The third R&I Peers Multisectoral Conference took place on 9 December 2021 with the purpose of discussing and showcasing results and good practices from Gender Equality Plans implemented within R&I Peers and other projects. The aim was to disseminate activities, practices and policies that could eventually become best practices.
Learnings from the conference include that an effective GEP should consider gender equality both in terms of an organisation’s internal processes, as well as the impact of its broader research outputs. When building and implementing a GEP there are several “building blocks” that need to be present in order to insure success. These success factors may be categorised, along with examples, as the following:
Process-based – including dedicated resources, internal monitoring, official endorsement, etc.; and
Content-based – including organizational culture, gender balance in decision making bodies, gendered research, etc.
These success factors were the basis of an exchange of good practices at the conference where the changemakers in the environment were discussed in the context of various GEP implementing bodies. To enrich and dive deeper into organisational realities, hands-on experiences were shared by stakeholders that had implemented and managed such changes internally.
The Third R&I Peers Conference was joined by science and innovation leaders, decision makers, researchers and practitioners who eagerly shared their experience on gender equality in R&I. The original event communication may be found here. Outputs and presentations from the conference may be found below, with more added as they become available.
In the context of the second R&I Peers Multisectoral Conference, participants had the opportunity to receive first-hand feedback from external project stakeholders about their experience of implementing Gender Equality Plans. One panelist, Niki Karoulla, President of Active Zone Outdoor and Physical Education Teacher in Primary Education, shared her experience of a GEP implementation at Active Zone Outdoor, a non-profit organisation she runs in Cyprus.
As a first action in their GEP implementation, Karoulla says Active Zone Outdoor–which enjoys a membership of fifteen organisations and reaches 250 young people with sporting activities in Cyprus–focused on creating gender balance in two key areas: Within the AZO board of directors, and among participants in AZO external events that focus on outdoor sports activities for youth, ages 18 to 30.
In both cases, AZO reported successes. As of 2019, their 15-member board of directors enjoys involvement by seven women, with Karoulla herself as President. Karoulla also reports that “Click and Go, ” a project promoting non-traditional sports to women, succeeded at reaching equal gender engagement across trainers, leaders, and participants. Key to this success Karoulla says, was “promoting ‘atypical’ sports to women, like mountain climbing, and also by including women leaders in mountain climbing among their training team. This latter especially “challenged important gender stereotypes in this sport,” Karoulla said.
An additional success story Karoulla shared was a program called the Youth Policy Project, which aimed to “cultivate a culture of awareness for equal gender representation in Cyprus. In dialogue among policy-makers, youth, media, coaches, trainers and athletes, Karoulla says their event succeeded in having fifty-fifty participation across the board, a genuine accomplishment.
Karoulla says that key to these successes may be that Active Zone Outdoor is an organisation “made up of young people with an open mindset” which facilitates actions to support gender equality. “Maybe also because I am female,” she adds. Looking forward, Karoulla says she hopes the experience of implementing a gender equality plan at AZO can show that other NGOs can benefit from such strategies. Critical to this she says, is that “people in charge of the organisation have to treat gender issues as impacting both male and female. It is not just an issue for women,” Karoulla says. “It is an issue for all of us.”
On 20 April 2021, the R&I Peers project hosted its Second Multisectoral Conference addressing “the impact of gender equality plans on internal and external stakeholders.” The purpose of this conference was to disseminate the results and contribution of the R&I Peers project to advancing gender equality in research and innovation in EU. The conference dove into questions about the real impact of gender equality plan (GEP) implementation, both internal and external to the GEP implementing organisation.
The following topics were discussed:
The impact of the GEP implementation on internal stakeholders
Gender Equality Plan in engaging external local, regional and national stakeholders
Most successful actions in the GEP implementation
Science and innovation leaders, decision makers, researchers and practitioners ready to collaborate, were invited to the conference to share and learn about gender equality in R&I.
Tanja Petrović, R&I PEERS team member representing partner ZRC SAZU, joined the 12-13 November 2020 international conference entitled “Gender equality in CEE countries: Policies and practices 2020; Institutional change through implementation of GEPs at RPOs and RFOs in CEE countries.” The aim of the event was to bring together promoters and implementers of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) developed in the framework of Horizon 2020 projects, along with researchers who are exploring gender issues in science in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The conference was organized by the Lithuanian Social Research Centre (LSRC) and Vilnius University, and sponsored by the Research Council of Lithuania.
On the first day of the event, Petrović presented the R&I PEERS project and the process of GEP design and implementation at ZRC SAZU. On the second day, she participated in a panel on “Removing barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of women researchers,” and discussed the ways in which the GEP adopted at ZRC SAZU addresses female researchers’ careers, excellence and prospect for career advancement. In particular, Petrović emphasized mentoring, work-life balance, and construction of excellence as three important domains that shape female researchers’ careers and define their possibilities in academia. These domains are covered in a series of strategies and actions detailed in ZRC SAZU’s GEP. Petrovič also addressed the ways these strategies have been adjusted in the monitoring phase of GEP implementation in order to better respond to researchers’ actual needs.
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.
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:
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.