Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - STAGES (Structural Transformation to Achieve Gender Equality in Science)

Executive Summary:
The structural change strategy, launched by the Commission in 2011, has been a turning point in addressing the problem of gender inequality in science. On the one side, it provided an opportunity to finally leave the logic of pilot projects behind. On the other side, it favoured the development of integrated approaches to gender inequality allowing to systematically address its basic tenets.
Leveraging upon this policy turn, the STAGES project was aimed at concretely applying self-tailored Action Plans geared at introducing gender-aware management at all levels in each of the five participating organisations, i.e., the University of Milan (Italy), the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany), the Aarhus University (Denmark), the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi (Romania) and the Radboud Universiteit (the Netherlands).
Although different from each other, the Action Plans were based on a common structure, defining three strategic areas respectively pertaining to: the promotion of a friendly environment for women; the development of gender-aware science; the promotion of women’s leadership in science.
The Action Plans overall allowed to activate relevant transformation processes in different areas. They included, e.g.: establishment of new centres or networks aimed at promoting gender equality; new practices to integrate gender in the content and methods of research and education; measures and rules favouring women’s career and their access to leadership positions; procedures to periodically collect data on gender equality in the organisation; tools for the exchange of good practices; practices to promote women’s visibility; new criteria for monitoring and assessing women’s advancements; training initiatives on gender equality addressing leaders.
In all the participating organisations, a sustainability plan for ensuring the continuation of the actions initiated under STAGES after the project lifespan has been developed. In many cases, the negotiations between the Teams and the leaders of the organisations led to the integration of many of them in the current practice of the research organisations. In other cases, the Action Plans directly inspired the gender equality and diversity plans adopted by the research organisation. The Teams have been often involved as experts in the development of new strategies and measures at the organisation and national level.
Through a mutual learning process among the partners, the project also promoted a deeper understanding of the dynamics surrounding structural change efforts by constantly analysing, monitoring and assessing the process activated in each institution. This led to the development of a set of Guidelines exclusively based on tools and approaches tested by the partners on how to promote structural transformations in research organisations. The Guidelines have been produced with the aim of spreading, among European universities and research institutes, successful practices and negotiation strategies favouring structural transformations.
The guidelines focused on seven main areas, i.e.: collecting data and monitoring gender equality; engaging leadership; policy-making and institutionalisation; networking and empowering women to take action; integrating gender in education and research; communication and visibility.
In addition to the Guidelines, also in-depth analysis of the transformation dynamics activated by the Action Plans have been also carried out.
The STAGES project lasted 48 months (January 2012 – December 2014) and was co-financed by the Italian Government.

Project Context and Objectives:
The structural change strategy, launched by the Commission in 2011, has been a turning point in addressing the problem of gender inequality in science. On the one side, it provided an opportunity to finally leave the logic of pilot projects behind. On the other side, it favoured the development of integrated approaches to gender inequality allowing to systematically address its basic tenets.
This is the context where STAGES is to be placed. In fact, the project was designed with the general aim of making the most of the opportunities provided by this policy turn. In particular, the STAGES concept was in strong agreement with the approach adopted by the European Commission, in the framework of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, launching the topic SiS.2011.2.1.1-1 “Implementing structural change in research organisations/universities”. The project has been co-financed by the Italian Government, through the Inspector General for the financial relations with the European Union of the Italian Ministry for Finance and Treasure – IGRUE.
STAGES pursued three main objectives.
The first and main objective was that of concretely applying different self-tailored action plans geared at introducing gender-aware management at all levels in the five participating organisations, i.e., the University of Milan (Italy), the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany), the Aarhus University (Denmark), the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi (Romania) and the Radboud Universiteit (the Netherlands).
A second objective was that of producing a deeper understanding of the dynamics surrounding structural change efforts by constantly analysing, monitoring and assessing the process activated in each institution, so to start mutual learning practices among partners.
The third objective was that of launching a very practical type of dissemination, not just aimed at informing on programmes activated and their results, but at spreading, among European universities and research institutes, successful practices and negotiation strategies to make structural transformations to occur.
In order to achieve its goals, the project several interconnected activities have been designed and implemented.
The drafting of the Action Plans was carried out prior to the presentation of the proposal for financing. The Action Plans were designed using a common theoretical and methodological framework defining three strategic areas respectively pertaining to: the promotion of a friendly environment for women; the development of gender-aware science; the promotion of women’s leadership in science. This common framework was used as a tool for both building a comparable and communicable perspective to share and make the most of the different experiences, and for the effective tailoring of the design to the concrete reality and needs of each partner. The implementation process lasted four years and was conducted according to a common roadmap. A sustainability plan has been also defined for each Action Plan so as to ensure the continuation of the Actions after the STAGES project lifespan.
A continuous technical assistance activity to the Teams engaged with the Action Plans has been provided. This activity was oriented at steering and continuously adjusting the Action Plan to changing conditions as well as at coordinating and promoting mutual learning processes among all the partners. The Technical assistance included different kinds of activities, e.g.: the set up and management of an intranet to share materials and products among the partners of the consortium, as well as to manage internal discussion and exchange; the organisation of bilateral monitoring sessions; the organisation of working sessions on common issues and emerging problems, with the production and dissemination of handouts and guidance documents on specific issues; the organisation of regular on-site visits. All activities have been conducted both in presence and at a distance. In the framework of the technical assistance, different mutual learning activities have been conducted in order to favour an exchange of practices and experiences among the partners. Moreover, a feasibility study on the sustainability of the STAGES Action Plans has been proposed, aimed at favouring the preparation of the sustainability plans of the actions included in each Action Plan (see 1.1., above).
An evaluation service has been provided, including four in-rogress evaluation exercises and a final evaluation. For each exercise, an evaluation report has been delivered. The evaluation process was based on an evaluation model including five dimensions: effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability, and relevance. For each dimension, a set of indicators have been applied. To carry out the evaluation process, specific technical instruments (questionnaires and grids) have been developed on the basis of data and information resulting from technical assistance and monitoring.
Leveraging upon the information collected through both the technical assistance and the evaluation process, an accompanying research has been conducted all over the project implementation period. Such a research was geared to coordinate and interpret the whole information set which was being collected on what was going on in the participating institutions, so to lay the ground for the drafting of Guidelines (see point 1.5., below).
Directly deriving from the structural change experience, the Guidelines addressed the “how-to” dimension with respect to the activation of the change process, so as to favour acceptance and assure long-run sustainability for the actions implemented through gender equality plans in research institutions. The Guidelines – developed through a mutual learning process and experience exchange among the participating organisations – have been produced with the aim of spreading, among European universities and research institutes, successful practices and negotiation strategies favouring structural transformations.
During project implementation, a set of networking, dissemination and public communication activities have been carried out. Such activities have been carried out both at the project level and at the level of the participating organisations. At the project level, these activities were aimed at regularly spreading information about the STAGES project, establishing forms of exchange with other EC-funded structural change projects and spreading the Guidelines. To these ends, a project website has been created, where the main project products have been uploaded. A project newsletter has been regularly produced and disseminated. A mid-term and a final conference of the STAGES project have been organised. At the level of single participating organisations, networking, dissemination and public communication activities were aimed at increasing the internal and external visibility of the Action Plans and starting a dialogue with local and national social partners (relevant governmental agencies, local authorities, women’s networks and associations, etc.) to involve them in the change process. Each team created one specific website or webpage regularly spreading information on the Action Plan.
General management activities have included technical and administrative coordination, financial management, intellectual property management, relations with the European Commission and ongoing and final evaluation of the project as a whole. In order to enhance the substantive aspects of the project, an International Board of Advisors has been established, with the participation of experts in gender and science and leading scientists from different disciplinary fields. The Board was composed of: Judy Wajcman (Director of the Department of Sociology in the London School of Economics, UK); Alice Hogan (independent consultant advising and founding Programme Director of the National Science Foundation's ADVANCE program, USA); Maria Rimini-Döring (Senior Expert in Human-Machine Interaction at Corporate Research and Advance Engineering of Robert Bosch GmbH, Germany); Chiara Tonelli (Full Professor of Genetics at the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences at the University of Milan, Italy); Adrian Iftene (Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Computer Science at the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, Romania) ; Letty A. de Weger (senior Researcher at the Department of Pulmonology at Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands); Inge Henningsen (Senior Researcher at Aarhus University, Denmark). Each participating organisation has also established a National Committee with the aim of getting advice and support for the implementation of each Action Plan.

The Università degli Studi di Milano is a public teaching and research university marked by a wide variety in terms of disciplinary offer. With 8 faculties, 32 departments and 64.000 students, it is one of the largest universities in Italy and a leading institute in Italy and Europe for scientific productivity.
The Action Plan targeted mainly two faculties – the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Science and the Faculty of Medicine. The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences showed interesting patterns in terms of horizontal segregation with some departments where women numbered half the full and associate professors, and others having no female full professor. The Faculty of Medicine is the biggest and, historically, the first UMIL faculty. It has a very complex and articulated internal organisation with large numbers of women. Vertical segregation, however, represented a persistent and crucial problem. At the time when the Action Plan was drafted, 67% of the post-doctoral students and almost half of the researchers were women vs. less of 15% of women who were full professors.
The Action Plan was drafted following this process of analysis and stocktaking. It had the twofold aim of promoting gender equality in career paths and “gendering” the contents and the methods of scientific research at the same time. Actions focused on both careers and “genderisation” of research were thus implemented in the two targeted faculties with some actions addressing the entire university.
Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation. Founded in 1949, at present Fraunhofer maintains 67 institutes and research units. The majority of the more than 23,000 staff are qualified scientists and engineers, who work with an annual research budget of 2 billion euros. In 2012, the proportion of female researchers without leadership responsibility was under 21%. The STAGES project team was part of the Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation (IAO), based in Stuttgart.
Early in 2003, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft stated its support for the application of the principles of “gender mainstreaming” and equal opportunities standards and committed itself to increasing the involvement of women in the domain of science and their access to executive positions. In accordance with its decentralised structure, Equal Opportunities officers (BfCs) have been established at each of the institutes, who cooperate with an Equal Opportunities commissioner (GB) and the central Human Resources Development Department. But there was no systematic overview and assessment of the activities in the various Fraunhofer institutes and no systematic exchange about good or successful initiatives.
This is why an internal market for gender diversity in science and innovation was built within the STAGES project. Given the decentralised structure, it was important to establish good relations to the BfCs in the institutes and the Equal Opportunities commissioner (GB) who coordinates all the BfCs. To be able to initiate activities on a higher level, cooperation with the central Human Resources Development Department was finally necessary.
Founded in 1928, Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-oriented institution that strives to be internationally competitive within the areas of research, education, talent development and knowledge exchange. With an enrolment of 44,500 students and 11,500 employees (4,000 researchers) and a turnover of 6,2 billion DKK, AU is the 2nd largest university in Denmark. Previous to the implementation of the STAGES project, women comprised merely 14.2% of the full professors and 31.5% of the associate professors. Since, the late 2000s, Aarhus University has undergone a far-reaching transformation process restructuring its entire organisation, which has been considered by the STAGES team as an excellent opportunity to put the issue of gender equality on the agenda and make it one of the key elements of structural change.
In this framework, the Action Plan involved a set of integrated activities, targeting the entire university and all faculties, geared at achieving sustainable results in key strategic areas – i.e. to create more women-friendly environments, promote gender-aware science and women´s leadership of science – with specifically tailored gender equality actions.
The “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi (UAIC) is the oldest higher education institution in Romania. Founded in 1860, nowadays, with 25,000 students and 1,900 academics, researchers and administrative staff, the university enjoys high prestige at national and international level and cooperates with 286 universities world-wide.
The Project STAGES was consonant with the UAIC’s objective to develop international cooperation with other universities in domains of common interest as, in this case, promoting gender equality in science through structural transformations within organisations. The UAIC’s self-tailored Action Plan (AP) targeted 9 out of 15 faculties (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography & Geology, Mathematics, Computer science, Economics, Social sciences and Letters), but its outcomes extended to the whole university. It was designed, from its inception, to develop a participatory strategy, so as to integrate different categories of stakeholders/ beneficiaries: academics, researchers, managers as well as PhD, MA and BA students. More than 40 actions (many with 3-4 annual editions), carried out by 130 organisers and contributors, were attended by over 1,500 beneficiaries. The AP foresaw also partnerships and cooperation with the national agencies responsible for higher education evaluation and research funding and the Ministry of Education and Research, thus ensuring the possibility to generate a positive impact at national level.
Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, is a student-oriented research university with fourteen research institutes. The university has more than 2,900 FTE academic staff members and 19,000 students in 2015. With 22% female full professors in 2015, RU has the largest share of female full professors of all Dutch universities, although this is still a low proportion from an international comparative perspective.
The tailor-made Action Plan for the STAGES project at RU was directed at two research institutes, namely the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (DI) and the Institute for Management Research (IMR). The DI is a highly acknowledged research institute with only 10% female full professors in 2011. In 2011, the DI had been evaluated by an external research visitation committee as having a dominant masculine culture, not supportive for both research results and the female faculty. The IMR is situated in a School of Management with a strong teaching reputation, and had 22.2% female full professors in 2011. The IMR has a large gender and diversity research group, consisting of 25 researchers in the field of gender and power in politics and management.
The design of the Action Plan was adapted to the specific context of the organisation. In the design of the list of actions at RU, a combination was made of interventions that fall within the strategies areas of creating women-friendly environments (mentoring programme, women’s network and work life policies), gender aware science (gendering the content of master and PhD courses, gender awareness training of the leadership) and women’s leadership in science (scrutinising gender target figures, improving visibility of women scientists and gender research).

Project Results:
In the following sections, the main results deriving from the five Action Plans will be shortly described. Then, a brief presentation of the results coming from the other cross-cutting activities included in the Project will be recalled.
The general idea behind the STAGES Action Plan at UMIL was triggering and sustaining structural change by progressively sensitising and mobilising different actors through tailored, multi-level and inter-related interventions. The type and timing of implementation, in this vein, have been carefully planned so that the output of an action could serve to foster the implementation of other actions. This “symphonic approach” to implementation has allowed the team to single out different strategies at different times and in diverse realms.
During the first year, for instance, whilst also starting activating an action targeting students – the Course “Equal Opportunities and Scientific Careers” –, which was then replicated for the 4 years of the project, a top-down strategy was preferred. The organisation of the STAGES Launch Conference and of two Crash Courses on the Impact of Gender Stereotypes in Science targeting the top management of the entire university and, in particular, of the Faculties of Medicine and of Agricultural and Food Sciences, indeed, contributed to increasing project visibility, sensitising and involving the top management in the project’s activities and creating a favourable environment for the implementation of subsequent actions. In this phase, particular attention was devoted to the type of communication for the contents of the project, the aim being to convey STAGES objectives and activities in a clear and resonant manner. In this regard, the constant presentation of data and literature, the link between gender equality and the promotion of excellence and talents, the invitation of prominent scholars in the field during courses and public events, were all discursive and organisational devices used to promote the Project and, at the same time, to prevent and/or overcome possible resistances to initiatives fostering gender equality in science.
Starting from the second year, further dynamics were activated. In planning two important actions addressing early careers researchers and PhD students and post-doctoral students (the School of European Projects Drafting and Management and the School for International Publishing), the team used both a bottom-up strategy and what could be termed an inclusive strategy. As to the first, at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, a Network of Female Researchers was created. One aim of the Network was to foster the participation of members in the planning for the Schools so that the contents and logistics of such actions could be effectively tailored to their actual needs. A “reversal practice” was thus used, as the contents and aims were singled out by women and on the basis of women’s preferences, while the Schools were also open to men. In defining the programme for the Schools, moreover, the team contacted and cooperated with different UMIL Offices and, in the case of certain classes involving keynote speakers from European institutions, jointly organised them with the Research Office as open events addressing the entire university. This inclusive strategy allowed the team to increase project visibility, to activate collaborations with UMIL units and, at the same time, to involve a wider spectrum of beneficiaries.
Besides top-down and bottom-up strategies, a “lateral” strategy based on the activation of important partnerships outside UMIL was also pursued. Once the implementation of most actions had been started and the Project had gained growing legitimation, some initiatives, for instance in the field of gender medicine, were organised together with relevant actors, such as the Health Department of Lombardia Region. The positive collaboration experience with the Region eventually led to a more stable partnership and the organisation of further events in the framework of EXPO and at the Regional level. The lateral strategy, used also with other partners such as Women for EXPO, has had a consolidating effect on the visibility and relevance of the Project, whilst also contributing to an increase in the projects’ dissemination capacities.
The implementation of the STAGES Action Plan at UMIL has proven successful in many ways and has led to significant results in different areas of intervention. First, the above mentioned interrelated, simultaneous and multi-level implementation of different actions has significantly raised attention on the general topic of gender equality in science. The constant presentation of data regarding universities and research institutes at the European, Italian and local level has strongly contributed to the spread of awareness among the top management as well as professors, researchers and students of the very existence of a problem and of its negative impact on the entire organisation and on society in general.
These changes have coupled with the progressive involvement of a growing number of actors in the activities of the project leading, in the case of actions such as the courses on Gender Medicine for students in the Faculty of Medicine, to stable collaborations also in the sustainability phase. Precisely in the field of gender medicine many significant results have been achieved. The courses for students, which were not included in the original Action Plan, were added as of the second year through a pilot course at the Policlinico Hospital Unit, hosting a Single Cycle Degree in Medicine. Given the interest raised, the course has then been replicated at the Policlinico Hospital and in two further Hospital Units hosting a Single Cycle Degree, the San Paolo and the Sacco Hospitals. The number of students attending the courses constantly increased during the third and fourth year of the project, whilst, at the same, a growing number of professors and researchers involved as teachers in the courses have included a gender medicine perspective in their own courses. Many of them have shown interest in the topic and participated to other initiatives organised in the framework of STAGES, such as the Workshops on Gender Medicine.
The STAGES Project has shown a capacity for innovation not only in the field of gender medicine, but also with regard to research and interventions on women’s careers. The Action Plan, indeed, included a research on career paths in the medical profession from a gender perspective. The four-year study that was carried out in five Hospitals, both public and private, allowed the team to gather data in a relatively unexplored field of research and to shed light into the specific and less visible mechanisms leading to unequal career outcomes between men and women doctors in academia and health organisations. The results of the research have raised interest among stakeholders to the extent that additional Crash Courses to the top management of single Hospital Units have been planned during the Sustainability Phase. As to the field of internationalisation of research and access to European funding, the activities of the project have synergistically accompanied a more general turn at UMIL, whose governance has recently activated several internal strategies to sustain applications to European funding and improve the organisation as host institution. The growing awareness of the importance of gender equality in science and of the gender perspective in the contents and methods of scientific research is significantly leading the organisation to take into account these dimensions, too, in developing such strategies.
In this regard, the creation, in January 2015, of the new Centre for Coordinated Research GENDERS – Gender & Equality in Research and Science can also, to a great extent, be considered an important result of the implementation of the STAGES Action Plan as well as a key element for sustaining actions after the end of the implementation phase. The Centre was created on the occasion of the renewal of the Interdepartmental Centres at UMIL linked to the general reorganisation process activated in 2011 following the Reform of Italian universities (L. 240/2010). The new Centre GENDERS, as compared to the previous Centre for Women and Gender Differences, has a more explicit focus on gender in science and is marked by the official inclusion of departments of the faculties targeted by the STAGES project, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. This new organisational arrangement has several advantages. It allows the team to provide constant cooperation with the departments already officially involved in the sustainability phase. It will provide the possibility of including further UMIL departments of the STEM area in the Centre. Outside the university, the new profile will provide more tailored and effective communication on topics related to gender and science. Finally, the Centre could become a point of reference in the more general field of RRI – Responsible Research & Innovation.
To conclude, the STAGES Action Plan at UMIL, on the one hand, has triggered important and innovative transformations by highlighting “gendered” dynamics in career paths, sensistising the top management, mobilising early career researchers and promoting the genderisation of curricula and of scientific research. On the other hand, STAGES has accompanied and supported institutional changes that over the years are creating an increasingly favourable environment for structural change. During the first STAGES year, for instance, important institutional changes regarding the composition of the UMIL governance have occurred. Following the 2011 Reform of Italian universities, in the new Statute regulating the composition of the main UMIL governance bodies, a quota measure has been included. According to the new provision, among the 8 appointed members of the Board of Directors each gender must be represented by at least 3 members. For the first time in UMIL history, moreover, two out of the four Delegated Prorectors are female (the Prorector for Research and the Prorector for Internationalisation). During the sustainability phase (2015-2019) the team will thus work to consolidate, broaden and disseminate the results obtained so far as well as to monitor emerging areas of intervention.

The first idea to get in contact with the BfCs and to motivate them to establish deeper relations with each other was to organise a monthly BfC group meeting for the BfCs located at the different institutes in Stuttgart (where also IAO is located). This concept should then later be transferred to other locations. But in the meanwhile, the BfCs organised themselves into “regional groups”: BfCs from several locations (for example in the south-west of Germany, or in the north) founded groups. As the distances between their single locations were still too far to meet once a month, they just met about twice a year.
The project team searched for another way to support exchange among the BfCs and, together with the Equal Opportunities commissioner (GB), devised the idea of the BfC Report (see section on main results). Another instrument to inform the institutes about successful activities in other institutes is the Toolbox (see section on main results). As these two instruments do not involve personal contact but only indirect contact via texts (like the examples in the online Toolbox or the BfC Report), an exchange workshop for BfC was organised. In this workshop they had the opportunity to meet face to face in a small group and to talk about their experiences on a concrete topic (in the first workshop, the topic was the implementation of different childcare facilities). This workshop was important to strengthen personal contact among BfCs.
One of the main results of the Fraunhofer Action Plan is the development of the Toolbox. The Toolbox is a collection of good practice examples. All examples are described in a short text and are structured in the same way:
- Name of the example;
- Aims of the example;
- Description of the example;
- Procedure of implementation;
- Formal requirements;
- Success factors and obstacles.
The examples are illustrated by photos if available. The examples are categorised in six categories:
- Gender-aware organisational culture;
- Work-life balance;
- Career support for women;
- Recruiting young talent;
- Gender-aware research;
- Visibility of women in science.
In order to collect the good examples, a form with the above-mentioned structure was sent several times to the Equal Opportunity officers (BfCs) in the institutes. All the examples are published on the Fraunhofer STAGES website in a member’s area, the Toolbox. This area is visible for registered persons. Apart from Fraunhofer staff, anyone from other research organisations or companies who are interested can also register. So far, the toolbox contains 46 examples.
Another main result and highlight of the Fraunhofer Action Plan is the development of the “BfC Report” (BfC is an acronym for „Beauftragte für Chancengleichheit“ referring to the Equal opportunities officers in each institute). The report became a sustainable instrument. It contains data and information about the share of women in different wage groups and leadership levels and about the use of different measures for equal opportunities. With this Report, the institutes can compare their situation with other institutes and monitor developments in their own institute over the years.
The topics in the Report are the following:
- Details of the Fraunhofer institute;
- Participation of women at the institute;
- Information on the position and work environment at the Institute relating to the BfC;
- Highlights at the institute in the field of equal opportunities;
- Support programs, career development programs, support of young talents;
- Measures for work-life balance at the institute;
- Other measures for supporting females employees;
- The BfC’s opinion considering the equal opportunities at their institute;
- Further support for the BfC;
- Praise and criticism of the process of the report.
The data collection for first BfC Report (pilot) was collected in 2013. The data was collected via an online questionnaire which was filled in by the BfC’s. The questionnaire was developed by the Fraunhofer STAGES team and the central BfC. In the end, each BfC had their own data. In addition, the Fraunhofer STAGES team created a general report by analysing the data from all institutes. The results were presented at the annual BfC meeting in November 2013.
For the second and third report, the process was slightly adapted. Now, a part of the data is delivered by the headquarters. This reduces the effort for the BfC’s. The central BfC is very keen on continuing the reports. As she gets a budget, she can charge a small team of Fraunhofer researchers to do the general analysis and to produce the general report.

In view of the STAGES team´s initial difficulties (due to the restructuring process involving AU as a whole) in gaining greater attention to the gender equality issue and committing the leadership and research staff to structural changes, the strategy adopted was threefold, i.e. a top-down approach, a bottom-up approach, while cross-cutting activities were initiated concurrently. The three approaches feed into each other, in a dynamic process reinforcing their impact and producing constitutive effects. As a result of the strategy, actions were re-designed during the process to include emerging gender equality aspects relevant to the project.
The primary aim of the top-down, evidence-based approach has been to raise awareness of GE challenges among external stakeholders at the national level, in a Danish context where the universalistic idea of gender-neutral meritocracy is robust. Such stakeholders include the political system, key national agencies, other policy makers and experts as well as the public in general. This strategy, which involved an intensive presence of the STAGES team in national and local media, the organisation of workshops and seminars, and extensive participation in different GE arrangements, proved very effective, entailing “snowball effects” influencing the state of affairs at both the national level5 and at AU. This first segment of the top-down approach aimed at a wider mobilisation of all the national stakeholders, through an effective awareness-raising campaign placing GE high on the public and policy agenda, thus increasing the external pressure on AU to adopt a more proactive structural transformation strategy. The second segment of the top-down approach involved the intensified efforts of the team internally, i.e. to commit the stakeholders at AU, in particular the university leadership, to engage in sustainable structural gender change. This objective required an active involvement of leadership at all levels, supporting and advising the HR Department, the Diversity Committee and the Committee for Research and External Cooperation to ensure long-lasting and sustainable structural change efforts.
The objective of the bottom-up approach has been to reach out, mobilise and support female researchers, in particular through the organisation of empowerment initiatives for younger female researchers. Efforts, targeting both external and internal stakeholders, were obviously adapted to the features of the organisation, comprising the establishment of a GE resource centre, raising awareness, supporting and advising informal female networks and mentoring programmes, training young researchers, etc.
Simultaneously, a cross-cutting strategy was endorsed, based on a dynamic and integrated process bringing together the top-down and bottom-up approaches and mutually reinforcing them to become more effective. Central in the process has been the adaptation of a “small steps” pursuit, successively achieving legitimacy and visibility (locally and nationally), linking GE to “accepted” issues and expanding the “justice” argument, framing GE issues in terms of innovation, internationalisation and competitiveness. Another key instrument has been to challenge the concept of excellence and the idea of the “gender blind” university, pointing out the limits to meritocracy.
In conclusion, the overall aim of the evidence-based STAGES strategy has been to increase the internal and external pressure on AU, thus prompting a more systematised and structurally oriented GE policy. The most recent developments illustrate the dynamic nature of AU’s GE policy process, which has proven to be highly contingent on the prioritisation and pace of decision-making at the leadership level, in a highly hierarchical organisation. The strategy’s objective of increasing the external pressure by rendering the university publicly accountable for the local GE challenges, in other words, represents an innovative attempt to influence and form the final decision-making in an otherwise closed top-down policy process. The figure below illustrates the dynamic model for engaging the AU organisation in GE structural transformation employed by the STAGES team.
The STAGES project team has played a crucial role in engaging the entire organisation of AU in structural change processes, formulating strategies and building effective actions, mobilising change-oriented agencies (such as female networks) and acquiring internal and external visibility that have supported implementations. In 2013, the team decided that the best possible strategy for committing the leadership and the organisation to a more structurally oriented approach was to develop a policy paper explicitly specifying the prevailing challenges to the advancement of women academics, and how to address them, making the management externally accountable for the persisting gender inequalities.
The objective was to influence and form the university’s development of a new long-term GE policy, committing the de-centralised levels to take concrete actions creating clear structures of responsibility, thus securing continuous commitment and sustainable results. The timing of the policy paper, which was sent to the university leadership, the Diversity Committee, the Committee for Research and External Cooperation and the National Task Force on “More Women in Research” was strategically most advantageous.
The collaboration between the AU bodies and the STAGES team resulted in a gender eqality action plan comprising a number of ambitious initiatives addressing structural barriers and specifying organisational structures of responsibility for each action task. The new strategic plan, which is based on the STAGES policy paper and credits the team as being one of its main contributors, comprises the following actions for structural change:
• Committing the four faculties to develop de-centralised GE action plans and initiate systematic annual reports following up on the activities taken at centralised and de-centralised levels;
• Formulating research vacancies appealing to both male and female applicants;
• Assessing the actual time for research (i.e. focusing on actual productivity relative to available time, rather than aggregate measures of past performance, accounting for maternity leave periods);
• Developing broader assessment criteria and emphasising the importance of focusing on future potential rather than past performance in recruitment guidelines;
• Creating more transparent and clearly defined qualification criteria to avoid pre-selection of candidates for research positions;
• Establishing career planning/counselling for young(er) researchers and allocating a supervisor for all postdocs/assistant professors to ensure integration in the local research environments;
• Increased focus on the gender balance among receivers of AU’s local research grants;
• Creating more attractive and gender inclusive work environments via continuing professional development of all leaders in the organisation, and including gender diversity management as an integrated part of the university’s education of managers, research leaders and PhD coordinators;
• Obtaining a more equal gender balance in decision-making bodies;
• Achieving equal representation in assessment and appointment committees;
• Establishing de-centralised diversity committees (at faculty and department level);
• Establishing an annual Gender Equality Price;
• Establishing a financial support programme to cover additional expenses (i.e. family expenses) related to research stays abroad;
• Creating more flexible requirements concerning international mobility as a qualification criteria;
• Ensuring ongoing monitoring and communication of key targets and statistics; Evaluating developments at faculty and university level;
• Evaluating the implementation and impact of the new Gender Equality Action Plan.

As a result of the threefold approach adopted by the STAGES team, the outcomes obtained have reached beyond AU, and have impacted nation-wide and most likely international developments. Based on the work carried out within the frame of the STAGES project at Aarhus University, Mathias W. Nielsen very recently published an article in Nature on the limits of meritocracy and of making academic job advertisement fair to all as too many university posts are given to men without proper competition. In addition, as mentioned, the team has made a particular effort to revitalise GE in science as a pertinent topic in the Danish public debate, by continuously writing newspaper, journal and science-webzine articles, and participating in interviews published in nation-wide newspapers, webzines and broadcasted national media. This effort has been highly rewarding, and the STAGES team is now acknowledged as one of the main experts in structural change, both locally and nationally. The team has also impacted national policy developments, in particular as to the recommendation report of the National Task Force on “More Women in Research”, published in May 2015, which credits the STAGES policy paper as one of its main sources of inspiration.

The Strategy guiding the implementation was mainly based on our own research and direct experience of gender equality in our university, which highlighted that performing real organisational change presupposes creating new structures and initiating new practices as well as a permanent reflection on this process. With reference to the project’s objectives, we synthesised our practical experience and reflection on practice in a new model of structural changes to achieve gender equality in science, called FIXING THE TRANSFORMATIVE AND FORMATIVE PRAXIS. The FTFP is a complex, multi-layered model of participatory strategy based on a systemic approach focusing on:
• ACTION: transformative gender practices involving the whole organisation as a community of practice;
• RESEARCH: gender knowledge produced by Participatory Action Research and learning through reflective practice;
• COMMUNICATION: performative communication praxis that challenges reproductive gender practices;
• INNOVATION: creating new organisational structures and practices (Transformative Praxis) and, through this process, developing competences for knowing and acting to promote gender equality in science (Formative Praxis).
Briefly, the basic assumption of this orientation is a two-fold process: involving the whole academic and research community in the transformative practices and, in this way, by mutual learning and organisational learning, developing a proactive attitude towards gender equality in science.
According to our strategy, the actions were differentiated by objectives and concerned areas:
1 Actions for setting up new organisational structures able to promote GES on the institutional agenda
2 Action research for gender analysis, data collecting, and monitoring gender dynamics
3 Actions for gender awareness-rising and increasing visibility of women researchers
4 Action programmes for improving women’s representation on boards
5 Actions connecting GES to the UAIC’s institutional strategies and programmes
6 Actions for fostering gender approaches in research and education
7 Actions for international networking with professional communities engaged in promoting GES
8 Actions for sustainability/development of the UAIC’s GES programmes
It is worth mentioning that this new model is built on the “cooperation paradigm”, which presupposes stakeholder agreement of the on common targets and collaborative relations between the change agents, thus replacing the “conflict paradigm” which is prevalent in the old models for GE programmes. Based on the “cooperation paradigm” for structural change in organisations we pursued to actively engage in the transformative and formative praxis both representatives of the management and organisational units such as: HR Department, Doctoral schools, Projects Management, research and academic departments. We also developed partnerships with national authorities responsible for research and education (MEN, ARACIS, UEFISCDI) for activities carried out at national level and for extending and multiplying the UAIC’s experience and good practices to other Romanian universities. Externally, collaborative relations were built with European institutions and gender experts from ERC, LERU, CNRS France, EIGE, EPWS, Yellow Window, TUWien, ITC-ILO, Gender Summit, who contributed to our actions.
Considering the results with respect to the project’s purpose of making organisational changes to achieve gender equality in science, the real relevant transformations initiated and produced at UAIC consist in: 1) setting up new institutional structures; and 2) initiating new organisational practices. The new institutional structures represent the main transformational agencies created and sustained for promoting gender equality actions that gradually became patterns for new organisational practices. Their effects resulted in increasing gender awareness, introducing gender challenges on the institutional agenda, advancing gender equality programmes, which progressively determined structural change in the organisation.
The NEW INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURES and their functions are:
• The UAIC’s Centre for Gender Equality in Science, the first centre for coordinating research, monitoring and documentation on gender equal opportunities in academia and research set up in a Romanian university, similar to the existent Gender Equality Centres from prestigious universities worldwide. After its institutionalisation through the decision of the Rectors’ Board and the UAIC’s Senate, and its inclusion in the official organisation chart (2013), the Centre was charged to elaborate GE programmes according to the European policies, national laws and the provisions of the UAIC’s Charter on the university’s mission, objectives and responsibilities as well as to give periodic reports on dynamics of GES (;
• The UAIC Network of Women in Academia and Research, the first institutionalised association including women and men academics and researchers who are interested in promoting organisational development in order to implement practices and programmes for improving GE at UAIC (, orkobjectives). The Network organised more than 60 activities and events within the STAGES framework and, by arousing interest and attractiveness, continuously enlarged its composition (counting now 92 members, both women and men, senior and young researchers, managers and staff from different faculties). Consequently, it has gradually become a principal change agent for fostering GES programmes (;
• The UAIC Research Group on Gender Studies, a multidisciplinary research team, composed of researchers with gender expertise from previous national and international projects as well as young researchers, tasked to conduct studies and evaluation on GES in Romanian institutions, particularly at UAIC ( By adopting the methodology of participative action research, the group also aimed to involve the beneficiaries in collecting data, framing issues and interpreting the results, thus being oriented by the formative role of gender research;
• The UAIC-STAGES Communication Team, including specialists in communication sciences geared towards elaborating and implementing a multimedia communication strategy to increase the public visibility of the scientific performances of women researchers and to publicise and disseminate gender equality actions promoted at UAIC. ( As a special communication tool the team built a dedicated website ( targeted both internally – for the UAIC’s Network members – and externally – for any interested reader from Romania and abroad. The website presents over 160 activities achieved during the project, in 250 informative articles (news, interviews, documents) and 1,000 photos and videos, and got a large audience with over 14,800 visitors.
The NEW ORGANISATIONAL PRACTICES, specified through concrete achievements, include:
• Practices of gender analysis and data collecting. These practices are constituted in the process of deepening knowledge and investigation on structural gender inequalities at UAIC. They emerged from research-based actions as: Documenting and evaluating both qualitatively and quantitatively equal opportunities; Developing gender-disaggregated statistics and gender-sensitive indicators, and other longitudinal studies. By extending perspectives, research referred at the national level, by mapping gender equality in research policies and programmes (as in the National evaluation study on women’s participation in funded research), and integrated, as well, a European perspective, by studying Development of national standards for GE in funded research based on a comparative analysis between RO and EU countries. These gender analysis practices, representing a novelty at UAIC, were carried out by the Research Group on Gender studies, and their results were largely disseminated within workshops, trainings, courses, and publications.
• Practices of monitoring GE dynamics, evaluation of activities and programmes, and periodic reporting. Such practices also emerged from research-based actions (such as Creating a systematic Gender Equal Opportunities Database in accordance with the EC indicators; Drafting guidelines for policies; Documenting the provisions on GE in the UAIC’s Charter), but their finality was to monitor the dynamics of gender equality and to evaluate GES activities and programmes. In this process, permanent evaluation and self-evaluation, based on the appreciative inquiry methodology, were conceived as intrinsic dimensions of the structural changes strategy. The GE monitoring practices were also completed with the practice of regular reporting to the management boards. After its institutionalisation (2013), the new UAIC Centre was officially charged to monitor, evaluate and give periodic reports on gender equal opportunities.
• Practices of gender problematisation by introducing gender issues and challenges on the institutional agenda. By organising public events as workshops, trainings, courses or conferences on gender topics, such problematising-based practices promoted GES as a relevant theme on the institutional agenda, thus entailing the increase of gender awareness, enlarging participation of the stakeholders and mobilising them as change agents. Consequently, we organised: Annual thematic workshops of the UAIC’s Network of Women on GE strategies; Periodic training modules for university’s employees and managers; Special sections on Gendered Innovation and Research within International and national scientific events hosted at UAIC; International conferences on Gender Equality Management (
• Practices to increase women’s visibility, voice and recognition. Being aware that public communication is essential for increasing visibility and to stimulate acknowledgement of outstanding women researchers, several communication-based practices with large participation and enthusiastic feedback from beneficiaries were initiated and organised: The annual public event “Women Researchers Day” to celebrate women in science (3 editions, 2013-2015); The annual Excellence Awards for women researchers (3 editions, 2013-2015); Producing and presenting the Documentary films ‘’UAIC Profiles of Women in Science” (3 editions, 2013-2015); Organising the Documentary Exhibition “UAIC – A Place of Women in Science”. These actions were attended by 500 beneficiaries, the exhibition had around 1,500 visitors, and the 3 films posted also on YouTube got over 1,600 views. Other forms of public communication for increasing women’s visibility and recognition were: Creating an open source database/compendium of women researchers; Promoting interviews in mass media and on the UAIC-STAGES’ website; Sustaining PR campaigns on the role and responsibilities of women in science (
• Practices of building cooperative relations and positive attitude by involving the UAIC’s management in gender equality activities. Based on “the cooperation paradigm” as a pillar of our strategy for structural change by transformative and formative praxis, the team was permanently striving to ensure the support of the top and middle managers, through direct engagement in gender equality actions. In turn, the openness of the UAIC’s management for this project was manifested from the beginning. Creating cooperative relations and positive attitudes by involving the managers in our activities stimulated their interest and support for promoting Gender Equality Management policies and programmes. These building cooperation practices included: Organising periodic meetings with the UAIC’s Rectors to present the activities and results of the UAIC-STAGES project and to consider their direct commitment in different actions; Including top UAIC representatives (the Rector and two Vice-Rectors) in the Advisory Board; Involving women and men in leadership positions (Deans, Department heads, Senate members) as contributors to the Network’s activities; Organising special dialogues on GES between managers and European gender experts invited to UAIC.
• Practices of connecting gender equality to the UAIC’s institutional strategies and programmes. Such practices resulted from initiating institutional debates on the beneficial correlations between scientific excellence, gender equality and responsible research by fostering topics such as Excellence without gender bias, HR Excellence in Research and Gender Equality Programme, Gender Equality and Innovation Management in Academia or Responsible Research and Innovation: Gender in Entrepreneurial University. Other actions supported the university’s quest for internationalisation and competitiveness by providing specific resources made available within the project, like Documenting European policies and programmes on GES; Comparing gender statistics in academia and research in EU, RO and UAIC; Analysing research funding systems in EU in order to develop national standards for GES. Engaging the team in supporting the UAIC’s process of European certification “HR Excellence in Research” by highlighting the relevance of principles concerning GES was also an example for such practices, as well as Providing gender consultancy on European GE Policies for the Human Resources, Projects Management, and International Relations Departments.
• Practices for improving organisational practices related to the gender balanced representation in research and academic leadership. Given the transformative character of this project, some actions directly focused on undertaking critical analysis, followed by appropriate constructive proposals, in order to improve the existing practices, especially when they are connected with gender structural disparities. Such actions were: Negotiating proposals of new transparent rules and procedures for appointing/electing members of the high-level boards and commissions; Proposals for introducing provisions encouraging women’s participation in grants application; Proposals for extending provision of grants to be allocated for women professional development. A concrete form of gender representation was applied by Establishing a Senate position for the representative of the UAIC Network of Women. To improve leadership practices concerning gender balanced representation it is important that the networking activities initiated by the UAIC Network, and continued through other networks of women created by its inspirational model, are further sustained.
• Practices supporting the UAIC’s programme for work-life balance and childcare services. Such practices attested also the reformist character assumed by the project. In this case, starting with the services provided by the UAIC’s existing childcare programme (based on the ”Junior” Kindergarten and primary school for children of UAIC employees and students), some improvements were proposed and influenced by actions like: Prospecting organisational opportunities to support families by developing existing services; Disseminating information on childcare and other services delivered to staff; Setting up a partnership agreement with different childcare institutions in the city to extend services for university staff.
• Practices for encouraging young women researchers and cultivating women mentorship. Actions supporting the establishment of such practices were: Organising annual early-career researchers’ days to reinforce the motivation and strengthen researchers’ confidence (; Providing information and advice on professional development for young researchers; Involving the members of the Network in trainings and open courses for early career researchers for sharing their successful experience and offering role models; Acknowledging the tradition of women’s mentorship at UAIC and cultivating these formative relations by publicising influential examples
• Practices of integrating gender in the content and methods of research and education. Considering this important direction for promoting GES, new practices were introduced at UAIC: Implementing a cross-disciplinary teaching module on gender and science in PhD/MA programmes; Introducing the theme Gender Equality in Science in the PhD studies; Organising scientific events on Gendered Science with applications in Medical Chemistry, in Geography & Environment science, and in Economics; Supporting specialisation in GES by providing grants/documentary internships for young researchers; Promoting publications on relevant GES themes.
• Practices for developing connections with international Women Researchers Networks and sustaining the UAIC’s participation at European conferences and projects on gender in research and education. Actions for international networking with European Associations of Women in Science and gender experts’ communities, as well as with other universities’ Centres for Gender Equality were considered an important component of our strategy. There are several examples of connections already established between the UAIC Centre and the UAIC Network of Women and prestigious international institutions, associations and networks like ERC, EIGE, LERU, CNRS France, EPWS, Gender Summit, aiming to integrate our approaches on GES in the European context.
• Practices of developing cooperation and partnership in order to extend and multiply the UAIC’s experience and good practices to other institutions in Romania. Such practices constitute both a form of broad dissemination of our project achievements at national level and a form of preparation for future projects and joint activities with other partners. As such, we developed actions in collaboration with ARACIS, UEFISCDI, MEN and universities to extend and multiply the UAIC’s innovative experience. It is worth mentioning, in this context, the presentation of the UAIC-STAGES activities and results as an example of “Success story” in the documents of the National Conference of Research and Innovation, held in Bucharest in October 2013, in the presence of the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, who launched the EU Framework Programme “Horizon 2020” in Romania (
The creation and institutionalisation of such organisational structures as the UAIC Centre for Gender Equality in Science and the UAIC Network of Women in Academia and Research, the large participation in the new organisational practices, which gained an impressive public renown (such as the annual events Women Researchers Day, Women Excellence Awards, the documentary films “UAIC Profiles of Women in Science”, the Exhibition “UAIC - A Place for Women in Science”), the experience earned in organising trainings, courses, workshops and conferences on GES, as well as the appreciation of the practices adding a gender equality dimension to university policies and strategies are, altogether, sound premises for ensuring the sustainability and development of the action-programmes initiated by the UAIC-STAGES project.

The general approach towards implementing the Action Plan was threefold. First, the team invested in building and using informal networks to build a critical mass of empowered female scientists, which is a bottom-up approach. Second, the team invested in building sustainable relations with the leadership of the university and both institutes, by critically supporting and scrutinising existing equality policies, like the mentoring programme and the gender target figures. This supported a top-down approach towards gender equality. Third, the team invested in gender awareness training of the management of the two research institutes to support organisational stakeholders to become problem owners of gender inequality. We call this a participatory approach. We describe the self-reinforcing feedback-processes related to these three approaches in the text below and illustrate them in the model below.
The bottom-up approach of building and using informal networks, for example, was used to develop a women’s network for junior female academic staff. In 2012, STAGES project team members cooperated with female colleagues from their informal networks to institutionalise the Halkes Women Faculty Network, for female academic staff from PhD students to Associate Professors. This network complemented the existing university’s Network of Female Full professors (NVH). The positions of chair, treasurer and secretary of the Halkes Women Faculty Network were initially all taken by PhD students. Since the Halkes Women Faculty Network visibly represented the younger generation, this increased the legitimacy of the network and increased support of the NVH for this new initiative. The Halkes Women Faculty Network became very active during the STAGES project period. Till September 2015, it organised a series of ten successful meetings (both lunch meetings and lectures) and a conference and became institutionally supported by the university (budget of 5,000 euros per year). Moreover, the Halkes Women Faculty Network became recognised as a conversation partner in setting university equality policies. Together with the NVH, it has a critical mass that supports the development of gender equality policies. In return, the university board provides financial and administrative resources to support the networks, which further increases the strength of the women’s networks.
The project team also built sustainable relationships with stakeholders like the leadership of the research institutes, the university and the diversity officer, by critically scrutinising existing policies, like the mentoring programme, work-life policies, internal communication on recruitment and gender target figures. Supporting top-down policies, the project team evaluated three rounds of the mentoring programme during the STAGES project period, using semi-structured interviews with mentors, focus groups with mentees and a survey to assess the quality of the programme and the learning outcomes of both mentors and mentees. The project team scrutinised the opportunities of the mentoring programme to support structural transformation in the organisation, by not only asking mentees but also mentors what they learned about (gender equality in) their organisation. Moreover, during the STAGES project period, the team gave frequent recommendations for improvement of the programme. The RU’s work-life policies consist of paid maternity leave, partly paid parental leave, childcare facilities, the opportunity to work part-time and to work flexible hours and places. The STAGES project team evaluated the use of these work-life policies by performing focus groups with twenty-one scientists at the two research institutes, to examine their use of the policies and the opportunities these policies provide to transform the masculine culture of the organisation. Recommendations were discussed with the university leadership. Third, the project team critically evaluated gender stereotypes in internal communication (both in internal newsletters and in recruitment and selection) at the level of the two research institutes, giving recommendations to the leadership of the institutes to improve this communication, for example regarding the visibility of women scientists in this communication or regarding avoiding gender stereotypes. Finally, gender target figures were regularly discussed with the leadership of the research institutes and the university board in the context of strategic plans at the institutional and university level.
Finally, the participatory approach was performed by actively involving the leadership of the two research institutes (DI and IMR) in the design of the Action Plan (IMR leadership, diversity officer), in selecting participants for the gender awareness training (DI and IMR leadership) and in the analysis of gender inequality in their research institutes in order for them to become problem owners (DI and IMR leadership). The method of Group Model Building that was applied during the gender awareness training, invites the stakeholders to discuss and understand the dynamic structure underneath gender inequality in their institutes and to identify leverages for change. Moreover, the team was available for supporting the implementation of the recommendations that were made during the gender awareness training sessions, so actively participating in the use of the results. To illustrate, at the DI, three project team members became part of the gender steering group that was responsible for implementing the measures aimed at gender equality. At IMR, after the training, the project team members were informally consulted on a regular basis by the faculty board, for example on the new strategic plan and for screening job advertisements on gender bias. This positively supported the development and implementation of gender equality policies, both at the level of research institutes and the university. If the project team became involved in implementing them, this further increased sustainable relations with stakeholders.
The main results of the Action Plan can be summarised as follow.
The top-down mentoring programme has been extended from 25 female mentees in 2011 (academic and support staff) to 35 female mentees (academic staff) per year in 2015, reaching 63 female scientists during the STAGES project period. Moreover, its content has been continuously improved. A bottom-up initiative to mentor PhD students and postdocs has been developed at the Dl.
Work-Life balance has become an issue in the strategic plan of the university for the period 2015-2020. The STAGES project team has provided input based on the focus groups with male and female scientists on this issue during the development of this strategic plan.
The Halkes Women Faculty Network has been institutionalised, increasing support for early-stage career development for young female scientists via lunch meetings, lectures and conferences. It has become recognised as a formal conversation partner of the university board regarding diversity policies. The network has good contacts with the network of full professors (NVH) and the diversity officer at the HR Department of the university.
Internal communication on recruitment and career progress in the two research institutes, both in internal newsletters and in job advertisement texts, has been scrutinised for gender stereotypes and the leadership has been given recommendations to prevent them.
The leadership of both research institutes has actively participated in three sessions of gender awareness training during the project period. The dean of IMR and the former director of DI have become advocates of gender equality within their research institutes and at the university level. The university board has announced that gender awareness training will be included in the current academic leadership training for future university leadership and the project team coordinator is involved in implementing it
A bi-annual PhD course on Research Methods from a Gender Perspective has been developed and implemented and will be part of the regular course programme of the Institute for Gender Studies. A gender dimension has also been integrated in the European Master of System Dynamics.
The gender target figures that were set within the STAGES project helped to increase the number of female full professors in the two research institutes addressed. The proportion of female full professors at IMR increased from 22% in 2011 to 28% in 2014. At the Donders Institute women in positions equal to full professor (PI) increased from 10% in 2011 to 17% in 2014.

In the framework of the technical assistance, led by ASDO, four main areas of activities are considered here:
A. development of the annual detailed planning;
B. bilateral technical assistance;
C. mutual learning;
D. feasibility study on sustainability.
A) A technical assistance has been provided to the partners for the development of the annual detailed planning.
At the beginning of each implementation year, ASDO provided the partners with a chronogram scheme (based on 15-days interval) including all the activities foreseen in the DoW. Using this scheme, each partner developed the annual detailed planning of its Action Plan, in the form of a GANTT chart covering all the activities scheduled under each Task/Action, including all relevant deadlines for the year. The last year detailed planning frequently included sustainability-oriented activities to be implemented after the lifespan of the STAGES project.
B) As for the bilateral technical assistance, it developed along two main axes: monitoring activities and on-site visits.
Monitoring activities have been largely based on the annual planning exercise, which provided the basis for ASDO to develop each year the monitoring checklists, collected in an electronic database, to be used in monitoring and for structuring the monitoring notes sent to the partner after each session. Overall, 91 monitoring sessions have been held, some of them carried out in connection with the annual on-site visits.
The on-site visits have been annually organised by ASDO to the premises of the implementing partners, based on specific bilateral agreements. The visits pursued different aims: directly learning what was going on in the Action Plans; discussing with the teams about implementation issues; organising meetings with leaders and stakeholders in the research organisation; more qualitatively monitoring the ongoing activities; participating in special occasions (public meetings, seminars, presentations etc.). In the first period of the project implementation process, the on-site visits have been prevalently used for favouring the launch and consolidation of the Action Plans, while in the last period they have been increasingly devoted to discuss the sustainability perspectives and arrangements that the teams have been setting up in view of the conclusion of the project. Overall, 17 on-site visits have been held throughout the project implementation period. Two additional meetings with the implementing teams have been instead organised at a distance.
C) Mutual learning was aimed at favouring an exchange among the partners and, occasionally, with the staff of other EC-funded structural change projects. The mutual learning process developed through a set of sessions (both at-a-distance and in-presence meetings). Overall, 10 mutual learning meetings have been organised, both in connection with or independently of the Steering Committee meetings.
All the meetings, be they at a distance or in presence, have been prepared by circulating the agenda and a scheme for the presentations of the Action Plans to facilitate comparison and exchange. The aim of these meetings was to provide a group monitoring action and to deal together with the qualitative issues which emerged from the implementation of the Action Plans and which coould benefit of a plurality of points of view, so to foster mutual learning.
The “qualitative” part of the meetings were generally organised as a working seminar focusing on a specific issue (e.g., the drafting of the feasibility plans) or set of issues (e.g., effective methods to involve the institutional leadership in the Action Plans; the women researchers’ networks as an active player of structural change), in some cases inviting external experts (e.g., the members of the International Board of Scientific Advisors - IBSA).
In the second part of the project, the shift was to more intense peer-to-peer learning efforts, with the direct elaboration by the partners of relevant common issues, giving way to bilateral and multilateral collaborations, also aiming to external dissemination. This approach led to identification of the 14 common issues, which, in the formulation proposed by ASDO, were used as the basis for discussion with the other structural change projects during the STAGES mid-term workshop. In the Outline for discussion of the workshop, indeed, the issues identified in mutual learning activities have been described:
• Gaining transformational capacities.
• Raising awareness and addressing resistances.
• Creating internal networks.
• Involving top leadership.
• Involving middle management.
• Involving research leadership.
• Involving internal organisational structures dealing with equality and diversity issues.
• Promoting male involvement.
• Managing gender equality projects in changing environments.
• Negotiating change under non-flexible legal frameworks.
• Understanding and adapting to the features of the organisation.
• Making S&T settings friendly environments for women.
• Building gender-aware science and fighting male-centred stereotypes.
- Promoting women in senior and decision-making positions.
The partners implementing Action Plans chose to present cross-cutting issues at the workshop, instead of simply presenting their own Action Plans. Different strategies (interviews, questionnaires, analysis of documentation, etc.) have therefore been used to collect information on the experience of the other partners in relation to each selected issue.
In the last year of the project, the mutual learning effort has been increasingly linked to the drafting of the final Guidelines of the project. To this aim, an outline for discussion on the contents and structure of the Guidelines, and the most effective cooperative procedures to get to draft them was circulated and then discussed in a mutual learning session specifically devoted to the development of the Guidelines and on the project’s intranet.
D) The feasibility study on the sustainability of the STAGES Action Plans was intended as a specific knowledge management tool aimed at favouring the preparation of the sustainability plans of the actions included in each Action Plan.
The activities related to the feasibility study begun in July 2012, with the collection of documents related to similar projects and, in general, scientific and technical literature addressing the issue of sustainability of policies and programmes conceived to ignite processes of change and having a well-defined duration and funding.
Since the study was “tailored”, i.e., geared to deal with the specific problems of the five organisation implementing Action Plans in the framework of STAGES, it actually dealt with information coming from technical assistance activities, especially bilateral monitoring and on-site visits. It anyway took stock, more in general, of all the documents related to the implementation of structural change initiatives.
The feasibility study was completed on June 2013. It constituted the basis and defined a road map for the partners to develop their respective sustainability plans, of which they were responsible. After the completion of the feasibility study, anyway, ASDO kept assisting the implementing partner to facilitate them in their task.
The evaluation of the action plans has been ensured by ASDO. This activity was aimed at monitoring the quality of their implementation. The evaluation approach, however, did not intend monitoring as a static judgmental procedure, where data were periodically collected to simply express an assessment or worse to "give a score" to the APs, to be passively recognised by the implementing teams.
Evaluation was rather understood as the opportunity, offered and structured by the Evaluation Team, of a shared process of reflection on the problems met during the implementation of the Action Plans, so to activate learning processes on the basis of experience. This is why an important role was attributed to self-evaluation by the teams, integrated with the evaluating team’s point of view, in the position of "critical friends", neither totally external (because for instance of continuous contacts through periodic monitoring sessions), nor directly part of the teams implementing the Plans.
Evaluation, in particular, provided information that could be used for practical purposes and to produce new knowledge. Through periodic checks, it included support for the advancement and the overall quality of the tasks assigned to the STAGES partners in charge of the five Action Plans, and ensured that they were able, if necessary, to adjust project activities to the changing needs and/or goals of the concerned institutions.
The evaluation of the action plans was held every year during operation, and again at the end of the project (final evaluation). Overall, four annual evaluation reports and a final evaluation report have been drafted. The annual assessments made during operations were intended not only to verify the progress made in the planned activities, but also to record and evaluate the changes occurred while the Action Plans are implemented.
Five evaluation criteria have been applied.
• Effectiveness, intended as the capacity to implement the activities according to the Action Plan’s provisions, attaining the objectives outlined in the document.
• Efficiency, intended as the capacity to make the best use of available resources, complying with the timeframes and procedures contemplated for expenses, in the context of a good managerial capacity.
• Impact, concerning the satisfaction of the beneficiaries of the Action Plans and the capacity to promote consensus among the other players involved (subjective impact) and the effects obtained in terms of real change within the organisations (objective impact).
• Sustainability, which refers to the capacity of the actions implemented through the Action Plans to continue producing effects even beyond the end of the programme.
• Relevance, concerning the adequacy of the initiatives foreseen in the Action Plans to the situation of the organisations in which they are conducted, as well as to the wider social, cultural and economic contexts of reference for S&T in the different countries involved. Considered the strategic approach of STAGES, relevance encompasses also the analysis of negotiation activities carried out for each Action Plan as for institutional, interpretive, symbolic and operational levels.
More than 70 indicators, mainly but not only qualitative, have been identified, covering all these criteria.
The evaluation of the Action plans was based on several sources, both living (project team, beneficiaries, other staff of the institutions not directly involved in the Action Plans, members of IBSA and national committees of the project) and documentary (notes of the monitoring sessions, reports of meetings, official documents as deliverables and websites, other working documents of the implementing institutions).
The technical tools included ongoing evaluation grids, questionnaires addressed to different interlocutors, as well as reading grids and check-lists to read and analyse deliverables and other documents.
Information has been collected by ASDO, the organisation in charge of evaluation, with the help of the Action Plans staff, through monitoring activities, and using specific technical tools
The accompanying research, designed as a cross-cutting activity led by ASDO, was intended as a support tool for collecting, organising and processing the large amount of information about structural change emerging from the implementation of the Action Plans which otherwise could be lost.
In line with its functional nature, the accompanying research pursued two practical aims.
The first aim was that of collecting information on the implementation of the action plans to be used for developing the Guidelines on starting processes of structural change towards gender equality in science organisations (see below).
The second aim was favouring a successful project implementation process. In fact, research results have been entered into the cycle of project management mainly through the technical assistance activities carried out by ASDO throughout the four years of implementation.
Ongoing research was needed since the project inevitably confronted the difficulty of identifying beforehand which of the specific environmental dynamics and structural features of the institutions involved were able to seriously hinder the action plans at the different stages of implementation, and which, on the contrary, were able to provide different forms of support.
In this perspective, the accompanying research developed along with the implementation of the Action Plans so as to collect first-hand information on what was going on in the participating institutions. Special attention has been given to the change processes which were being activated – to different extents – by the Action Plans, the evolution and changes in the project teams and their progressive ability to act as transformational players in the institution, the supporting and hindering factors and dynamics emerging during implementation, as well as the strategies devised to manage them.
The empirical basis of the accompanying research has been built based on the information collected through a multiplicity of sources, the most important being the analysis of documentation and the direct observation connected to technical assistance activities (bilateral monitoring sessions, on-site visits, mutual learning activities, detailed planning, support to sustainability planning).
Two research reports have been produced, i.e., the Mid-term report and the Final report.
The Mid-term research report was delivered at the beginning of 2014 and presented in the same year at the Mid-term workshop held in Brussels on March 25th.
The first part of the report provided insight, gained in the first two years of the implementation and research, into some critical junctures of gender equality-oriented programmes, where choices have to be made among different options, i.e.:
• the sets of issues and problems to be addressed (women’s access to leadership, stereotypes and bias against women, work-life balance, etc.);
• the most effective approaches to start up structural change processes (fix-the-women approach; fix-the-organisation approach; fix-the-knowledge approach)
• the ways to effectively activate structural change processes within a specific organisational setting.
In the second part of the report the analytical framework of the accompanying research was presented. It consists of an observational model, primarily based on the identification of:
• three general risk areas for women in science (science as an unfriendly environment for women; science as gender-insensitive; scientific leadership missing women);
• four dimensions of the negotiation processes activated by the Action Plans in order to redefine gender arrangements and power distribution (interpretive, symbolic, institutional and operational dimensions) and
• four components of the change process (the creation of the transformational agent; the activation of agency dynamics; the interaction of agency dynamics and structural circumstances – procedures, norms, cultural orientations, behavioural patterns, etc.; the resulting outcomes, in terms of structural transformations).
The third part of the report described the empirical basis of the accompanying research in terms of “Meaningful Situations” (i.e., situations which were relevant to the analytical framework of the research and able to support or hinder structural change processes), target risk areas, interlocutors, negotiation processes, conflicts and impacts. An analysis of the main dynamics of the change process was also proposed.
The fourth part was devoted to the presentation and discussion of 11 cross-cutting issues emerging from mutual learning activities as a recurrent critical points in the implementation of the Action Plans. They included, among other, the awareness raising process, the creation of internal networks, the involvement of top leaderships, middle managers and research leadership and the adaptation of the Action Plan to the features of the organisation.
The fifth part included the contribution of the five implementing teams, while the sixth and final part proposed some provisional conclusion at mid-term.
The Final research report was delivered at the end of the STAGES project and was organised in five chapters.
The first three chapters were respectively devoted to recall the institutional framework, the analytical framework and methodological framework.
Chapter four provided a systematic description of how the empirical basis of the research was actually built, along with the results stemming from its analysis at an aggregate level, comparing the situation of the implementation process at mid-term and at the end of the project.
In chapter five, an in-depth analysis of the dynamics of change activated by the different Action Plans was provided. The analysis yielded some broader indications about how structural change processes in the domain of gender equality are ignited, develop, are hindered or favoured by internal or external factors and finally become structural components of the organisation (in terms of, e.g., new rules, organisational practices, cultural orientations).
The Guidelines have been developed under the coordination of ASDO with the cooperation of all the partners, capitalising on the empirical knowledge produced during the STAGES project.
The Guidelines aimed to derive new insights about the actual implementation process of gender equality-oriented projects in scientific institutions. For this reason, they did not have the ambition of presenting a new original set of principles and recommendations on the necessary components of a gender equality programme, but focused on the know-how which was gained in the implementation of the STAGES Action Plans. Therefore, the focus was on implementation strategies, through the presentation of the different solutions envisaged by the partners to achieve their objectives.
As a consequence, the Guidelines, practice-based as they are, can be somewhat unsystematic, in that they only contain elements, which emerged from the implementation of the five Action Plans, with no claim to be exhaustive. On the other hand, they have the advantage of looking in depth at implementation issues based on experience in five different organisational settings, so that the reader is more likely to find resonance with the situation at her/his institution with its particular implementation challenges and dynamics.
The STAGES Guidelines are aimed at people working in a scientific organisation who, be it in the framework of a funded project or independently, are willing to launch a programme for gender equality. They can be leaders at different levels of the organisation or they can just be part of it. This does not mean of course that these Guidelines are not relevant to decision-makers outside universities and research institutions. They can in fact be inspirational for policies both at national and at European level.
The First Part of the Guidelines contains basic information about the five Action Plans and the institutions where they were implemented, particularly relevant in the framework of practice-based, contextual Guidelines.
In the Second Part, the recommendations (20) are presented in six broad fields of action. These have been identified and discussed by the partners, with the contribution of the project’s International Board of Advisors, as essential elements of a structural change process. Most recommendations are broken down into specific lines of action (41), and all are exemplified by a selection of the relevant practices tested by the partners (100 overall).
The six fields of action are:
• Collecting data and monitoring gender equality;
• Engaging leaderships;
• Policy-making and institutionalisation;
• Networking and empowering women to take action;
• Integrating gender in education and research;
• Communication and visibility.
In the introductory part, a set of cross-cutting issues are also presented, including:
• the strong contextual character of the implementation process;
• the need to constantly negotiate the meaning of gender equality;
• the overlap among actions directly addressing women researcher, those addressing their institutions and those questioning the neutrality of scientific disciplines;
• the necessity of building the Action Plans on the basis of a careful identification of the resources available within and outside the organisation;
• the need for bridging top-down and bottom-up approaches as well as for developing cooperation relationships with external;
• the presence of recurring patterns in the time necessary for the Action Plans to develop;
• the need to constantly adapt and redesign the Action Plans to keep them relevant to emerging contextual situations, needs and priorities;
• the importance to start from the very beginning the quest for ensuring future sustainability of the actions initiated under the Action Plan.
The main objectives of this set of activities, coordinated by the DPO, were to communicate the results being obtained through the project, to collect suggestions from the scientific community and from other relevant stakeholders, to facilitate activities and knowledge brokerage through networking in order to contribute to the promotion of a new culture of gender equality in science. The circulation of information and the promotion of the project’s results have been ensured by using the communication tools prepared and updated by the DPO, in collaboration with the partners. The following results can be particularly stressed:
• Creation and updating of the project website (first version and a brand new one version);
• Drafting and uploading of 6 issues of the e-newsletter;
• Supporting the presence in the media, networking and creation of a new mailing list;
• Participation to conferences in order to present the project;
• Creation and coordination of the National Committees.
A) Project website. A project website has been designed and developed in the first months of the project implementation period. The website contained the following sections: information on STAGES activities, partners and contacts; information on the five Action Plans; access to the project intranet system; resource centres containing the most important documents on equal opportunities and science; a Gallery hosting pictures related to the project; the Press review, devoted to the presence of the project in the media both at national and international level; information and documents on the main project products (deliverables), the internal meetings of the project, the International Board of Advisors and the National Committees; the project newsletter; speed news on the project; documents and texts about structural change towards gender equality; information on events connected to the project, and news in general concerning women in science. The maintenance and updating of the website have been assured all along the project execution.
B) E-newsletter. As planned, 6 issues of the e-newsletter have been issued (both in English and Italian) respectively in: August 2012; January 2013; August 2013; December 2013; March 2014; January 2015.
C) Presence in the media, networking and creation of a new mailing list. All the partners (especially those implementing the Action Plans) have developed strong contacts with local and national media. Overall, more than 100 contacts with the media (including TV reports and interviews, articles on newspapers and magazines, press-releases) have been reported by the partners implementing the Action Plans. A mailing list including 3,600 contacts has been developed at the beginning of the project, including different types of entries (representatives of national public administrations, local public administrations, experts, scholars, PHD students, etc.). The mailing list has been constantly updated and new contacts have been added reaching over 7,000 entries.
D) Presentations and papers. All the partners, during the project period, participated in conferences to present the project and published scientific papers. Around 130 papers, conference presentations and poster presentations have been overall reported by the project partners.
E) National Committees. As we said above, five National Committees have been established in the first year of the project implementation period. The National Committees have been involved in different ways, including scientific advice, direct involvement as committee or as individual members in the activities carried out under the Action Plan and support in establishing relationships with external stakeholders. Date of establishment and composition of the committees are as follows:
• Italy. Month of establishment: July 2012. Composition: 13 experts, including researchers from 7 Italian universities, journalists, experts from private institutions and representatives of local administrations.
• Germany. Month of establishment: November 2012. Composition: 16 members, both internal and external to Fraunhofer; most of them come from research and technology institutes. Federal institutions, media as well as organisations focused on gender issues are also represented.
• Denmark. Month of establishment: September 2012. Composition: 5 members, representatives of Danish universities and the Confederation of Danish Academics.
• Romania. Month of establishment: October 2012. Composition: 4 members, experts in higher education evaluation and policies.
• The Netherlands. Month of establishment: September 2012. Composition: representatives of universities (Amsterdam and Tilburg), two private firms (Bedrijf and KPMG), media operators and a non-for-profit consortium (Talent to the Top).
The general management of the project, ensured by DPO, included different types of activities, all of pivotal importance for the success of the STAGES project as a whole.
A) Project administration. DPO ensured the administration of the project as a whole, including the organisation of the project meetings related to the Steering Committee and the Executive Board, the production and delivery of the periodic and final reports, the drafting of main documents related to the management of the project, and the development of all the documents related to the organisation of project events. Overall, 14 events have been organised, i.e.:
• Kick-off Meeting of the STAGES project, March 19th 2012, Rome
• 1st Steering committee meeting, June 28th 2012, Rome
• 2nd Steering committee meeting, January 22nd, 2013, Rome
• 3rd Steering committee meeting, April 12th, 2013, Rome
• 1st Meeting of the International Board of Scientific Advisors (IBSA), October 26th 2012, Rome
• 5th Steering Committee Meeting, October 28th 2013, Rome
• Mid-Term Workshop of the STAGES Project titled “Gender and Science: Advancements and resistances in fighting structural inequality”, March 25th 2014, Brussels
• 6th Steering Committee Meeting, June 25th 2014 (through the Skype video conference system)
• 2nd Meeting of the International Board of Scientific Advisors (IBSA), October 29th 2013, Rome
• 7th Steering Committee Meeting, January 26th 2015, Rome
• Extraordinary Steering Committee Meeting, February 11th (through the Skype video conference system)
• 3rd Meeting of the International Board of Scientific Advisors (IBSA), January 27th 2015, Rome
• 4th Meeting of the International Board of Scientific Advisors (IBSA), October 5th 2015, Rome
• Final Conference titled “Structural transformation to achieve gender equality in science”, December 3rd 2015, Brussels
B) Relation with the EC. The DPO was in charge for the relations with the European Commission and DG Research. This included formal and informal exchange of information (letters, e-mail) with the EC project officer and financial officer as well as the organisation of meetings with them.
C) Internal communication. The DPO provided the partners with an assistance during all the phases of the project. In this regard, DPO has maintained regular contacts with the team members, keeping them informed of the progress/problems/delays and clarification related to the project. The DPO was also in contact with the administrative and financial officers of all the organisations of the consortium in order to provide the necessary support in filling the financial statements. The internal communication has been performed by e-mail messages, web-conferences and mainly by the intranet system specifically created for the project.
D) Quality Plan. A “Quality plan” has been developed by DPO for the monitoring and evaluation of common actions. As foreseen in the plan, questionnaires have been administered at the end of each reporting period to record the partners’ evaluation of common actions, that is, the actions performed under Work Package 6 (Technical Assistance), WP7 (Evaluation of the Action Plans), WP8 (Guidelines), WP9 (Communication), and WP10 (Project Management). The results of the monitoring and evaluation activities have been integrated in the periodic reports.

Potential Impact:
The main potential impacts of the STAGES project are connected with the five Action Plans. Most of these impacts have been described above (see Description of the main S&T results/foreground). In this section, some considerations about impacts and sustainability of the Action Plans, drawn by the final evaluation report, are briefly provided.
The main impacts of the Action Plan carried out at UMIL are likely those produced by the activities related to gender medicine, the two Schools launched under the Action Plan and the establishment of the Centre GENDERS.
- The impact of the gender medicine workshops and of the courses on gender medicine to students turned out to be fundamental in spreading this paradigm in an environment in which gender medicine was barely known and in preparing the ground for sustainable changes.
- The impact of the two Schools was primarily that of granting to participants the acquisition of new skills and ultimately to increase their capacity of participating to European calls for funding and to improve their publications. It is still too early to fully assess this impact, even if preliminary results are encouraging. The Schools, however, had the parallel impact of further stimulating changes in internal policies and programmes in this area.
- Finally, the impact of creating a new Centre with a strong focus on gender and science and the direct involvement of the Departments targeted by the STAGES Project has already positively emerged in the final STAGES year. Actually, the members of the above-mentioned Departments got increasingly involved in the activities included in the Action Plan and in other activities of the Centre. Moreover, the Centre has become an important point of reference in the sustainability phase.
Unequivocal impact signs were moreover recorded both in the attitudes of the actors involved (subjective impact) and in actual transformations occurred (objective impact).
As for subjective impact, the agreement of the different players towards aims, philosophy and setting of the Action Plan as a whole has been generally high or very high, as well as the satisfaction with the project’s results. During the project life, the team increased the number and diversified the type of interlocutors involved. Among these, it was not possible to include the Equal opportunities committee, due to its transformation by law into CUG (Unique Committee of Guarantee), which caused a period of vacancy. This has been a reason for not addressing in the Action Plan issues related to the work-life balance of women researchers, still recognised as crucial, because of the absence of the main institutional player in this field at UMIL.
Some occasional exceptions to the general consensus emerged (in only one case of overt opposition), but without affecting the general performance of the Plan. Also thanks to the good relationship created with external international and national actors (just to mention one of them, the Lombardia Region as the key player for health and medicine issues at the local level), the role and visibility of the project team in the University was enhanced and increasingly recognised.
It is also worth noticing that a new action (the network of young women researchers) was inserted to the aim of involving in a constructive and systematic way the young women researchers in the Action Plan, adopting in planning and implementing some project actions a top-down and a bottom-up approach at once.
Concerning objective impact, manifold changes were triggered, and some of them have been made permanent starting from the first year of project implementation, such as the balanced gender composition of the university board of administration. Others were introduced progressively, as the Action Plan was advancing, as in the case of the gradual diffusion of gender medicine amongst the medical departments and hospitals of the university. Other changes again are currently taking place, also enhanced by the organisational transformation still ongoing at the university. Among these latter, the increased emphasis, resulting in training courses for graduate students, on project design as a key competence for PhD students, also acknowledging the relevance of sex and gender components in all the project lifecycle.
As far as sustainability is concerned, no specific or recurrent substantial constraints have been met in establishing sustainable arrangements in order to secure the continuation of the Action Plan. Yet, regarding the courses on gender medicine addressed to students, brainstorming and negotiation processes with key actors have been already activated in order to evaluate the possibility of making them part of the curricula as compulsory courses. This process is obviously long and articulated, since it implies organisational and logistic changes as well as choices in teaching priorities that involve also other medical fields. The continuation of the courses in their present form, however, has already been secured.
Some factors came into play in favouring long-term sustainability of the key activities of the Action Plan.
• In the designing phase, the careful analysis of data, organisational arrangements, existing/lacking policies on gender equality, exploration of demands among stakeholders.
• In both the designing and implementation phases, the idea of planning/implementing actions in a mutually reinforcing way, with each action linked to the others.
• In the implementation phase: the capacity of adapting the Plan and single actions to emerging and concrete needs; the constant use of an inclusive approach used to actually tailor actions and to constantly broaden the network of beneficiaries, allies and actors involved in the project at all levels of the organisation; the capacity of involving in the activities of the project external actors relevant for the entire organisation and of building stable and enduring partnerships.
The sustainability effort has been formalised, as planned, in the sustainability plan during the last project year, but it has been a constant concern during the project lifespan, leading some actions, as said, to become permanent arrangements while STAGES was still running.
As for the future, and still taking advantage of the internal restructuration which required new institutional arrangements for all the research centres at UMIL, the STAGES sustainability plan was adopted as an integral part of the programmes of the new centre GENDERS, mentioned in its founding document.

Main impacts of the Action Plan are certainly linked to the most successful initiatives activated by the Team (BfCs Report, network of BfCs, Toolbox, National Conference).
Considering subjective impact (related to the consensus generated by the Action Plan), it is primarily to observe that many different players, both internal and external to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have been concerned with the Action Plan. The involvement of the Headquarters and, especially, of the Central BfC – as said above – was particularly significant for favouring long-term effects of the Action Plan.
Moreover, the Action Plan successfully reactivated the network of the BfCs in charge of the gender equality policies at the level of the 67 institutes operating under the umbrella of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. It is however to notice that, while a group of them have been strongly involved with the Action Plan (thus representing the core group of the network), other BfCs participated only partially and others remained in a marginal position. The future arrangements that will be discussed with the Headquarters should therefore take into account the fact that the BfCs’ involvement process started under STAGES still needs to be sustained.
This latter observation is important, also considering that it is up to the BfCs, in the future, to involve the staff at the institute level in gender equality policies. Mainly because of the institutional context, the Team could not directly proceed in this direction, but they made any effort to primarily involve the headquarters and, through it, the BfCs. However, this impeded them from directly addressing women researchers and the male component of the organisation, if not partially (e.g., through the National Conference or some communication activities).
In dealing with impacts, it is also to stress the important role played by the National Committee both in supporting the Action Plan and in facilitating the contacts between the Team and external institutions, with special reference to other non-university research institutes and private research centres. In this specific environment, the activities carried out have had a remarkable impact, offering the opportunity to Fraunhofer to take a leading position.
In terms of objective impact, as we said, the changes that have been introduced are not so many, but they certainly have a structural character, having a scope actually or potentially encompassing all the Fraunhofer institutes, which is a strong impact in itself; and that could not be given for granted at the beginning of the project.
With respect to sustainability, thanks to the already mentioned strong cooperation with the headquarters, and especially with the Central Commissioner for Equal Opportunities, some evident results have been attained (such as in the case of the BfC Report, which has been fully institutionalised). The Team is still discussing with the headquarters about the arrangements to be developed for ensuring that some of the actions will continue after the STAGES project lifespan. In some case (e.g., the BfC Report) structural arrangements have been already established and successfully tested, while in other cases the discussion is ongoing. In the sustainability perspective, it will be also important understanding to what extent the Team or individual Team members will be in the condition to keep a role in the process also after the completion of the Action Plan and to what extent the BfC network will be able to take over from the Team the responsibility of finding long-term solution for the activities initiated under the Action Plan.

In October 2014, the Committee for Research and External Cooperation at Aarhus University called for a revision of the Diversity Committee’s gender equality policy draft with the ambition of speeding up the implementation process by [a] prioritising between the suggested GE actions, [b] establishing clearer structures of responsibility and [c] outlining a specified plan for implementing the three to four central actions promoting “radical academic change”. In this regard the STAGES team provided expert assistance in prioritising between the many gender equality actions presented in the initial policy draft. The STAGES team responded by emphasising the importance of avoiding a “quick fix”-approach to GE, and suggested that the university would gain more from combining short term activities with a broader and more systematised and sustainability-oriented strategy prompting structural gender change.
With the appointment of a new Minister for Higher Education and Science in February 2014, the issue of Gender Equality in academia has been revitalised as a central topic of political debate at the national level, after several years of only modest concern. In this context, it is important to note that the STAGES team has made a particular effort to support this revitalisation in the public and political debate, by continuously writing newspaper features, journal and science-webzine articles, and participating in interviews published in nation-wide newspapers, on webzines and broadcasted national radio. This effort has been very rewarding as the STAGES team has been acknowledged as being the main experts in structural changes initiatives both at local and at national level. In this respect, the STAGES project has impacted developments at the national level as well, in particular in relation to the new report and recommendations of the National Task Force on more Women in Research established by the Minister for Higher Education and Science. The STAGES policy paper has been one of the main contributors to the report recently published by the ministerial Task Force on more Women in Research.
The timing of the STAGES policy paper, which was sent to the university management, the Diversity Committee and local university media in December 2014 and to the national Task Force on more Women in Research was strategically optimal and perfect. As illustrated in the following section, the main objective of the paper was to feed into the university’s gender equality work and raise organisational awareness of the importance and necessity of developing more long term gender equality strategies capable of mainstreaming gender into a wide spectrum of organisational activities, and committing the decentralised levels to take concrete actions by developing clear structures of responsibility based on regulatory oversight thus securing continuous local commitment and sustainable results.
The announcement of the STAGES policy paper in December 2014 led to extensive publicity in the months to follow. In February 2015, AU’s university newspaper “Omnibus” published a monthly edition under the general theme of “Gender Equality” with a cover page dedicated to the topic, an interview with the university Rector, and a five-page feature addressing the central findings of the STAGEs policy report inside the newspaper. Moreover, the policy paper became the object of ongoing debate between two prominent Danish gender scholars in a national Danish newspaper, and Aarhus University’s Vice Dean of Health, Lise Wogensen, and Copenhagen University professor Bente Rosenbeck wrote features inspired by the findings of the STAGES report in the same newspaper.
A National Taskforce on Gender Equality in Research, established by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, in May 2015 announced their recommendations on how to ensure and promote women researcher’s status and career advancement in Danish academia. The Taskforce’s recommendations share many similarities with the recommendations highlighted in the STAGES policy paper (NB. this policy paper was sent to the Taskforce six months earlier), and the National Taskforce also refer directly to the STAGES paper as one of its sources of inspiration. In this sense, the decision of the STAGEs team to distribute the policy paper to stakeholders outside Aarhus University proved to be an efficient strategy for diffusing project practices, policies, and recommendations, thus facilitating structural gender change in a wider national context.
Aarhus University’s scientific area of Health has also drawn heavily on the findings of the STAGES policy paper in the development of a new decentralised gender equality action plan. In the following months, the STAGES team will monitor the gender equality policy development in the three other scientific areas and provide support and assistance to the local stakeholders (i.e. Science and Technology, Aarhus BSS and Arts). The team has also presented the outcome of STAGES to the Academic Council at the Faculty of ARTS and advised them in connection with their new Gender Equality Plan 2016-2020.
Finally, the National Task Force on more Women in Research, established by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, in May 2015 announced their recommendations on how to ensure and promote women researcher’s status and career advancement in Danish academia. The Task Force’s recommendations share many similarities with the recommendations highlighted in the STAGES policy paper (the policy paper was sent to the Task Force six months earlier), and the National Taskforce refers directly to the STAGES paper as one of its main sources. In this sense, the decision of the STAGEs team to disseminate the results of the STAGES activities and distribute the policy recommendations to stakeholders outside Aarhus University proved to be an efficient strategy for diffusing project practices, policies, and recommendations, thus facilitating structural change in the wider national context.
The STAGES team offered support and guidance in the whole process of the mentoring programme, assisting the promotion of the programme, contributing with continual guidance and advice based on experiences and research based knowledge to the further development and implementation of the programme. An evaluation of the whole process of the mentoring programmes first year activities was launched. Throughout the period 2012-2015 the STAGES team provided the Human Resource department with support to solve concrete problems, assisting the department with the development of the design, the strategy for implementation, the evaluation of the programme, etc. The close cooperation with the Human Resource department on the mentoring programme was acknowledged by the department and a description of the STAGES project to their website was added thus extending the visibility of the STAGES project.
During the period of 2012-2014 two new gender oriented networks have emerged at Aarhus University. The Women in Physics network consists of women researchers at the Stellar Astrophysics Centre and addresses structural and cultural barriers for gender equality in the natural sciences. The Gendering in Research network (GiR) is an open network established as a platform where researchers and students with interest in gender research meet once a month for a gender focused presentation and talk. The STAGES team provided advice, organised events and workshops and supported the networks in their work.

To consider the change impacts within the organisation we should refer to the main significant results. Considering the results with respect to the project’s purpose of doing organisational changes to achieve gender equality in science, the real relevant transformations initiated and produced at UAIC consist in: 1) setting up new institutional structures; and 2) initiating new organisational practices.
The new institutional structures represent the main transformational agencies created and sustained for promoting gender equality actions that gradually became patterns for new organisational practices.
Their synergistic effects manifested in increasing gender awareness, introducing gender challenges on the institutional agenda, advancing gender equality programmes, which progressively determined structural change in the organisation.
The new institutional structures set up within the UAIC-STAGES project are:
- The UAIC’s Centre for Gender Equality in Science, the first centre for coordinating research, monitoring and documentation on gender equal opportunities in academia and research set up in a Romanian University.
- The UAIC Network of Women in Academia and Research, the first institutionalised association joining women and men academics and researchers who are interested in promoting organisational development in order to implement practices and programmes for improving GE at UAIC.
- The UAIC Research Group on Gender Studies, a multidisciplinary research team, composed of researchers with gender expertise from previous national and international projects as well as young researchers, tasked to conduct studies and evaluation on GES in Romanian institutions, particularly at UAIC.
- The UAIC-STAGES Communication Team, including specialists in communication sciences geared towards elaborating and implementing a multimedia communication strategy for increasing the public visibility of the scientific performances of women researchers and for disseminating gender equality actions promoted at UAIC.
The new organisational practices are the following:
• Practices of gender analysis and data collecting
• Practices of monitoring GE dynamics, evaluation of activities and programmes, and periodic reporting.
• Practices of gender problematisation by introducing gender issues and challenges on the institutional agenda
• Practices for increasing the women’s visibility, voice and recognition
• Practices of building cooperative relations and positive attitude by involving the UAIC’s management in gender equality activities
• Practices of connecting gender equality to the UAIC’s institutional strategies and programmes
• Practices for improving organisational practices related to the gender balanced representation in research and academic leadership
• Practices supporting the UAIC’s programme for work-life balance and childcare services
• Practices for encouraging young women researchers and cultivating women mentorship
• Practices of integrating gender in the content and methods of research and education
• Practices for developing connections with international Women Researchers Networks and sustaining the UAIC’s participation at the European conferences and projects on gender in research and education
• Practices of developing cooperation and partnership in order to extend and multiply the UAIC’s experience and good practices to other institutions in Romania.
The factors which contributed more in designing and establishing sustainable arrangements for the Action Plan are the following.
• The experience gained by the UAIC team in accomplishing a complex GES programme, with a great number of activities conducing towards real change in the University, under the guidance of the strategic model fixing the transformative and formative praxis of structural change for promoting GES
• The participatory strategy adopted from the very beginning, engaging a great number of professors, researchers, managers, post-docs and PhD students, administrative staff, who had an active role in our actions
• The institutional support and personal involvement of the top management in our activities
• The creation of permanent organizational structures as the UAIC Centre for GES, the UAIC Network of Women in Academia and Research, the UAIC Research Group on Gender studies
• The prestige our actions, especially public events as Women Researchers Day, Women Excellence Awards, Documentary Exhibition UAIC – A Place for women in Science etc. got inside and outside university
• The institutional cooperation and partnership with national authorities (MEN, UEFISCDI, ARACIS, CNATDCU) as well as with international organisations and associations that are interested and specialised in gender in science issues.

As for impact, the gender awareness training likely revealed to be the action most suitable to introduce changes within the organisation. Actually, this action helped the team to build strategic alliances with the Dean and the Managing directors of research institutes, who really gained ownership of the problem and became important advocates of gender equality in the policy development at University level.
It is to notice the increase in the presence of women at the different career levels, which – in the two more directly participating departments – is certainly due to the Action Plan, at least partially. Moreover, many changes occurred of an organisational, normative or procedural nature, which are now facilitating women’s access to leadership positions and work-life balance. It is first of all important to mention the introduction in the University Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 of measures supporting a gender sensitive communication (on the basis of the research carried out under the Action Plan on this issue), of policies aimed at promoting work-life balance and, above all, of new target figures on the presence of women in the different career levels.
Other meaningful impacts – partially already mentioned above – are the use of the Group Model Building method in the university’s academic leadership course, the development of the mentoring programme for women and men at Donders and the introduction of a course on research methodology with a gender perspective.
With reference to sustainability, no specific problems or constraints have been reported. Undoubtedly, the good relationships with the academic leadership of both institutes largely contributed in designing and establishing sustainable arrangements for the Action Plan or for part of it, especially because this allowed the team to find commitment in other parts of the organisation.
For the majority of the actions initiated under the STAGES project, specific institutional and financial arrangements have been identified to ensure their continuation or to allow their incorporation into already existing activities or measures. In this regard, a good example is the already mentioned development of gender equality measures in the new University Strategic Plan.
Even more important, from the sustainability perspective, was the establishment of the Gender Equality Committee at the Donders Institute and the creation of the Halkes Women Faculty Network. Both these new bodies are now becoming two important players in the promotion of gender equality conditions at RU in a long term perspective.

Dissemination activities have been described in the previous section, being them part of the results of the STAGES project. Moreover, they are analytically reported in the dedicated tables in this final report. It can be useful however to briefly summarise them here below.
• Establishment, maintenance and updating of the project website
• Establishment, maintenance and updating of the five websites/webpages connected to the Action Plans;
• Drafting and dissemination of 6 issues of the project e-newsletter
• More than 100 contacts with the media (including TC services and interviews, articles on newspapers and magazines, press-releases) reported by the partners implementing the Action Plans
• Development of a mailing list including 7,000 entries
• Around 130 papers, conference presentations and poster presentation overall reported.
• Organisation of the project’s mid-term workshop and final conference
• A large number of conferences and meetings organised at the level of the organisations involved with the implementation of the Action Plans
• The final Guidelines produced in electronic and paper copies (1,000) and actively disseminated by each partner, besides being presented in national and international conferences and seminars.

Under the STAGES project, a vast array of products has been delivered, which are potentially exploitable and/or are being already exploited either at the level of the STAGES project as a whole or at the level of the single participating organisations. All the products are individually mentioned and described in the overview table with exploitable foreground. Here they are summarised by general categories.
3.1. Guidelines
The STAGES Guidelines are the main exploitable product of the STAGES project as a whole, being they the result of the cumulative experience emerging from the five Action Plans carried out under the project and of the cross-cutting analysis conducted over implementation dynamics. The Guidelines aim to contribute to the process of accumulation of practical knowledge about the implementation of gender equality plans in scientific institutions. Their focus is on implementation strategies, through the presentation of the different solutions envisaged by the partners to achieve their objectives. The STAGES Guidelines are aimed at people working in a scientific organisation who, be it in the framework of a funded project or independently, are willing to launch a programme for gender equality. The guidelines contain 20 general recommendations, grouped in six broad fields of actions, plus 41 more specific lines of action, illustrated by 100 concrete examples. The Guidelines have been used for the preparation of the EIGE’s Online Toolkit on Gender Equality Plans, aimed at capitalising on the experience of the structural change projects for further disseminating best practices and support tools for implementation.
3.2. Research models and methods
This category includes the different research activities carried out under STAGES on gender inequality, which can be exploitable for the research models and methods they adopt. This category includes research projects focused, for example, on the dynamics of change activated by the Action Plans, the climate within the organisation for women, the professional contexts or the inclusion of gender in change management processes.
3.3. Exploitable research outcomes
All these research activities are potentially exploitable (and some of them have been already exploited) for their outcomes and the knowledge they generate about some aspects of gender inequality in science and technology.
3.4. Evaluation models
Under STAGES different evaluation models have been developed, starting from that set up for the evaluation of the Action Plans. Other evaluation models produced under the project concerns, e.g., childcare services, work-life balance, mentoring programmes, and women’s participation in funded research.
3.5. Monitoring plans
Under STAGES, a monitoring model for the implementation of the Action Plans for structural change has been designed and tested. Such a model may be exploited for other structural change programmes and Action Plan. Monitoring models have been also developed for drafting annual reports on gender equality situation within a research organisation and for monitoring gender equality dynamics.
3.6. Sustainability Plans
Under STAGES, a feasibility study for the preparation of the Sustainability Plans of the five Action Plans has been carried out. Such a study allowed to define an organised set of actions (a roadmap) aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the actions initiated under the project after the project lifespan. This process resulted in the development of a sustainability model and a sustainability plan template which is potentially exploitable for any Action Plan aimed at gender equality and, more in general, at promoting responsible research and innovation.
3.7. Courses and syllabuses
In all the Action Plans, courses and training activities aimed at gender equality have been designed and tested. They focused on, for example, equal opportunities and scientific careers, sex and gender in medicine, gender and research methodologies, gender and diversity, or gender inequality dynamics. These training initiatives addressed different types of actors, including top leaders, PhD students, and researchers. Structure, methods and syllabuses of these training initiatives are potentially exploitable, both for developing similar initiatives elsewhere (knowledge transfer) and for designing and organising training courses on other similar issues.
3.8. Proceedings
Another exploitable category is that of proceedings of conference and workshops on gender-related issued carried out under the Action Plans. They represent exploitable knowledge packages, which are already the subject of dissemination and exchange initiatives promoted by the concerned partners.
3.9. Toolbox
Fraunhofer-Gesellscahft has carried out an online Gender Diversity Toolbox, i.e., a catalogue of the initiatives implemented within the different institutes of the organisation to promote gender equality. This toolbox is going to be open to experiences made in other research organisations in German-speaking areas. The Toolbox is exploitable, both for such an opening to other entities and for the model underpinning it, which is replicable for developing other similar databases.
3.10. Procedures for data collection
Collecting data on gender inequality dynamics within the organisation has been a pivotal activity included in all the Action Plans. In this way, the Teams had the opportunity to define specific models of data gathering as well as specific procedures for data monitoring and reporting which are, in many cases, already formalised and therefore easily replicable elsewhere.
3.11. Policy briefs
In one case (AU), a policy brief has been developed by the team on gender equality measures, which strongly influenced the university Equality and Diversity Plan. This document is exploitable, both for its substantive aspects (theoretical approach, data and information provided, policy measures proposed) and for its methodological approach, which can be replicated in other research settings as a means for influencing leaderships.
3.12. Websites
Overall, six websites (one for the project as a whole and five for the Action Plans) have been produced. In one case, the website has been also institutionalised and it became part of the communication policy of the institutions. To different extent, all of them provides an exploitable model on how deal with and communicate gender inequality issues.
3.13. Structural change models
Different models on how triggering and developing Action Plans geared to activate structural change processes have been elaborated, under both cross-cutting activities and the single Action Plans. These models are extremely important as they can provide a guidance to university leaderships and other players interested in launching gender-oriented Action Plans. Partially, these models have been already disseminated at national and European levels.
15. Customisation of the IAT Test
In the framework of an Action Plan (AU), the Implicit-Association Test has been used for measuring people’s attitudes on gender. This implied a specific customisation process and a set of dissemination measures, which can be usefully replicated elsewhere, being a powerful tool for raising people’s awareness about their own hidden orientations on gender.
16. Models for researchers’ mobilisation
All the Teams tested forms of collective mobilisation on gender issues. In some cases, women’s networks have been launched, which rapidly became a real player interacting with other stakeholders and organisation leaders. In other case, a role was played by new-born research centre specialised on gender issues. In both cases, the experience done by the teams provide useful mobilisation models (often clearly formalised in the project deliverables), which can be transferred in other institutional contexts.
17. Models of communication events
Other potentially transferable models elaborated under the STAGES project concern the organisation of communication events with a strong symbolic potential, able to promote the image of women researchers within the organisations. Among these events, we can mention here the production of films on women researchers, the organisation of exhibitions devoted to women and science, and the establishment of awards for outstanding women researchers and the institutionalisation of special days devoted to women or young researchers.

List of Websites:






Michele Palma, (Director general)
Tel.: +39 06 67792430
Fax: +39 06 67792463
Record Number: 187835 / Last updated on: 2016-08-18