's compendium of good practices
- Contact details: Eva Aguayo (email@example.com)