Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FESTA Report Summary

Project ID: 287526
Funded under: FP7-SIS
Country: Sweden

Periodic Report Summary 3 - FESTA (Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia)

Project Context and Objectives:
The general objectives for FESTA, according to the Description of Work are: “The FESTA project will improve the daily working environments of female researchers, in particular in the first stages of their careers. We will work on organizational culture and on the micro-politics in the daily working environments of researchers. The effects will first and foremost be seen in the increased work satisfaction of female researchers and their increased influence in decision making processes, but also in different material indicators (salaries, benefits, gendered division of work etc). In the long run such effects will result in the increased recruitment and retention of female researchers, as well as their advancement to the highest levels of the academic hierarchy.”
The objectives of the first reporting period were primarily to prepare the ground for implementation actions, by collecting different kinds of data to inform our implementation work. The actual implementation started during the second reporting period and is still ongoing. During reporting period 2 we started implementing changes in FESTA’s action areas, based on the information collected during period 1.
To initiate sustaining change, our primary approach during period 2 has been to establish good working collaborations with the institutions rather than work on the institutions (which would mean that once FESTA has ended, the work also ends) or against the institutions (which would create resistance). During RP 2 we mainly disseminated the results of our mapping of the baseline situation, both nationally, and internationally.
Compared to most other FP7 Gender and science projects, FESTA is more collaborative, in that each task in the individual action plans at our institutions is closely connected to a similar task at two or more other institutions. Each partner interacts constantly both with the target group on different organizational levels at their own institution and with project partners.
During RP 3 some of the tasks have been finished and evaluated, and we have started to fulfil our main task: produce tools and recommendations for gender equality work at an institutional level. A number of implementation tasks are still ongoing.
Parallel to our production of recommendations and tools, activities for disseminating them nationally and internationally have been increasingly important. Nationally, most of the partners have conducted a national conference and FESTA partners have presented results, recommendations and tools in a number of national arenas and international conferences, as well as scientific articles.
We have intensified collaboration with our sister projects. One concrete outcome is the initiation and planning of our final conference together with the project Garcia.
Locally, during this third period, the objective has been to gradually move from implementing and trying out actions to making successful FESTA actions permanent. This has happened in different ways and met different challenges in different partner institutions, depending on the organizational context
As we are approaching the final phase of our project, we are discussing possibilities to continue working together in one form or another. Even when solidifying our actions in our institutions, we believe that there is much more to be done as a continuation of FESTA and that many of us want to continue to do it together.

Project Results:
During RP3 the work has, overall, progressed according to plan. Some unexpected changes in staffing have caused stressful situations in some tasks and institutions, but generally we have been able to solve them. The workload has constantly been high for most of the partners; our set-up of the project with lots of collaboration between partners, in addition to the local implementation work, takes its toll.
The resistance we face changes somewhat when we move from implementing actions to working to get them integrated in the organizational structures. In addition to more or less open and active resistance in some cases, we also increasingly encounter passive structural resistance. Having a possibility to analyse resistance even in this phase, helps us to understand the particular problems of doing gender equality work in the form of projects.
We have made FESTA actions known in various institutional arenas, we have engaged organizational actors to promote them and we have seized opportunities to integrate FESTA in different organizational initiatives and changes taking place in our institutions.
While our first deliverables mainly dealt with analysing different dimensions of the present situation of gender equality in our institutions, the deliverables produced during RP3 have progressed to describe the variety of implementation processes – giving the readers in different parts of Europe different contexts to relate to. Most importantly, they provide the readers/users with concrete recommendations, based on our lessons learnt for working with this kind of organizational actions: how to ensure more gender equal appointment and promotion processes, how to reconcile the concept of excellence with its negative aspects for gender equality, how to create and present organizational statistics to raise awareness of the gender equality situation at an institution, and how to conduct gender aware PhD supervision. Task 3.1., raising individual awareness, has developed a web tool for career advice for young female researchers and, in addition, training modules regarding different aspects of career enhancement, to be used in group trainings with a facilitator. Task 3.2., raising organizational awareness, has implemented and evaluated the second part of the task: not only collecting but finding effective ways to present statistical indicators to raise awareness. Task 4.1. formal decision making and communication processes, has formulated recommendations which have, to different degrees, been implemented in the partaking institutions. Working with informal decision making, task 4.2. monitored the actions that the institutional actors have agreed to implement. Task 5.2. gender and excellence in the daily working environment evaluated the possibilities to introduce measures to reconcile excellence and gender equality at local level. After submitting the deliverable 6.2. in time, the partners in task 6.1., improving meeting cultures, have been working on a handbook on leading gender aware meetings in academic environments, to appear in the autumn of 2016. Task 6.2. conducted a number of mutual learning occasions for PhD supervisors in the partner institutions. Focus group interviews with PhD students were also conducted. On basis of these data and previous research, the 6.2. task force has developed an interactive web tool. WP7, working with resistance, has finished collecting and analysing resistance stories and is in the process of creating both a web tool and a report on our experiences of how to handle resistance.

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

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

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

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

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

FESTA will add value by producing operational and implementation handbooks. Common themes identified (awareness rising, gendering decision-making and communication processes, identification of hidden assumptions of excellence, meeting cultures, resistance) across partner countries will enable common actions and solutions. These common solutions will be recorded and transformed to toolkits and guidelines, from which those who are doing gender equality work can pick up a tool that corresponds to the issues they see as important in their environment and possible to address.
Because FESTA works on implementing the same measures in different European contexts, one of the main results will be an analysis of how different national contexts facilitate and obstruct gender equality work in different ways.

An important contribution is the handbook on resistance, presenting examples and experiences of dealing with resistance in the context of gender equality work in the daily working environments in different parts of Europe.

During the third reporting period, a number of public deliverables in the form of recommendations and a web tool have been produced and disseminated in different venues. Locally, the FESTA partner teams have worked to make the effects of the project permanent in the structures and cultures of the partner institutions.

List of Websites:


Minna Salminen-Karlsson, (Gender equality specialist)
Tel.: +46 18 471 1511
Record Number: 193362 / Last updated on: 2017-01-18
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