Heidemarie Uhl Receives 2020 ZRC SAZU Member of Honour Award

Dr Heidemarie Uhl Receives ZRC SAZU Member of Honour Award 2020

One of the target areas of the ZRC SAZU’s Gender Equality Plan (GEP) focuses on practices to promote of female researchers’ results and achievements. Analysis of existing promotion practices at ZRC SAZU conducted in the GEP preparatory phase revealed that senior male researchers’ results are promoted more frequently than those of female researchers.

The disparity is particularly visible when it comes to awards. The analysis of award honoring practices, focusing on the past twenty years, was based on the data on winners and nominees for ZRC SAZU awards: The ZRC SAZU Gold Award, the ZRC SAZU Silver Award, the ZRC SAZU Researcher of Merit, and the ZRC SAZU Member of Honour. Currently, more female researchers than male researchers are employed at ZRC SAZU, but the data show that the majority of awards was received by male researchers, who lead in all categories. Specifically, 18 men and 9 women received the Gold Award, and 10 men and 5 women received the Silver Award. In the investigated period, not a single woman became an ZRC SAZU Member of Honour. The Member of Honour award is given to top researchers who make an important contribution to the establishment of the ZRC SAZU at home and abroad.

This trend, however, was reversed in 2020, when the ZRC SAZU Member of Honour Award was bestowed upon Dr. Heidemarie Uhl, a senior researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theater History at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and lecturer at the universities of Vienna and Graz. In her research, Dr. Uhl focuses on constructions of identity in 19th and 20th Century Central Europe, on National Socialism and the Holocaust in Austria, and on selected episodes of 19th and 20th century European cultural history.

Gender Equality Plan Case Study: University of Salerno

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;
  • Work-life balance;
  • Raising awareness of gender equality in UNISA;
  • Mentoring;
  • 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;
  • Gender budgeting;
  • 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.

Integrating the Gender Dimension in Research

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 workshop was built around the Toolkit for Integrating Gender-Sensitive Approach into Research and Teaching developed as part of the GARCIA project, and was convened by Dr. Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc, one of the Toolkit authors hailing from R&I PEERS project partner ZRC SAZU.

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’.