In February 2020, four seminars took place in Athens and Thessaloniki that targeted media stakeholders and tackled sexism in the public sphere. Participants included journalists, university students in media and journalism, and women participating in public fora.
The seminars were hosted by the Greek General Secretariat of Family Policy and Gender Equality (GSFPGE) as part of a European Union project whose objective is to recognize, address and prevent gender discrimination in public debates by reinforcing the capacity of two kinds of stakeholders:
Female politicians in the public sphere ; and
Women in media, including journalists, media studies students, bloggers, etc.
The project, entitled “Gender Public Debate: Capacity building for women candidates and media stakeholders in public debates in Greece,” is co-funded by the EU Program REC 2014-20.
As part of the PEGASUS project, the event also saw launch of an Online Pension Calculator designed to help people calculate future pension benefits based on current and projected employment. By completing three fields, users are given the option to evaluate different career and family life scenarios and assess the impact of their choices on pension benefits. On this basis, they are encouraged to make informed decisions today that will support them in securing pensions.
The Online Pension Calculator aims to create awareness about the so-called “pension gap,” or difference in pension benefits between men and women, which approaches 30% in the EU and 25% in Greece in favor of men. The calculator was developed in the context of the PEGASUS project, whose aim is addressing the Gender Pension in Greece. PEGASUS is being implemented in collaboration between the Greek General Secretariat for Family Policy and Gender Equality (coordinator), the Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI) and the National Center for Social Research (EKKE). It is funded by the European Union’s “Rights, Equality and Citizenship” Program 2014-2020.
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The National Agency for the Promotion of Scientific Research (ANPR) of Tunisia is a public agency under supervision of The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Its primary mission is providing services to professionalize the management of research activities in partnership with effective and equitable socio-economic operators. It plays a crucial role in interfacing with and supporting research organization in the valorization process of research results and technology transfer. As a Research Funding Organization (RFO), ANPR works in a national context, which recognizes the important historic place occupied by women in society in general, and in the field of science in particular.
Tunisia has always been considered as one of the most advanced Arab countries in terms of women’s rights, thanks to a family code promulgated in 1956, followed by the amendment of the labor codes, the penal code and nationality. These legal regulations have strengthened the rights of women in Tunisia.
March 1, 2018 marked the formal adoption of the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) by ANPR, which represents a fundamental action of R&I PEERS project and a key tool for encouraging the improvement of gender balance in ANPR, in its capacity as a Tunisian piloting partner in the project.
The ANPR GEP covers the following six target areas:
Raising awareness of gender bias in decision-making bodies
Raising awareness of importance of gender perspective in research content and curricula and promoting female academics ’research
Improving gender-sensitive language in ANPR’s documents
Raising awareness of gender equality
In the framework of the GEP implementation, ANPR has carried out awareness-raising actions by organizing workshops and training for the benefit of key actors, including mentors, decision-makers, et al. ANPR promotes awareness of the role of women in the R&I ecosystem and showcases achievements of female Tunisian researchers through participation in several national and international events. This latter includes hosting a desk for the RI-PEERS project as part of an exhibition on Horizon 2020 projects at the 9-10 September 2019 high-level conference on “Tunisian-European Science and Innovation Days” [TESI], jointly organized by the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS), European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission (DG RTD), and the Delegation of the European Union (DUE) in Tunisia.
ANPR also participated in the January 2020 international Information Day on Horizon 2020 Calls within the H2020 “Science With and For Society” (SWAFS) Work Programme, by providing testimony on the RI-PEERS project and underlining the importance of the gender dimension in research organizations. Leveraging modern communication tools, ANPR also moderates a dedicated Facebook Group promoting “Success Stories of Tunisian Females in Research and Innovation”.
A community for equal opportunity has also been established that provides a space for discussion and reflection around gender issues in the R&I ecosystem. Thanks to the period of general confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic, ANPR was able to experiment with remote work as an alternative favoring work-life balance, as provided for in the GEP, despite the legal limits of its adoption for public officials. The evaluation of this mode of work is in progress .
Other activities that are planned for implementation by the end of the R&I PEERS project include the following:
Regular training sessions for early career researchers;
Awarding of the Women in Science Excellence Prize; and
Establishing channels to report anonymously disrespectful behavior, abuse and sexual harassment.
The GEP is an innovation in the practices of Tunisian public administration in general, and in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research institutions in particular. Its implementation raises many challenges that can inspire other structures within the same ministry and far beyond!
Friday 20 September, Confindustria Salerno hosted the event “Doppia Coppia, research and innovation + gender and generation. The complementary talents that make the company grow “.
The initiative, commissioned by the Confindustria Women’s Committee of Salerno, and in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano, is part of the Horizon 2020 project: “R&I Peers: Pilot Experiences For Improving Gender Equality In Research Organizations (Pilot experiences to improve the equality of genre in research organizations), of which the University of Salerno is leader with the support of the Observatory for Gender Studies and Equal Opportunities (OGEPO).
Among the other interventions, were present the testimonies of Gerardo and Susy Gambardella of Bioplast; by Antonello and Valentina Sada of Sada Packaging and Fausta Colosimo and Antonia Trucillo from Caffè Trucillo on how different but complementary genders and generational alliances, can prove to be decisive variables in determining the business success and growth.
The first Doctoral seminar dedicated to the presentation of the European project “R&I PEERS – Piloting Experiences for Improving Gender Equality in Research Organisations” will take place at the University of Salerno, on Friday 28 June 2019 at 10,30 am. The event, focused on gender issue in research, is organised by OGEPO-UniSa (Interdepartmental Observatory for the Gender studies and Equal Opportunities). It represents one of the activities envisaged within the Gender Equality Plan of the UniSa, approved in the framework of the R&I PEERS. At the heart of the debate there will be some key current issues concerning “Women and Science” such as university career paths, the European research area and equal opportunities policies. The seminar will include speeches of Maria Rosaria Pelizzari, Director of the OGEPO and Coordinator of the R&I PEERS project; Loredana Incarnato, Responsible for the STEM area of the R&I PEERS project; Federica Di Sarcina, R&I PEERS research fellow and expert on European gender equality policy and Annalisa Apicella, Vice-Coordinator of ADI Salerno.The event is supported by ADI Salerno, the Italian Association of PhD candidates and PhDs.
On May, 20 ZRC SAZU organized a discussion »ZRC: we are women too« on the promotion of science from a gender perspective. This is the first from the series of activities titled ŽRC SAZU, which will actively promote academic excellence of female researchers. Four distinguished researchers were invited, employed by ZRC SAZU, to speak about their work. Archeologist Lucija Grahek discovered a rare gold coin from the Iron Age, ethnomusicologist Ana Hofman received the Austrian award for science Danubius, historian Petra Svoljšak is known for extensive promotion of the First World War in the Slovenian public, while philosopher Alenka Zupančič recently published “What is Sex?”, her third book at MIT Press, one of the leading international academic publishers.
Scholars discussed the role of gender in academic work from different perspectives. They underlined the complexity of this issue, which cannot be divorced from other social factors and power relations. Together with gender there is a need to consider statuses and hierarchies between academic fields, as some fields are more established then others. There is also a difference between researchers that work in their mother tongue and those who adopted new languages and left their home countries. Additional issue that defines career and life choices of successful researchers is also class and family background. But, one of the biggest challenges of the academic work seems to be, according to researchers, the administrative burden, bureaucracy, and project-oriented nature of their work that lead to unstable, short term employment and precarity.
Invited speakers opened the question of the promotion of the academic results through the perspective of generational differences. They noted that older colleagues are less focused on the promotion, as they do not share the mind-set that everything that is »produced«, including academic results, needs to be sold on the market. This is why, they thought, younger generations and those on the lower stages of their academic careers are more involved in promotional activities. However, results of the quantitative analysis of ZRC SAZU’s social media posts showed different picture: 70% of scientists, who are promoted, are male and in the higher stage of their academic career. This is one of the reasons why a specific set of activities for promotion of female researchers were organised, and included it in the Action plan for promoting gender equality.
At the second progress meeting for the R&I PEERS project, held in Athens on 4 April 2019, consortium members organised a workshop on “how to integrate the gender dimension into research content.” The aim of this training was to provide consortium partners with knowledge on how to integrate the gender perspective in research in a way that does not deal with the topic of “gender” as a specific research objective.
The aim of the Toolkit itself is to help researchers and teaching staff understand the relevance of gender to scientific inquiry by addressing questions to their past and future research/teaching trajectories. Using the Toolkit, then, the focus of the workshop was to:
Raise awareness about the value of integrating the gender dimension in research;
Examine how the gender perspective could lead open new opportunities research inquiry; and
Promote more socially responsible and sensitive scientific inquiry.
Starting from the premise that there are no ready-made solutions, the workshop participants were asked to describe a project that does not have gender component so the group could practice gender-sensitive approach from scratch. In this way, the workshop was structured as a thought exercise in which the convenor facilitated discussions on how a gender-sensitive approach could be applied on concrete project questions, methodologies, and results.
Workshop participants were evenly divided between those familiar with gender studies concepts and those from disciplines where exposure to such concepts is rare. This encouraged lively debate where, through exchange of knowledge between the groups, a notable achievement was an increase in understanding around the concepts of ‘gender’ and ‘intersectionality’.
The First Multisectoral Conference of the R&I PEERS project took place in Athens on 3 April 2019, and was attended by approximately sixty participants, including Ms Maria Theleriti, Member of Greek Parliament, who also represented Mr Nikos Voutsis, President of the Greek Parliament. The Conference was opened by Ms Marina Chrysoveloni, Greek Deputy Minister of the Interior in charge of Gender Equality and representative of Mr Alexis Charitsis, Greek Minister of the Interior, followed by introductory remarks from Ms Maria Rosaria Pelizzari of UNISA, R&I PEERS Project Coordinator.
A representative of Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche (Italy) then discussed the importance of using correct indicators for Gender Equality Plans and the methodology employed for identifying these indicators. Ms Marta Artilles Viera, EC representative, then made a remote presentation outlining ERA guidelines and Project Objectives for the R&I PEERS project.
The conference also showcased two ongoing “sister” Gender Equality projects in Research and Innovation, also funded by Horizon 2020, that promote Gender Equality Plan implementation. Greek representatives of these projects, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the National Documentation Center (Greece), presented the project objectives and results achieved so far within the two discussed projects, noted below:
TARGET Project: SUPPORTING Gender Equality Innovating Institutions in the Mediterranean; and
Ensuing debate highlighted the need for networking among partners at national level and incentives to strengthen the diffusion of gender in research, including toward operation of research organizations.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science will be marked by the traditional roundtable on 7 March, taking place at the premises of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport . The roundtable will be divided in two parts: first, the participants will try to elaborate the strategies and measures to ensure the translation of one-time measures for increasing equal opportunities in the academic sphere into longer-term changes. Second, Gender Equality Plans developed by various research institutions will be presented, with specific focus on ZRC SAZU’s Gender Equality Plan. It will be presented by Dr. Oto Luthar, the Director of ZRC SAZU, and Dr. Tanja Petrović, the coordinator of the R&I PEERS project at ZRC SAZU
On 7 November 2018, the first Mutual Learning Workshop of the R&I PEERS project, entitled “Towards the identification of best practices in the Gender Equality Arena within an organisation,” was organised in Rome in collaboration between the R&I PEERS partners Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute (CNTI), and CIC nanoGUNE.
The workshop, which was realised using the participatory methodology of the Structured Democratic Dialogue (SDD), brought together fifteen (15) experts from the gender equality field representing universities, governmental and scientific bodies as well as enterprises to discuss the existing practices in the gender equality sphere which can be utilised for the development and implementation of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) by the R&I PEERS consortium.
The main conclusions of the workshop were the following:
Necessity to exploit the already collected administrative data which must be updated on an annual base in order to have a comprehensive recording of the institutional situation in terms of the different areas of the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) implementation as well as allow the GEP team to promptly propose additional measures to reflect to the new situation;
Introduction of basic gender curricula in STEM in academic institutions;
Research evaluation committees in recruitment procedures should be composed by both male and female evaluators in order to avoid unconscious barriers related to the gender of the candidates;
Gender Equality should not be treated as an issue concerning only women but also men and for this reason, steps towards the active engagement of men in Gender Equality Committees is pivotal.
The results of the workshop will feed the second Mutual Learning Workshop which is scheduled to take place on November 2019 in Slovenia.
Figure 1 Map of influences for the Rome Mutual Learning Workshop