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Practising Gender Equality in Science

Final Report Summary - PRAGES (Practising gender equality in science)

The project 'Practising gender equality in science' (PRAGES)aimed at analysing existing practices to support universities and research institutes, both in European and extra-European (Australia, Canada, USA) countries, willing to implement gender-equality oriented measures in their research management. Two different tools have been devised and disseminated as a result:
-A database of good practices;
-A set of guidelines.

The database of good practices was set up and published on the internet for public access containing more than one hundred programmes actually implemented in universities, research institutes and science- and technology-related companies to promote and make the most of female human resources. Beyond the description of the programme, each record of the database contains the evaluation of its results with respect to three main strategic objectives:
- Creating a friendly environment for women researchers in the organisation;
- Promoting the awareness of the gender dimension in science and technology priorities, design and use;
- Supporting women's leadership.
Enabling factors leading to positive outcomes, as well as obstacles, are also outlined for each programme.

The 'Guidelines for gender equality programmes in science' have been drafted taking stock of the results of the database, from where more than 200 examples of successful solutions to common problems are drawn. To help university leaders and administrators pursue the three strategic objectives mentioned above, the guidelines contains 31 specific recommendations and 61 concrete lines of action, completed with examples from best practices. Besides that, tools for action and methodological arrangements are suggested and advice provided to increase the overall quality of the programmes, i.e. their relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.

To pursue its goals, the project has been designed as an integrated effort, organised into four main steps.

The first step was an extensive networking activity aimed at mapping the initiatives implemented in Europe, USA, Australia and Canada to support women's progression in scientific and technological careers. A mailing list containing almost 1 000 programmes has thus been set up.

The second step entailed directly contacting all those on the mailing list and the administering of semi-structured questionnaires to the promoters of the programmes who have been willing to participate (125). A database was designed to contain basic descriptive information on the 109 initiatives that were recognised as relevant to the project.

The third step focused on quality evaluation. In this phase, successful solutions were identified among the ones the programmes devised to manage the problems faced during implementation, be they social, cultural, organisational, financial, etc. The perspective here has been that of benchmarking, that is, finding best ideas and isolating enabling factors for other programmes to share. A second version of the database was then issued, containing this additional information. Through the evaluation process, 42 programmes of excellence have been singled out, and 29 additional ones highlighted for excellent results as regards at least some of their features.

The fourth step has finally been that of drafting the guidelines, trying to make the most of the experience of the programmes and to organise the knowledge derived from their analysis in an easily usable format.

The guidelines have undergone a broad review process which has involved nearly 30 experts from Europe, Australia, Canada and USA. In addition, five national seminars have been organised in the European countries participating in the project (Italy, United Kingdom, Denmark and Hungary) in order to collect further comments and suggestions.

Both the database and the guidelines are available for consultation and download on the project webpage: http://www.retepariopportunita.it/prages