The road to UNISA’S first Gender Equality Plan

Maria Rosaria Pelizzari from University of Salerno (UNISA) in southern Italy, published a paper about UNISA’s first GEP. The paper is part of the proceedings of the Conference “Diversity Management: challenges and new frontiers to break down for research organisations”. The paper “The R&I PEERS project at the University of Salerno: the implementation of GEPs in research organisations”, is completely open access, and available here (from page 197 to page 210). 

The article aims at retracing the road that has led the Observatory for Gender Studies and Equal Opportunities (OGEPO) to achieve significant goals till its engagement to shape and launch UNISA’S first Gender Equality Plan, the first of the seven GEPs planned within the H2020 R&I PEERS.

New Greek law on gender balance in the composition of management boards

On 17-7-2020 a new law on corporate management was published at the Government Gazette (Law 4706/2020, Nr of the Gazette 136/A/17-7-2020). Special provision has been taken in favour of women’s participation in economic decision making. More specifically:

On article 3 it is clearly stated that the composition of the management board of all companies registered at the Athens Stock Exchange must take the issue of gender balance into consideration through the adoption of 25% for the under-represented sex.

So, Greece is included among the EU Member States which follow the path of the positive measure of quota aiming at the increase of female participation in economic decision making. It has to be underlined that during the recent Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January-June 2014), our governmental organization in charge of equality between women and men promoted the European Commission’s Directive Proposal on gender balance in the composition of management boards despite the strong opposition by a minority of Member States.

Broaden your Career Opportunities with the Leadership, Gender Equality, and Diversity Opportunities Master at the University of Salerno (Italy)

The Master LEADERSHIP GENDER EQUALITY DIVERSITY OPPORTUNITIES (LeGenDO) represents an important outcome in the extensive research, programmes, and activities developed within the Horizon Project 2020, R&I Peers (ID. 788171), at the University of Salerno (Italy). This outstanding University, recognised as one of the most influential Italian institutions in terms of both research activity and teaching programs (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/university-salerno) is also leader of a consortium of 10 European partners of the R&I Peers Project. The Master project, approved by the Department of Human Studies (Dipsum), is one of the main actions of the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) within the domain “Gender Perspective in Teaching and Research”. The course aims at bridging the gap between business-focused and values-based, humanistic leadership skills.

Designed specifically for graduated who intend to boost their career opportunities in Gender Equality and Diversity Opportunity areas, this twelve month program also provides an excellent opportunity for professionals who want to harness and develop the right skills that add value to a business, whilst embarking on a leadership development journey.

On completion of this programme, you’ll be empowered to:

– Create a personal project work, starting from its development plan, including the aims, objectives, and resources needed for the implementation, to the impact evaluation phase.

– Critically examine and recognise the leadership potential, under a perspective of Inclusiveness, Gender Equality, and Diversity Opportunities, together with its outcomes in political, economic, and social terms.

– Understand how to respond to culture and gender assumptions and stereotypes, including LGBT, to overcome the binary category of gender and adopting gender fair strategies to combat sexist and discriminating hate speech on both traditional and online media.  

– Evaluate and experiment a range of methods and resources to develop and implement GEPs in Diversity Management and Gender Equality subjects.

– Join a global network of local and international companies and associations to broaden the impact and influence of your own project.

Important: Due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the starting date of the Master’s degree courses may be postponed to the academic year 2021-2022.

Driving Gender Equality in Nanoscience

CIC nanoGUNE is one of the seven piloting organisations implementing a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) under the umbrella of the EU R&I PEERS project. NanoGUNE is a research performing organisation of medium size, employing approximately one hundred people, which focuses on nanoscience and nanotechnology. NanoGUNE launched its GEP in April 2019.

NanoGUNE is very committed to the implementation of its GEP. To strengthen the implementation of the GEP, aligned with execution of the R&I PEERS project, nanoGUNE carried out two key actions:

  1. Establishment of a Gender Equality Committee (GEC)
  2. Hiring of a consultant, Elhuyar Aholkularitza

With the aim of ensuring a credible, sustainable, realistic, and responsible GEP, nanoGUNE has consolidated a transparent, inclusive and participatory process together with its workforce. The main example was the exhaustive online questionnaire carried out between August and September 2018 which aimed at identifying the staff needs regarding eight key areas of action (Table 1).

Table 1. GEP Target areas at CIC nanoGUNE

In addition, three actions were recently carried out at nanoGUNE, in the area identified by the project as Conciliation, as highlighted in the questionnaire on addressing Work-Life Balance issues.

Table 2. GEP Survey Question on Work-Life Balance
  1. An agreement with a nearby childcare facility with discounts for nanoGUNE employees, and a special arrangement for attendees of conferences organised/co-organised by nanoGUNE in Donostia-San Sebastián
  2. A campaign to organize meetings during core working hours of the institute, between 9am and 5pm
  3. Promoting telework, where possible, depending on the position , if requested, and as required for addressing work-life balance issues

Tackling Pension Gaps and Sexism in the Public Sphere in Greece

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.

For more information, please visit the links below:

Implementing Gender Equality Plans at the Tunisian Agency for Scientific Research Promotion

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.

IEEE: Female Researchers in the Maghreb

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:

  1. Mentoring
  2. Raising awareness of gender bias in decision-making bodies
  3. Raising awareness of importance of gender perspective in research content and curricula and promoting female academics ’research
  4. Improving gender-sensitive language in ANPR’s documents
  5. Work-life balance
  6. 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.

Who Are Women

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 .

ANPR at Horizon 2020 SWaFS Information Day – January 2020

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!

MIGAL Program Promotes Women Researchers

Implementation of the R&I PEERS project at MIGAL, Galilee Research Institute Ltd., is designed to develop activities with a group of women researchers from various fields of knowledge and expertise. The idea was to lead research at the MIGAL Institute for scientific excellence and to encourage a research breakthrough.

In the context of the project, a training program was deployed that included a variety of workshops, lectures and meetings aimed at enriching the women’s toolkit, improve skills and create rich scientific and work-life balance. In addition, regional and national industries were engaged in order to contribute to future know-how development at Galilee by increasing involvement of women in the fields of agriculture, environment, biotechnology and food science. This training reached over twenty women researchers.

Text Box: Fig 1: Senior and junior researchers by gender at MIGAL
Fig 2: Senior and junior researchers by gender at MIGAL

The challenge addressed by the project is the existing inequality in senior research positions. A survey conducted at the beginning of the project indicated that, despite gender equity at pre-admission stage, the balance between women and men diverges considerably in among primary researchers.

The women’s training program in research that been carried out all year has been a huge success and we have a new plan for next year.

Mutual Learning Workshop in Ljubljana

On October 14, 2019, the second Mutual Learning workshop under the topic of “Towards the identification of measures and actions for successful Gender Equality Plans implementation within Research Performing Organisations (RPO)” took place in Ljubljana in collaboration between the Znanstvenoraziskovalni Center Slovenske Akademije Znanosti In Umetnosti (ZRC SAZU) and the Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute (CNTI).

The workshop was executed following the principles of the methodology of the Structured Democratic Dialogue (SDD) and was attended by fifteen (15) participants holding either research or administrative positions in their institutions. The goal of the workshop was to identify measures/actions (administrative, organizational culture-related, financial, legal…) which could be taken to make Gender Equality Plan implementation beneficial for all employees in research organizations.

The main conclusions of the workshop were the following:

  • Organisational and political support on implementation of gender equality: Women’s gender representation principle should be applied when appointing work bodies and preparing legal acts and other strategic documents in order to assert the role of women and gender. These action plans should have an obligatory nature, be supported by policy and thus follow a top to bottom approach;
  • Awareness raising: Raising awareness of unpaid care work within academia and institutions is an important factor to ensure that all employees benefit from the implementation of GEPs;
  • Management support: The role of superiors in the implementation of GEPs is vital in a way that if they are careful and responsible about gender equality in their institutions, then it is expected that the whole institution will support the new ideas. It is easier to implement gender equality in the whole organization if there is support at a higher level;
  • Inter-institutional cooperation: All stakeholders involved in gender equality plans should be brought together and the knowledge already generated from their past experience to be collected and published at one place in order to benefit academia and other stakeholders interested in designing their GEPs.

Ana Rotter: “Soft grips and involvement of all employees are key to a successful action plan to promote gender equality in science”

Ana Rotter, a researcher at the National Institute of Biology at the Piran Marine Biological Station, shared with us her experiences in the work of promoting gender equality and implementing gender equality action plans. “It is somewhat unusual for the microbiologist and statistician,” she said, “to have an intense commitment to gender equality, traditionally dominated by humanists and humanists.” But that is why her experience is all the more valuable. We hosted Ana Rotter as an invited lecturer as part of an international meeting of R&I PEERS partners – Pilot Experience to Improve Gender Equality in Research Organizations .

Ana Rotter started addressing gender issues in 2011 when she received the L’Oreal and UNESCO National Program for Women in Science. It was then that she first became exposed to the media and began to notice differences between the treatment of women scientists, not only by gender, but also by geographical origin or whether they came from the so-called Eastern or Western Europe. On several occasions, she publicly spoke with her opinion and in response received that this kind of activity does not come from a scientist and is not compatible with scientific excellence. This has not stopped her, she has been involved in several different projects dealing with finding solutions to social inequalities. Rotter pointed out that the European Commission is currently supporting a number of related projects seeking a solution to gender inequality, such as Plotina, Change, Libra, Integer and Gender time. She emphasized the need for mutual cooperation and knowledge sharing between projects, and shared her experience with the fundamental difficulties in implementing action plans and trying to solve them.

“The first problem may lie in the very design of the goals of the plan,” said Ana Rotter. If, on the one hand, we can have associates who want to finish the project as soon as possible in order to get back to the “right” scientific work, on the other, they are those who have too high and unrealistic goals. The solution is found in “soft”, smaller, even more easily practicable measures, which are therefore long-term measures and remain valid after the end of the project. It is also important to establish direct accountability for the implementation of the measures, and it is not irrelevant who cares about what. If tasks are assigned to the youngest in the group, the chances of derivation are less. Institutional change requires the search for people who have a high level of authority in the institution, but one should not forget the so-called “middle management”, which is often overlooked,

However, even if the design of the project is good, it can stop at implementation. First of all, due to lack of knowledge, which is present mainly in STEM, which traditionally does not address topics such as social equality. Knowledge is gained through continuous participation in workshops, networking and exchange, as well as through the diverse composition of research teams where one person can influence others. One-off measures that are not implemented after the formal expiry of the project should also be avoided. According to Ana Rotter, the action plan needs to be constantly adjusted and new measures added.

The third challenge lies in the so-called human factor, that is, the possible resistance of employees and management, to whom gender equality projects may seem insignificant, unrelated to their work, or conditioned by current “popularity”. Believing that they have not experienced something themselves, many women and men believe that there is no inequality in the scientific sphere. Such responses are important, Rotter points out, and especially communication with those who are most skeptical. According to Ana Rotter, the solution is not to pressure colleagues or big gripes, such as gender quotas, as they automatically provoke resistance. In her view, the conversation and emphasis is much more on the point that action plans are not about the formal introduction of new rules but only about guidelines and proposals, which will have a positive impact on the work atmosphere and relationships between the employees of the institution. Even small approaches such as flexible working hours or promoting achievements on a website can help you feel better. Again, it is important to include colleagues at all levels, both women and men, researchers and administration workers, techniques and PhDs that are often overlooked. The best motivation to talk, however, was the all-human common thing: food and drink. Rotter organized an informal meeting with beer and burgers at her institution, to which most technical, male staff came. The conversation began with an invitation to the participants to present their work and why they were indispensable at their institution; only after such an introduction, in which she emphasized the importance of each member for the institution,

The final challenge is the monitoring and evaluation of action plans – in the absence of these, there are no sustainable approaches. Given the time constraints of the projects, measuring the grip should start in the middle of the project and establish an opportunity for future continuation. Data is crucial as it can prove that the institution has inequality problems. For example, if within a project we can arrange for the annual report to collect data suggesting a link between pay, employment practices, promotion and gender, then data collection may continue beyond the end of the project, says Ana Rotter. International projects also need to pay attention to cross-cultural differences. For example, there are not many housewives in Eastern Europe, mainly because of the legacy of employment policies of the socialist regimes, paid maternity leave, and an extensive childcare network. That’s why with us, Unlike Portugal, Austria or Cyprus, there is no need to promote women’s employment and there are different approaches. In doing so, Ana Rotter reiterates the importance of soft approaches, as they affect not only those currently occupying leadership positions, but future leaders who, as she hopes, will have a different consciousness.

From Spolinznanost

Diversities make the company grow

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.