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Improving the gender diversity management in materials research institutions

Final Report Summary - DIVERSITY (Improving the gender diversity management in materials research institutions)

DIVERSITY aimed to tackle the problem of the underrepresentation of women in decision-making by fostering a more stimulating research environment in the spirit of the 'European Charter for Researchers' and the 'Code of Conduct for their Recruitment'.

In the first stage the status quo of women in research institutions will be analysed and reasons for their underrepresentation will be identified. To analyse the status quo of gender diversity in research and to find the reasons for the underrepresentation of women, DIVERSITY conducted an international online-survey in 2010 at European universities and research organisations. The survey concept was a joint effort of the team members of the partners: IFW, EPWS (former partner), WU Wien, UAB and UOXF. Over 300 persons from 10 different countries participated in the survey.

The survey confirmed the leaky pipeline and the general assumption that science is still not gender balanced. The quantitative data of the survey were used to develop guidelines and recommendations that aim to improve the gender balance at (materials) research institutions.

The second data collection (guided interviews) was based on questions focusing on the three aspects: Gender biases, good practices and obstacles. The interview questions were prepared by the IFW and UAB. After collecting at least 10 interviews from each partner, UAB analysed the interviews. The interview data supplement the survey results and provided the basis for creating new guidelines and recommendations to improve the gender balance in research institutions, too. It was found that written guidelines do not consider the possibility of applying positive discrimination, which could certainly lead to stigmatisation. At a given age, the evaluation of the candidates performance should take into account pregnancy of women and motherhood periods. Time and geographical availability cannot be assessed equally when comparing men and women careers. Thus, this aspect should be taken into account and explicitly written, if necessary, in the gender diversity guidelines.

In the next stage DIVERSITY supported research institutions to create their individual profile based on the principles of the Charter and Code. New recommendations and guidelines were developed to increase the transparency in recruitment, promotion and nomination procedures. These recommendations will be summarised in a booklet, which contains a short overview of DIVERSITY and its project partners, what kinds of activities took place, their outcome as well as the gathered information of gender biases and inequalities in research institution. It will be published in January 2012.

The third stage was dedicated to raise the awareness about 'gender and research', and different dissemination activities e.g. local events with high-profile speakers from industry and research and the use of media.

There have been various publications (flyer, poster) around the project and other media-related activities (project film) that contributed in sharing the project findings with the scientific community, stakeholders and decision-makers or the general public. DIVERSITY published press releases for the local mass media or the internet. The news articles were always closely related to future local events as well as the issue of getting more women to the top in scientific research.

In addition, 34 local support activities have been organised at European and institutional/local level including satellite meetings attached to international conferences to increase the awareness of the Charter & Code in the international materials research community as well as different workshops with various participants (e.g. department leaders, employers, scientists and selection committee members), where the best practices and positive actions identified were discussed.