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.
The Gender Equality Plan (GEP) of the University of Salerno–elaborated in the framework of R&I PEERS project, and approved by the Academic Senate and Board of Directors–is a comprehensive document offering a clear and focused strategy on gender equality for a university made up of more than 40.000 people. It is organised around six target areas whose achievement will be monitored through selected indicators:
Gender Perspective in Research and Curricula;
Improving use of gender-sensitive language;
Raising awareness of gender equality in UNISA;
Reducing gender gap in decision-making bodies.
The GEP intends to carry on the legacy of OGEPO (Interdepartmental Observatory for the Gender studies and Equal Opportunities) and the CUG (Unique guarantee committee for well-being in the workplace) that since 2011 are committed to the achievement of equality between women and men and well-being for all. Indeed, some of the GEP’s activities aim at reinforcing the already existing actions such as:
Courses on gender studies/gender equality;
Training on gender equality and diversity management for University administrative staff;
Initiatives on gender-based violence phenomenon;
Nursery and summer camp for students and workers’ children.
The GEP’s activities aim at going one step further in order to define a broader strategy including a special attention to the STEM field. Among the envisaged actions, we can mentioned
Introduction of an interdisciplinary teaching on gender equality and diversity management in all PhD courses;
Mentoring sessions for female PhD students, research fellows and researchers;
Supporting activities for financing fellowships on gender equality.
In addition, a reach programme of international conferences and workshops has been included in the GEP in order to develop a lively debate among experts around some key issues concerning women and men in research (i.e. women in STEM; gender bias in decision-making bodies; feminine leadership; gender-sensitive language), and establish scientific partnerships between the University of Salerno and European research organisations on the matter.
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
In the framework of the R&I PEERS project, a workshop for early career researchers was organized on 22 February hosting Dr. Dean Vuletic from Vienna University. Dr. Vuletic discussed the various strategies for successful applications for international scholarships as well as the opportunities for young scholars’ career advancement.
ZRC SAZU published the first issue of Gender and Science newsletter. The newsletter will be published regularly to inform the general public about various activities in the field of gender research and equal opportunities in the academic sphere and at the ZRC SAZU. The ZRC SAZU Institute of Culture and Memory Studies is currently involved in two international projects on the subject: R&I PEERS(Pilot Experiences for Improving Gender Equality in Research Organizations) and ACT(Communities of Practice for Accelerating Gender Equality and Institutional Change in Research and Innovation across Europe – Community Practices for Promoting Gender Equality and Institutional Changes in the European Scientific and Research Sphere). The two projects aim at enabling women to engage in the world of science and draw attention to inequalities.
The first issue of Gender and Sciencewas published on 11 February. The date itself also has a symbolic value: 11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and is celebrated around the world. The decision was adopted by the UN in 2015 to draw attention to the low percentage of female scientists – less than 30 percent worldwide.
With great pleasure, we introduce you to the first series of articles from the R&I PEERS project.
The goal of the R&I PEERS project is to create and validate pilot experiences that disrupt gender-biased approaches and unconscious rules which limit careers for women and their participation in Research and Innovation.
These articles comes at a crucial stage for the project, as results from the first months of work are emerging, while the ground is being laid for the next stage of the project, which will see the implementation and improvement of GEPs, in the seven (7) pilot organisation involved in the project, leading up the validation of the strategies proposed by R&I PEERS advisory board and other stakeholders.
Among these articles, you will have the opportunity to read about the results of the analysis made in the pilot organisations to obtain information on the framework variables (cultural, legislative, political, economic) which may affect the gender issues in research. This article provides an insight into the principles inspiring the GEPs definition, highlighting the importance of setting the proposal emerging into a relevant institutional environment.
The results of the first Mutual Learning workshop, held in Rome (Italy) on 7 November are detailed in the article “Mutual Learning Workshop in Rome”. This workshop has 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. This first project workshop has been appreciated by all attendees and we consider it a successful experience!
To conclude, I would like to highlight that this first article come on the heels of the international week for the Elimination of Violence against Women, celebrated 19-25 November. The aim of that international initiative is to emphasise the importance of the respect to the woman that we consider, as R&I PEERS consortium, a key point to promote a concept of gender equality that can best be expressed as “women and men enjoy the same status and have equal opportunity to realize their full human potential to contribute to political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit fully from the results”.
I hope these articles will stimulate your interest in R&I PEERS!
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