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Baltic Consortium on Promoting Gender Equality in Marine Research Organisations

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Baltic Gender (Baltic Consortium on Promoting Gender Equality in Marine Research Organisations)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-08-31

Solving the grand challenges lying ahead in the marine environment requires scientific excellence, which can only be achieved by harvesting the full capacities of women and men at all levels of research. However, as in most fields in natural sciences, women are underrepresented in marine sciences, especially in leadership positions. Despite the active policies and efforts of the past decades, there is a lack of progress in increasing overall institutional gender equality, and invisible barriers as well as gender bias still persist.
In the frame of the Baltic Gender project, eight scientific institutions from five countries in the Baltic Sea region have worked together towards the empowerment of women in marine sciences and the achievement of systematic institutional changes, particularly through the implementation of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs), over the course of four years (2016-2020).
In summary, Baltic Gender has been successful in creating high impact via its engagement with consortium partners and other stakeholders within marine science research as well as interested members of the public. It has also been effective in creating high quality and open access resources, which meet the needs of those who are assigned to or interested in decreasing structurally determined gender inequality and supporting women. The need to appeal to a broad audience (academic, technical, policy-based) and to provide practical and immediate support for institutional changes has been met in the form of online and offline publications (brochures, toolkits, reports, blogs, interviews, database), workshops, training sessions, a mentoring scheme as well as a variety of dissemination and communication activities.
Baltic Gender selected a set of quantitative and qualitative indicators against which actions can be assessed and resources can be allocated. Data for the indicators were collected twice from the partner institutions during the course of the project and have been an important source of insight and legitimacy. A review of the legal and policy frameworks in the partner countries was undertaken, followed by an in-depth analysis of the status of gender equality in the partner institutions via the indicators as well as questionnaires and interviews. Baltic Gender then produced a detailed list of recommended actions for the implementation of gender equality plans. Following these recommendations, the marine institutes of the Estonian and Lithuanian partners implemented their first Gender Equality Plans at the beginning of the second half of the project. The other six partners, which already had GEPs at the start of the project, have incorporated the Baltic Gender recommendations in line with their institute-specific timeline of GEP revisions. Baltic Gender carried out monitoring of the GEPs twice, once via a formative evaluation as part of the second periodic report and a second time via a summative evaluation as part of the final periodic report.
Baltic Gender initiated and supported structural changes via the identification and promotion of best practices from its partner institutions. At mid-term of the project, a brochure was produced with best practice examples of actions and measures that support equal chances, gender-fair structures and transparent processes in marine sciences; may it be in recruitment, decision-making or allocation of resources. Consequently, institution-specific recommendations were made to the partners on how to improve their structures. After one year, a first assessment was made followed by a progress report at the end of the project on achieving structural changes as a result of actions implemented in GEPs. A second brochure was published, presenting new gender equality measures that have been developed in the third periodic phase by partner institutions. In addition, numerous (>20) workshops and training sessions were organized in the institutions on various topics such as unconscious bias, gender dynamics in recruitment, gender conscious teaching and gender aspects in research projects.
Baltic Gender empowered women and scientific communities in marine sciences by bringing leaders of the future, decision makers of today and agents of change together in various activities such as leadership courses and informal grass-root meetings; and thus, offering numerous opportunities for networking. An international mentoring program provided early-stage women researchers with personal guidance, opportunities for networking and financial support for further qualification. A blog series portrayed the careers of successful women scientists and engineers as role models, whereas a second blog series displayed the experiences of female and male researchers in sharing the care of children and elderly in the family. Baltic Gender also produced support materials for policies that reconcile work and family.
Baltic Gender worked on the innovative aspect of gender perspectives in the content of marine research. GenderWave is a new methodology to sensitize marine researchers to if and how the content and outcomes of their research may be gendered. It is digitalized and contains a set of questions that trigger new ways of thinking. In addition, a handbook on gender-sensitive teaching was printed and provides a framework for lecturers in marine sciences as well as in other fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to develop a gender-sensitive curriculum and teaching practices.
The main results of Baltic Gender have been made public through the project website. Over the course of four years, the results of the project were disseminated via 2 peer-reviewed articles, participation in 13 international conferences as well as in numerous (>35) smaller meetings and local events, >30 articles published in the newsletters of the partner institutions (and their networks), and 12 issues of the project newsletter. The outcomes were communicated to a larger audience via Twitter, 6 press releases, several news items published on the websites of partners (and their networks), 4 popularised videos, 8 popularised publications, 1 exhibition and 3 communication campaigns. Presentations at 5 workshops and 8 events organised by other H2020 projects as well as the final conference of Baltic Gender supported the communication of results to external stakeholders. 2 different one-pagers communicate project achievements and results.
Baltic Gender launched an add-on initiative to prevent and treat sexualized violence on sea-going expeditions. This initiative provides hands-on material and guidance on this taboo subject and has already received international interest and requests to take up the materials.
Regular bilateral meetings were organised between the Baltic Gender coordinator and the high-level management of project partners to discuss project progress and sustainability of BG results. This has led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which ensures the sustainability of the Baltic Gender network and recommends the monitoring of the indicators via the institutional GEPs. Last but not the least knowledge transfer is on-going to new projects and newly formed consortia in Europe and beyond, especially in the frame of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) and will thus have further impact on the society.
Institutions participating in Baltic Gender