Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS


FESTA Sintesi della relazione

Project ID: 287526
Finanziato nell'ambito di: FP7-SIS
Paese: Sweden

Periodic Report Summary 1 - FESTA (Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia)

Project Context and Objectives:

FESTA is concerned with 1) implementing changes in the working environment of academic researchers, 2) encouraging female researchers in science and technology to stay and make a career in the academy and 3) removing some of the hurdles which make it more difficult for them than for their male peers to reach their professional goals. FESTA aims in particular to improve the working environment of researchers in the lower levels of their careers, to reach the goal of gender equality all the way to the highest technical and scientific expertise.

The issues addressed in the project have been chosen on the basis of their being of crucial importance, and possible to address in the existing organizations, for example in regard to resistance or financial matters.

FESTA partners are geographically diverse and coming from academic institutions of different sizes and with different backgrounds. The consortium also consists of the different competencies and experiences that are relevant in this kind of intervention: researchers in science and technology, social scientists with a solid background in research on gender in academia, persons with governing and administrative positions on high level in the institutional hierarchy and gender equality officers.

The different partner institutions of this consortium are on different levels when it comes to numerical gender equality in the researcher work force and equality measures and procedures already on place. The conceptions of gender equality in the surrounding societies also vary. Thus, the different partners have chosen different actions from our selection of core issues, which have seldom been directly addressed in previous research or implementation, in particular not on the level of the daily environment of researchers.

The aims of FESTA are:

• To raise awareness of the role gender equality issues play in the daily working environments in the different institutions, departments and units, and for the careers of female researchers, and point out ways for organizations and individuals to work with these issues
• To implement fair and transparent decision making processes on all levels – all the way from important economic decisions to those daily decisions that may seem trivial.
• To change interactional cultures, in particular in different meetings or supervisory relationships.
• To start discussions and re-evaluations of the hidden perceptions of excellence at institution and departmental levels and how they affect the decisions on what persons, research questions and activities are promoted in the environment.
• To address resistance to gender equality measures, to analyse it and to find ways to counteract it. This theme will be underlying the whole project.

The different implementation contexts allow experimentation and reflection on the transferability of the actions that show to be successful. The actions will be carefully analysed in regard to the contextual success and failure factors, to result in a variety of measures that research environments in different European contexts can use in addressing core issues in their gender equality work.

Project Results:

Most FESTA tasks consist of three phases: 1) mapping of the present situation, which is a background to the 2) actions, which will then be submitted to 3) evaluation. The tasks are phased somewhat differently in the five-year timeframe. During the first 18 months, work packages 3: awareness raising on individual and organizational level, 4: formal and informal decision-making processes and 5: perceptions of excellence in hiring and daily environment have been active, as well as WP 2: dissemination and WP 7: recording and managing resistance.

The first 18 months belong to the first phase: mapping of the present situation. In addition to doing the mapping itself, we have developed interaction routines (most often monthly Skype meetings) in the different partner constellations of each task. After losing our Lithuanian partner shortly after the project start, we have been waiting a major part of the first reporting period for our second Eastern European partner, South-Western University of Bulgaria, to be able to work with us. The amendment allowing us to include them was signed month 14.

In WPs 4 and 5 and task 3.1., a number of interviews have been performed in all partner institutions. The main purpose of the interviews has been to investigate the local context, to enable the design of purposeful targeted actions in the second phase and to provide solid contextualised material to work on in designing trans-European toolkits. For WP 5, perceptions of excellence, these interviews will also result in reports to be published during the first months on reporting period 2. Some partners will also use the data as empirical material for research publications. To guide interview questions and interview samples, different statistics have been collected at the partaking institutions.

Task 3.2., organizational awareness, is specifically concerned with statistical indicators. The partaking partners have collected different statistics at their institutions, checked their accuracy and usefulness by supplementary qualitative data and made preliminary evaluations of the value/effort ratio of these statistical indicators for awareness raising and as a basis for action plans.

As to WP 7, not much resistance has been recorded so far. However, little resistance is to be expected in this phase, where the institutional consequences mainly consist of raising the awareness of the individuals and units that have been involved, and the initiatives to change the existing gender order have not been put into action yet.

Under WP 2, several of the partners have presented FESTA in local and national newspapers. Oral presentations have been made in different contexts in the partners’ networks, mainly in higher education and research institutions. One common brochure, as well as local brochures have been created. FESTA has also been represented in two conferences, in particular at the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion conference in Athens, with three interactiveworkshops, where preliminary results of FESTA were presented, and the audience was invited to comment on the work and give new ideas and directions. Most importantly, FESTA has a frequently visited webpage for both external and internal communication.

Members of our Scientific Advisory Group have taken part in all the three PMG meetings, with valuable input regarding the direction of our work.

Potential Impact:

At our institutions, FESTA actions will promote the careers of women researchers on all levels, by reducing different organisational obstacles identified in previous studies. Ultimately this implies getting more women into institutional leadership positions as well as into the ranks of the top researchers at the institution. The actions are also designed to stop the leakage of female researchers from lower levels in the pipeline, by creating a research workplace that is more inclusive and, thus, more attractive. In addition, the actions will empower female researchers on all levels, thus making it easier for the institution to benefit from their competence and creativity.

As a result of the FESTA actions the partner institutions will reach:

a) Increasing awareness of structural factors that have different impacts on women and men
b) Increasing awareness of gender bias in research appraisal
c) Increasing awareness of the problems caused by resistance, in implementing gender equality measures

The institutions will have learnt to:

a) Take action when structural biases are detected
b) Monitor formal decision-making processes to be gender equal
c) Pay attention to and minimise gender bias in informal decision making processes
d) Improve internal communication, to diminish the impact of informal networks
e) Improve gender equality in hiring processes
f) Improve meeting culture, to ensure that all participants have equal voice
g) Improve graduate supervision, to make sure that female and male graduate students are treated equitably.

In addition, female researchers will have learnt how to navigate the institutional context for maximising their possibilities for career development and decision making.

Effects in the partner institutions are the first level of impact. On the second level, the partner institutions will be presented as best practice cases nationally, regionally and in a European perspective. In addition to formal channels of dissemination (relevant media, conferences etc), the partners’ networks of female researchers, gender equality workers, human relations administrators in the academy, higher academic officials etc will be engaged in spreading the methods used in the project.

FESTA will add value by producing operational and implementation handbooks. Common themes identified (awareness rising, gendering decision-making and communication processes, identification of hidden assumptions of excellence, meeting cultures, resistance) across partner countries will enable common actions and solutions. These common solutions will be recorded and transformed to toolkits and guidelines, from which those who are doing gender equality work can pick up a tool that corresponds to the issues they see as important in their environment and possible to address. Each of these tools will come with instructions of use, stating the tasks for which it is suitable and under which conditions, and also stating aspects to be cautious about. The contextual factors (for example different national contexts) which influence the success or failure of different measures will be analysed. An important contribution is the handbook on resistance, presenting examples and experiences of dealing with resistance in the context of gender equality work in the daily working environments in different parts of Europe.

The first reporting period has mainly had impact on the institutional level, in that the introductory work has increased the awareness of gender issues in the target group. However, more widely, the dissemination activities presenting FESTA have brought forward the fundamental but previously often neglected starting point for any structural change for improving gender equality: It is not the women but the organizational context which causes problems in gender and science issues.

List of Websites:

Informazioni correlate


Gustav Sigeman, (EU Coordinator)
Tel.: +46 70 16 79 409