Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia
Starting date: 1st day of the month after the last signature of the GA parties
Von Kraemers Alle 4
751 05 Uppsala
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
€ 390 243,26
Minna Salminen-Karlsson (Dr.)
Sort by EU Contribution
€ 354 529,49
RHEINISCH-WESTFAELISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE AACHEN
€ 287 683
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK
€ 455 812
FONDAZIONE BRUNO KESSLER
€ 483 645,74
ISTANBUL TEKNIK UNIVERSITESI
€ 347 970
SOUTH-WEST UNIVERSITY NEOFIT RILSKI
€ 248 352
Grant agreement ID: 287526
1 February 2012
31 January 2017
€ 4 290 431,45
€ 2 569 180
A move to better support women’s careers in science and technology
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENT
Grant agreement ID: 287526
1 February 2012
31 January 2017
€ 4 290 431,45
€ 2 569 180
Discover other articles in the same domain of application
Final Report Summary - FESTA (Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia)
FESTA is a structural change project which has run 1.2.2012 – 31.1.2017
The aims of FESTA have been twofold: 1) to implement changes in the working environment of academic researchers in the partner institutions in areas that tend to disadvantage female researchers and 2) on basis of the work done in partner institutions and lessons learnt therewith, produce recommendations, handbooks and tools to be used in similar endeavours all over Europe. The ultimate aim has been to encourage female researchers to stay and make a career in the academy and to create organizational environments where their competence is valued and fostered.
FESTA has had seven partners: Uppsala University (coordinator), University of Southern Denmark, University of Limerick, RWTH Aachen University, Bruno Kessler Foundation, South West University and Istanbul Technical University.
FESTA has worked with 1) Awareness raising (individual and organizational awareness 2) Decision making and communication processes (formal and informal) 3) perceptions of excellence (in appointment and promotion processes and in everyday research environments 4) daily interactions (in meetings and in PhD supervision and 5) resistance to gender equality work.
In their own institutions the partners have worked at different levels: all institution, faculty/division and departmental/unit. Depending on the needs of the institution, the different partners have addressed different selections of the FESTA areas of work. FESTA has affected change in all partner institutions and in most institutions changes have been built into institutional structures and processes, to guarantee their survival after the project.
FESTA has produced a number of reports in its areas of activity. These outline the experiences of FESTA partners in taking actions in the selected areas in their different institutional and national environments and the lessons they have learnt for the benefit of other gender equality workers all over Europe. Most of the reports include recommendations for quick reference. The reports and recommendations are summarised in the FESTA Handbook of Organizational Change. In addition, FESTA has published three web tools.
FESTA has primarily been a change project, for the benefit of practical gender equality work and gender equality workers, but has also produced scientific articles and has been presented in scientific conferences.
FESTA has had a matrix organization, which means that the partners have collaborated closely in different constellations. This is a strength of the project and its products: all recommendations have been arrived at on basis of experiences and through discussions among partners from different parts of Europe.
All reports and tools can found on the webpage
Project Context and Objectives:
FESTA objectives and contexts
The aims of FESTA have been twofold: 1) to implement changes in the working environment of academic researchers in the partner institutions in areas that tend to disadvantage female researchers and 2) on basis of the work done in partner institutions and lessons learnt therewith, produce recommendations, handbooks and tools to be used in similar endeavours all over Europe. The ultimate aim has been to encourage female researchers to stay and make a career in the academy and to create organizational environments where their competence is valued and fostered. In particular FESTA aimed at addressing the working environment of researchers in the lower levels of their careers, to make it possible for them to advance to the ranks of highest scientific expertise. By addressing gender issues in the working environment, FESTA would not only promote women’s possibilities of making a career, but also improve the working conditions for all research staff, enhance diversity in the research work force and thus increase the creativity and quality of research output on all levels of seniority. FESTA sought to deal with a number of areas which have seldom been directly addressed in previous research or implementation, in particular on the level of the daily environment of researchers.
Areas addressed have been awareness raising, decision-making processes, perceptions of excellence and daily interactions. The aim has been
1) in the first step to raise awareness of the role gender issues play in the daily working
environments in the different universities and departments.
2) in the second step
• implement fair and transparent decision making processes on all levels – all the way
from important economic decisions to those daily decisions that may seem trivial.
• change interactional cultures, both in formal situations, such as meetings or
supervisory relationships, and in more informal occasions.
• start discussions and re-evaluations of the hidden perceptions of excellence at
university and departmental levels and how they affect the decisions on what
persons, research questions and activities are promoted in the environment.
Analysing and dealing with resistance towards gender equality measures has been an underlying theme. The aim has been to develop methods for counteracting the resistance that most gender equality proponents are bound to meet.
Context: Disciplines assessed
FESTA was determined to work with science and technology academia, and researchers in all science and engineering disciplines, except 2.1. civil engineering, have been addressed by at least three FESTA partners. The disciplines addressed most frequently have been 1.1. Mathematics and Computer science, 1.3. Chemical sciences, 1.5 Biological sciences and 2.2. Electrical engineering. Most FESTA partners have had a backround in 5.4. other social sciences.
Contexts: Workforce statistics:
Altogether, 35 persons have been employed by FESTA, most of them part time. As usual in gender equality projects, most of them, 25 persons, have been women, but 28% have been men (10 persons). 11 of these have been senior researchers. In the large category “other” there are a number of persons in very different positions, from very senior to very junior, from department heads to students.
Workforce statistics for the project:
Type of Position Number of Women Number of Men
Scientific Coordinator 1 woman UU1
Task leaders: 7 women, 3 men SDU 3
ITU 1 SWU 1
Experienced researchers (i.e. PhD holders): 8 women, 3 men UU3
SWU 3 SWU 1
PhD Students SWU 2
Other: 10 women, 3 men SDU 1
FBK 3 SDU2
How many additional researchers were recruited specifically for this project?
5 women, 2 men UU 1
The diversity of the partners has been of major importance in FESTA. The partners have represented diverging national cultures as well as different disciplinary backgrounds and different organizational positions. Also the amount and nature of previous gender equality work in the different institutions has impacted the work in decisive ways. To understand the work and results of FESTA it is important to be aware of this diversity. The organizational contexts where FESTA has been implemented have been the following:
UU Uppsala university
The FESTA project team has been situated in the Unit for HR support, part of the Human Resources Division. Equal opportunity laws, guidelines and policies, equal opportunities representatives and officers, and organizational gender focus were already in place at UU. The project has tried to change the focus areas that according to well established research disadvantage women's careers. The departments themselves got to choose which tasks they were interested in. We thought it particularly important that they were interested in changing these processes, as change would be very difficult to affect otherwise. The institutional leadership on department level and people in different strategic positions in the organization has facilitated the FESTA work in different ways. However, the cooperation with one department collapsed when they got a new Head of department. Also the positioning of the gender equality unit within the HR department has had negative effects and subordinated the amplitude of the interventions to the hierarchical priorities within the HR management.
SDU University of Southern Denmark
Situated in the Dean’s office at the Faculty of Science, one of five faculties at SDU. Team of three members: Head of Dean’s office and two academic officers. From here the team has access to the four departments as well as to the University-wide HR and professional training units and the possibility to make distinctive management decisions for the Faculty, but not for the whole university. The team has membership of the University and Faculty Gender Equality Committees.
Prior to FESTA start 2012 the following describes the gender equality situation at SDU:
− A two-year period with a gender equality officer 2008-2010. Terminated due to lack of organizational and mangement support. Replaced by a collegiate Gender Equality Board GEB) with representatives of all five faculties. All joint GE initiatives at SDU are facilitated through this organ.
− Since 2010 SDU has hosted successful talent and career planning programs, running over 7 months. The first three generations were exclusively for young female researchers, and later expanded to include also young male researchers.
− Since 2013 SDU has hosted a management training programme, with a 50/50 M/F ratio.
− Faculty wide networks of female scientists – with varying levels of formality and success.
UL University of Limerick
At UL, the FESTA team was made up of senior academics from Sociology and Software Engineering, with institutional support provided by the Director of HR and the Dean of Science and Engineering and a research fellow with a background in H.R and Sociology/Gender studies. Since the 1980s, there has been an active tradition of work in academic gender equality, followed by organization equality initiatives since 2000. In 2012, the university became involved in FESTA. The focus in FESTA was on changing organisational processes and practices. The work packages on which UL led are (WP3.1) Awareness Raising and (WP 4.1) Decision Making and Communications processes. UL partnered on work packages concerned with Perceptions of Excellence in Hiring Processes, PhD supervision practices and Resistance. Overall 71 people participated in focus groups and interviews, 34 female; 37 male. Institutional resistance was evident in difficulty obtaining data and reluctance to engage with some recommendations.
RWTH Aachen university
At RWTH the FESTA team is situated at the rectorate staff unit Integration Team – Human Resources, Gender and Diversity Management. The FESTA work is, therefore, part of the university’s general equality and diversity strategic work and thus mainly directed at the policy-making level of the rectorate and faculty managements.
At RWTH Aachen University, gender equality activities were institutionalized when the State’s gender equality law (LGG) was passed in 1999. Additionally and on the grounds of the first phase of a new federal funding line (“Exzellenzinitiative”), the first Equal Opportunities Strategy at RWTH Aachen (2008-2012) was introduced complementary to the legal obligation. It primarily focused on the goals of equal opportunities for women in science and the promotion of family-friendliness. The renewal of the Equal Opportunities Strategy was a major task in 2016. So the focus was already set on gender equality when FESTA started. For RWTH Aachen University, FESTA’s holistic approach was very interesting. The leading question for the institution was “how can we create change?”. FESTA offered the opportunity to look into various fields of action. They included different target groups – starting from PhD student to professorial level – as well as different topics.
FBK Bruno Kessler Foundation
FBK is a non-profit research foundation, conducting research in the fields of technology, science and humanities. During the last seventeen years, after the creation of the ‘Gender and Sciences’ group by some female researchers in 2000, some initiatives took place with the aim of stimulating gender awareness in FBK. These activities include: collection and analysis of gender data; organization of scientific lectures given by female international top researchers and of mentoring workshops; the introduction of work/family balance actions, such as tele-working, summer and winter activities for employees’ children, flexi-time, car-sharing.
FESTA represents the first self-financed gender-related project. The strong collaboration with management has been a prerequisite for implementing changes. It facilitated the deployment of relevant available resources, competences and data as well as the positional power to propose and implement action/policies in the whole organization.
ITU Istanbul Technical University
With 2134 academic staff members, over 35 000 students, 14 faculties and 6 institutes ITU is one of the leading higher education institutions in the country. 34 % of the students and 46 % of the academics are female. Women constitute 37% of professors.
Since 2000, gender equality research and activities concerning women’s status have been carried out in the institution. ITU has also been a partner in several EU Projects (i.e. UNICAFE, SHEMERA, etc.) supported under FP6 and FP7 on the subject of women in STEM since 2006. Following the organization and hosting of first European Women Rectors Conference in 2008 the university established the Women’s Studies Centre in Science, Engineering and Technology (WSC in SET) in 2009.
In 2010, the promotion of gender equality was included in the University Strategic Plan and in 2014 new regulations for sexual harassment were accepted. Many of the academics think that “gender equality” has already been accomplished generally in Turkish academia and particulary in ITU. Therefore, FESTA team chose to define their aims as to create an awareness about the unbalanced representation of men and women in different academic fields and the management levels in the Turkish organization.
SWU South-West University
Bulgaria is a country in transition which has been experiencing radical changes for the last 27 years with diverse effects on all domains of society. However, gender has never been part of any national or institutional discourse and there have not been any gender specific/related regulations existing in the academic regulations and practices nor gender equality structures or activities. Thus, academic work as well as research excellence at the start of the project were considered gender neutral by academic staff members at South-West University.
Most of the FESTA team at South-West university consisted of high-level academics – deans, vice-deans and a vice-rector – which gave it a unique possibility to introduce gender equality issues in the framework of FESTA into a gender-blind environment. The team were also well acquainted on a professional-personal basis with many members of the target group.
FESTA tasks and results
Festa had a non-traditional set-up with 8 elective tasks divided in four work packages, and two non-elective work packages. Each partner picked the desired tasks among the electives, and contributed to the two non-elective work packages. These choices were made on the basis of the needs and possibilities at the individual institutions, and built the backbone of the FESTA gender action plan of each institution.
The products of each task were to be handbooks and tools to be disseminated at a European level. FESTA has produced three web tools, in PhD supervision (www.festatool.eu) Dealing with Resistance (www.resge.eu) and Career planning (http://proisis.lero.ie/festa/App/Consult still a prototype). Each task has produced reports with recommendations – some of them more handbook-like, some report experiences and end up with recommendations. Some reports are published in addition to the deliverables: a compilation of the results of the tasks are published in the FESTA handbook of organizational change. Two handbooks are yet to be published: A handbook of career training modules and a short guidance for meeting leaders on effective and inclusive meetings. All deliverables and reports can be found on the FESTA website (www.FESTA-Europa.eu) which will be sustained at the minimum until 2021.
The unconventional set-up means that the tasks were quite independent of each other and thus, problems or delays in any one task did not affect the other tasks. Task leaders, rather than WP leaders were the coordinating persons. Some elective tasks had only three partners, while the largest elective task, 6.2. had six.
In the design phase, the ambition was to do basically the same actions in different European contexts, to see how the results would turn out. Quite soon we learnt that tasks shaped themselves very differently in the different contexts. Some partner institutions had worked with issues related to the tasks, but their knowledge and experiences were transferable only in a limited scale. Not only were the formal structures vastly different between countries, but for different social and cultural reasons some actions that were doable in one place, were quite impossible to do in another. We even learnt that some key concepts, such as “gender equality”, “informal processes” and “excellence” were perceived very differently in different national contexts, which, naturally, affected the way tasks were conducted and their results. However, even for the partners who had long experience of gender equality work, working together with other partners in the tasks implied new insights and a refinement of their gender equality work.
We see this diversity as one of the important findings of the project, and our reports try to mirror it by representing the different contexts and their influence on gender equality work. The FESTA partners consisted of people with a variety of educational backgrounds and organizational positions. Most teams were small, 2 core people with some additional contributing individuals was a common model. The frequent skype meetings in many of the tasks were invaluable, both for discussing current problems and for general competence development regarding the issues at hand. Many task leaders had expertise in the area of their task.
As different constellations of partners were involved in each of the eight elective tasks, the task groups became quite independent of each other. Even if the timing of the tasks was considered in the planning phase, it became obvious that during certain periods the workload was quite high for partners who were participating in several active tasks. All partners, except SWU, that came in later, have lead at least one task. Most of the communication between the FESTA partners happened in the task groups, by e-mail, skype and six-monthly meetings in connection with the Program Management Group meetings.
As the task groups were working separately, the different tasks were also perceived as separate during the first part of the project. During the last couple of years the synergy effects became all the more evident. This happened when several of the tasks got into the evaluation phase – it was quite difficult to say what was the effect of a single task in the institution, as the simultaneous implementation of several actions was the main driver towards gender equality. All the tasks that were designed to have an internal evaluation conducted one, but the results of these should be seen as indicative, rather than definite. Evaluating a single action in a process of organizational change is difficult. Also, as most tasks ran shorter than the five-year period, their long-term effects could not be evaluated. Most tasks resulted in some changes in organizational practices (even if not maybe in all partaking institutions), and can be evaluated positively on this account. However, whether the changes are permanent and whether the changed practices also lead to the set aims of making it easier for young, in particular female, researchers to th rive and advance in their institutions could only be evaluated some time after the end of the project.
All except one (3.1. raising individual awareness) of the FESTA tasks dealt with structural and not individual change. Even task 3.1. could be seen as contributing to structural change: while task 4.1. dealt with increasing the presence of women in formal decision making, raising individual awareness made women better prepared to use their voice once they got into these decision-making bodies. Task 6.1. improving meeting cultures increased even more the possibilities of women’s voices to be heard.
Similarly, if task 3.2. statistical indicators, would reveal a gender bias in recruitment, task 5.1. improving recruitment and promotion processes, could take on to improve the figures. Even here, meeting cultures in recruitment boards could be under scrutiny. The 5.1. partners also found that in many phases of a recruitment process, there was a possibility for informal decision-making, dealt with by task 4.2. to promote certain candidates. Task 5.2. excellence in daily environment, also connects to 4.2. informal decision-making, in that many so-called excellent researchers get a lot of informal power. The webtool of task 6.2. PhD supervision targets primarily PhD supervisors, while the exercises developed in 3.1. raising individual awareness, can guide PhD students themselves in the final phase of their education into rewarding careers. And so on – connections between tasks abound.
Of the two work packages to which all partners contributed WP 2, dissemination, was a fairly traditional one. As FESTA was configured as a change and research project, many dissemination activities were directed to target groups with practical concerns in gender equality issues, such as decision makers at academic institutions or researchers in science and technology, in addition to academic audiences. FESTA used the traditional dissemination channels: webpage, scientific and non-scientific papers and articles, brochures and presentations to different audiences. In some partner countries FESTA was also well covered in general media. Invitations and suggestions to present FESTA results in different venues became more frequent during the latter part of the project, and continue after the project has ended.
Most partners organized a national conference, while others relied on one of the lessons learnt during the project: sometimes it is easier to reach and audience with a message if the presentation is part of an occasion with a set and secure audience, than to arrange a particular gender occasion which might not attract the audience that one wants to reach. (We have learnt that this is particularly true if we want to send out a message to groups that are not particularly interested in gender issues.) Thus, some FESTA partners presented the project results as part of a national conference.
FESTA has had contacts with other EU initiatives for increasing gender equality in research organizations: Relevant FESTA reports and tools can be found at GenPort and GEAR, the EIGE tool for gender equality in academia. FESTA has also linked to other GERI projects at national level and arranged common seminars and occasions. A prime example of collaboration was the co-arranging of the final conferences of FESTA and Garcia into one occasion.
The second common work package, that of dealing with resistance, used an inventive approach of self-reporting. The experiences of the FESTA partners themselves were collected and discussed and then used as a basis for an informative tool (www.resge.eu) on what kinds of resistance gender equality workers may expect and some ideas of how that resistance can be handled. Like all gender equality work, the FESTA partners encountered resistance to their actions at different levels and of different kinds, and the resistance work package served to turn this resistance into something constructive, and something that is useful for other gender equality workers.
Most of the other work packages started with the mapping of the present situation, an analysis of the results of the mapping, and discussing the results of the analysis with relevant persons or groups in the institutions. These feedback sessions were conducted in various ways and the aim was usually to reach a common understanding of what kind of changes in practices were needed to improve the results of the mapping. These processes have been carefully documented in the FESTA reports, to give guidance on how it is possible to work with this kind of issues – and also to help other gender equality workers to avoid our mistakes, in cases where the processes did not run as we had planned.
3.1. Raising individual awareness
To raise gender awareness at an individual level, specifically among early
-and mid-level women academics, research was undertaken in four universities, one each in Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland and Turkey, to understand the differences in men and
women’s career trajectories. Overall, 106 men and women at early, mid and senior levels in
the four case study universities participated in semi-structured interviews about their careers. The data was analysed and a range of themes were identified
which facilitated the development of a training programme and a decision support software tool (FESTA Strategic Career Manager (SCM)). FESTA-SCM is available at http://proisis.lero.ie/festa/App/Consult.
The career trajectories of men and women at early- mid- and senior levels were investigated to determine those factors which advance or impede a career in academia and a critical realist approach was adopted. The research sample included both men and women, based on their positions and their gender. Overall the sample included 106 individuals: fifty-seven men and forty-nine women. Cross national analysis of the interview transcripts was undertaken using content analysis, following which a number of themes emerged. This analysis facilitated the production of the competences, knowledge and skills required for a successful academic career in STEM. These competences were subsequently developed into the nine modules which make up the FESTA Career Training Programme and were also used to populate the knowledge base for the FESTA – SCM.
Overall, seven sets of competences, knowledge and skills were identified, which are required for a successful career in academia: Publications; gender in STEM – things you need to know; Personal resources and/or barriers; Strategic career planning (things you need to know and things you need to do); Visibility – locally, nationally and internationally; Networking and Skills. Once all sets of competences defined, it was possible to arrange them into the nine modules which make up the FESTA Training programme. The modules do not build on each other but can be used independently or in combination. However, the total nine modules offer a comprehensive career training programme. Modules are: Academic networking and visibility; Career paths and patterns; Career planning strategy; Publication Strategy; Women and negotiation; Power and politics - playing the game; Gender in academia; Institutional and individual support; and Work-life balance. The modules are designed to empower early- and mid-level academics and researchers by providing the skills and knowledge they need to accelerate their careers.
The FESTA Career Development Management System (FESTA-SCM) was developed building on already available software. FESTA-SCM was developed using already available software (aSPIRE) which was populated with the data collected from the 106 academics and researchers.
FESTA-SCM was evaluated in the seven FESTA partner organizations. Respondents completed an online survey, which contained open and closed questions designed to measure reaction, learning, behaviour, results and provided an opportunity for free form comments and suggestions. Respondents in all FESTA partners evaluated the SCM. Reactions to FESTA-SCM were largely positive on the dimensions: first reactions; ease of navigation; relevance of content; new learning as a result of content; act on the recommendations in the SCM; and recommend the system to others. Respondents were positive about the concept of the SCM, but commented on issues relating to content, technical issues regarding access, issues with the user-interface and made suggestions for improvement including resolving the technical issues, providing explanatory notes and ongoing support.
Future plans involve exploring funding options in order to address the comments raised in the evaluation, including rectifying technical issues, reviewing the content and provision of support as well as exploring the feasibility for broader commercial use.
3.2. Raising organizational awareness
The intention of the toolkit for organizational awareness is to provide information and inspiration on a practical and applicable level for gender and HR practitioners, who are in a situation where they know action has to be taken in order to effect change at different levels in the way organizations deal with gender inequality and imbalance, but find practices and examples hard to come by. The toolkit is based on material which represents vast
differences in approach, in concrete definitions of indicators, hypotheses and dimensions, data collection and analysis as well as who to interact with, when and how. These differences are to a large extent due to individual contexts, both national, political, institutional, sector specific and in terms of project situation and organization. There can be no toolkit on how to implement gender change in a one-size-fits-all fashion. Rather, gender monitoring and awareness raising must necessarily be adapted to the local conditions and objectives of the organization in question. The four different contexts and respective practices and possibilities have proved valuable. Therefore a relatively strong focus is placed on descriptions and comparative considerations of and between institutional contexts, practices, decisions and solutions.
The 3.2. partners identified five steps of the process of raising gender awareness, which take place in an iterative cycle. The mapping of the gender inequalities by means of organizational gender statistics  allows for the analysis of gender equality conditions and possible specific biases . Outcomes are presented and discussed during debates and dialogues organized with relevant actors, which end up with the formulation and planning of gender action plans . Related gender actions are then implemented, with the support and endorsement of the management .They mainly involve measures, policies and strategies to be undertaken if gender equality condition and gender monitoring in working environments are to be achieved. Once implemented actions need to be assessed and monitored again in order to verify both their feasibility and effectiveness .
Those countries which have a permanently established gender equality organization, as well as targets and strategies for the work on gender equality seem to be less interested in discussing gender equality plans based on statistics, even if engagement seems to vary between different groups and indicators. If people are already aware of gender inequality and imbalance, they will hardly be awakened by the indicators, and if they think that gender inequality is problematic, they will rather use the time to discuss solutions than investigate the tool further.
The raising organizational awareness task has developed recommendations that can guide universities and research institutions in different parts of Europe to work with collecting organizational statistics that are useful for gender equality work and what to be aware of when conducting dialogues and deciding on gender actions.
4.1. Formal decision making and communication processes
Three higher level education and research institutes cross nationally researched decision making and communications processes to explore their gendered effects. This report sets out the structure of positional power and the arenas of decision making in the organisations. Drawing on documentary evidence and interviews with decision makers and committee members in these institutions, it reveals the ways that organisation practices in relation to decision making and communications conceal the operation of power and contribute to gender inequality. Recommendations are made which address structural and cultural issues to facilitate more transparency and accountability in decision making and communications processes and to advance gender equality.
Qualitative research methods were used. A documentary review in the case study organisations was conducted, to examine those processes and procedures which lead to career-enhancing decisions for people in such organisations. The interview sample included twenty-five positional power holders in the institutions, nine women and sixteen men. The interviews were anyalysed with a specific cross-national method which recognised the different contexts and cultures within which we conducted this research. This methodology facilitated an in-depth interrogation of the practices cross-nationally.
69-100 per cent of all mid-to high level positional power structures and positions in all three organisations were held by men. There was an absence of awareness of gender, even while there was rhetorical support for involving more women in decision making. There was evidence of the operation of gender schemas and unconscious bias, with the overwhelming view being that women’s attitudes and behaviors were ‘the problem’. Some committees were exercises in approving already taken decisions. Ostensibly objective procedures for creating decision making committees has the potential to conceal gender schemas because those who participate on committees are unaware of their own gender blindness. Respondent’s accounts suggest that decision making by consensus is the norm across the three institutions. On closer examination, this is not real consensus, but a decision to agree with the power holder (the Chair) because of ties of loyalty; a recognition that disagreement is futile because many decisions are ‘pre-cooked’; or rhetorical compliance to avoid endless meetings and discussions.
Different perceptions of transparency exist in the three institutions and different practices in relation to recording and circulating minutes are evident within and between different levels in the organisations in Ireland, Turkey and Italy. Similarly different perceptions of communications exist in these organisations. Hierarchical top-down systems of communication are the norm, and a strong theme in respondent accounts is the absence of opportunities to communicate upwards, particularly in relation to objecting or complaining about decisions.
Changes to create more gender equal organizations were recommended at structural, cultural and individual levels. To facilitate the implementation of the recommendations, training programmes for decision makers were conducted which created awareness of the need for organizational change and which supported decision makers to create such change. Training programmes for researchers/academics were developed and implemented, designed to empower women at an individual level.
4.2. Informal decision-making and communication processes
Task 4.2 aimed at increasing transparency and inclusivity in the informal decision-making and communication processes in the research units and at enabling/creating an enduring transformation of the organisational culture favouring a more active participation of women in all the decision-making and communication processes.
The taks adopted a participative technique, involving the members of the case studies. A direct involvement of actors at the research unit/department level was crucial because of their high contextual knowledge, which is necessary when trying to understand the impact of informal communication and decision-making processes, and because of their ability to actively suggest and implement policies to improve inclusivity and transparency.
This need for participation also meant the need for a direct interaction of academic personnel at all levels with the FESTA team. This was achieved by:
a) Selecting a meaningful (but manageable) subset of focal units to interact with;
b) Selecting members from such units as informants of the research;
c) Interviewing informants on the internal mechanisms of communication and decision-making of each unit/department, by using a common framework, in order to adequately map these processes;
d) Summarizing the information thus obtained and verifying it with the interviewees in a second stage, so as to validate the information and to spur debate on possible changes (policies) to implement within each unit/department;
e) Discussing these policies and helping proponents in their implementation.
The criteria for selecting units varied across institutions, but the general goal was to select departments and units that offered some degree of variance across some key variables, namely gender composition of the units, and main research domain within STEM fields. A common frame for interviewing was designed and a selection of individuals within the target units were interviewed.
The 4.2. reports list proposed policy steps aimed at increasing transparency and inclusivity, especially in decision-making, based on the work done in the partner institutions. The proposed actions vary across institutional and local (department level) contexts, unsurprisingly, but they all share the same features of being 1) relatively simple to implement; 2) directed at generating clear, evident changes; 3) easily traceable in terms of progress, 4) close to the day-to-day practical life of the research units and their members.
Examples of positive policies identified by the task 4.2.:
- Sharing information about structural changes of units/departments in a pre-arranged way (i.e. mailing lists, newsletters).
- Preparing official documents such as meeting agendas and minutes in languages accessible to all potential participants (i.e. normally add English as an official language for communication).
- Organising celebrations in case of successes (i.e. PhD theses defences, obtaining large tenders, been awarded important funds for research projects) and propose leisure activities to reinforce camaraderie within the unit/department.
- Establishing a common free timeslot in the weekly schedule to promote participation to meetings.
- Developing informal strategies and open campaigns to promote the appointment of women in committees and boards.
- Creating institutional support structures (for example, to initiate the establishment of a centre for gender studies, a gender office and a network of people interested in gender issues at the university)
- Providing information about initiatives and solutions supporting female researchers from other European universities and research institutions.
- Transforming some currently opaque decision-making processes into more transparent ones (i.e. establishing clear, ex-ante criteria in fund allocation; detailing the required activities of PhD students)
- Continuing meetings with the units/departments to offer support to implemented changes which are underway.
The reports of 4.2. illustrate the way changes were designed and implemented in the target institutions detailing each step: the analysis of the informal decision-making and communication processes, the identification and implementation of policies, and their evaluation, following both a process-based and a result-oriented approach. The reports provide a set of lessons learnt and a set of recommendations to follow when similar analysis is going to be undertaken in similar contexts. Someof the findings are:
•”Informal” takes on different connotations in the various contexts, both from an ontological (the definition of what interviewees consider informal vary considerably) and from an ethical perspective. In some contexts “informal” is considered inherently shady, even though sometimes unavoidable. In other contexts informal simply equals quick and effective and represents the normal course of action that then is superimposed with a formal façade.
• Resistance and denial are often cited as some of the critical problems surfacing when discussing gender inequalities and gendered practices in organisations. The most glaring examples are probably linked to a lack of participation in the discussion/feedback sessions, but there was also a substantial amount of disregard for gender as a shaping cultural dimension within the scientific arena.
• FESTA activities initiated to collect data for WP4.2 had the side effect of sparking a high level of awareness towards both gender issues and informal decision-making processes at several of the involved institutions. These effects were much more vivid in institutions where previous exposure to gender themes was totally lacking or very limited. This effect was magnified in situations where a process of reflection could be activated: in many cases the informal aspects of decision-making were governed in a certain way (oftentimes coherent with a masculine, performance-oriented culture) because of a purely inertial attitude. By contrast, in other instances informality was managed much more consciously and interviewees had no trouble precisely reconstructing the process.
• The informal processes of decision-making and communication have great relevance in the understanding of the daily working environment. They do play an active role in influencing decisions to be taken as well as the behaviours and perceptions of the actors involved in them; avoidance to consider the “informal” means to not take into consideration input, strategies, approaches and discussions that are strictly linked to the formal processes of decision-making and communication and to the meeting culture.
• There are connections between the informal and the formal aspects of decision-making and communication processes. Not only the daily life and functioning of organizations are affected and shaped by formal elements (regulations, explicit norms, etc.) and informal ones (social norms, etc.), but these two dimensions are regulated by mutual interdependencies. Sometimes, formal aspects represent the front-side and explicit side of decision-making, most of the choice process occur underground in a very informal and implicit way. Other times, informal aspects precede the formal ones, in the sense that the former are often preparatory to latter ones where “pre-cooked” decisions are represented, formalised and approved by means of votes or of approved procedures. The acknowledgment of such intertwined nature of these dimensions is not to be taken for granted by various stakeholders in an institution or across partners.
• The adoption of a mixed bottom-up and top-down approach while collecting data and discussing them allows to involve all the relevant stakeholders in the monitoring processes and to gather different opinions and perspectives on a specific issue. It is strategic to be able to contact and discuss both with researchers in order to collect their needs and perceptions and to put them in relation with the top management in order to let them be aware of the perceived demands and have their endorsement. The collaboration of all the involved stakeholders represents a base requirement for an effective implementation of a policy.
• The decision to concentrate on the informal aspects of decision-making and communication processes and leaving gender issues in the background was helpful in identifying a few key issues in the relationship between gender and informality. First, it emerged from many of the interviews that gendered practices existed but they were rarely recognised as such, except in cases where interviewees had either independently developed an interest for the topic or had been exposed to such discourse in the past. On the one hand, this obviously hindered, for many of the participants, the ability to contribute consciously to the identification of practices that inherently tend to exclude women. On the other hand, however, concentrating on inclusivity and transparency forced people to reflect on the categories of members of their departments/units that were treated “differently” or had no access to relevant information, sometimes prompting a re-examination of current practices.
• Informal decision-making and communication processes should be inclusive, transparent and participatory if the scope is to build awareness and consensus. Moreover, they need to be initiated by people at the lowest positions of the organizations in order to support a bottom-up approach able to involve those people affected by the management decisions.
• Changes at the daily working environment level cannot be expected to be realized in a short time span. We thus recommend to recognize and estimate the adequate time frame for change and make strategic plans accordingly.
• In order to assess the steps done and to measure the intermediate outcomes, we need to identify clear and easy metrics that allow both for comparisons with past internal situations and with external case studies. The identification of possible obstacles and/or failures gives the possibility to adjust in progress the policy implementation process.
• Raising awareness activities are necessary in order to let relevant people become ready to accept changes, be themselves active in the change management and effectively implement new initiatives.
• Where blindness exists towards the relevance of informal decision-making processes and gender equality issues, it is necessary to start with mapping the informal processes, identifying the individuals with strong power (including the symbolic one) and auditing the gender distribution at the different units (i.e. faculties, departments, offices, etc.) as well as at the whole institution. For some organizations, the second important step is the collection of names and contact information of all staff, along with their positions and affiliation and create an appropriate system enabling an information flow which includes everyone in regard with certain tasks or responsibilities.
• In order to ensure efficient functioning of the information flow, an appropriate communication infrastructure involving both technical tools and networks (“hardware”) as well as an appropriate system of rules and procedures, roles and responsibilities (“software”) is necessary.
• Regarding gender equality, an audit of all institutional regulations should be done and appropriate changes should be initiated in including gender equality issues in order to foster a larger participation of women in decision-making bodies and processes as well as more fair conditions for appraising the work and performance of female scientists.
• Decision-making processes and meeting culture both deal with the large amount of decisions that make up the daily working environment of researchers. Withholding information is a common master suppression technique, one that may restrain or circumscribe one or another individual or group – people are unable to make good decisions when they have not had access to information about important issues at work. However, it is possible to recognize and point out the amount and quality of information, to request that everyone presents their thoughts and account for their conclusions and that deadlines for important issues are postponed (counter strategies). Individuals with formal power can also lead by example, for example informing all relevant “players” and including them in the decision-making processes (validation technique). In this way, work with changing meeting cultures to become more inclusive may also have an indirect impact on work to make decision-making more transparent and share more information, which in turn is an indirect way to foster inclusive meeting cultures where all participants have equal voice.
• Social lubricant for a better working environment increases inclusivity in communication: for example joint activities where everybody is invited so that to get to know each other and come into a community faster, which in turn makes for a working environment where employees have occasions to communicate and get prepared to talk at formal meetings.
• More individuals at the department/research unit than the Head have to be formally involved in the process of identifying and implementing policies.
• Policy setting is largely formal, but has consequences in formal and informal practices, routines, and decision-making processes. Beacuse of the existence of an intertwined relationship between formal and informal aspects of decision-making there is a need to both evaluate how formal decision-making is affected by policy changes and how informal decision-making reacts to such changes.
5.1. Perceptions of excellence in appointment and promotion processes
Scrutinizing excellence in the context of hiring processes at universities and research foundations from different angles and against the background of important rules of the “scientific game” it be-comes obvious that scientific quality in terms of excellence is co-constructed with
- gender and class privileges
- maternity and a care ceiling
- processes of cooptation and homosociability
- gender stereotyped beliefs of women and men abilities and traits
- a self-presentations as “scientific personality”
Thus, the current construction of academic excellence helps to (re-)produce the dominant gender structure in academia through structural and symbolic power that works in the scientific field.
The best candidate in hiring processes at universities and research foundation is characterized through a number of skills and traits that go far beyond the actually produced scientific achievements as such. The judgment of what an excellence achievement is remains subjective to a certain extent and has to be made “visible” by social skills like communication and self presentation skills as well as networking skills. The scientific achievements underlie specific evaluation procedures of quality through the scientific community that are by far not objective. These are accompanied by evaluation factors such as the care ceiling, gender and class privileges etc. that shape the fitting of the person and that remain unspoken in hiring processes.
Awareness workshops need to be developed in order to attract members of hiring procedures to think about these factors and to find ways to consider them in their judgments of candidates in a reflected and transparent way.
Gender sensitive recruitment and selection need both a transparent and gender sensitive process and gender sensitive criteria. Well-designed processes can be undermined by gender biased criteria and gender sensitive criteria can be manipulated or ignored because of problematic processes. Different gender equality issues are relevant in every stage of the process, starting before the position is even announced and continuing after the selection process has
• criteria can be gender biased. It is essential to check whether the criteria used have an inherent gender bias. If there is a bias, the specification of criteria should be reconsidered or less weight should be assigned to the criteria.
• men dominate most of the groups, boards or committees which make hiring decisions. At the same time, the non-transparent ways these committees are created is a significant factor. Gender balance is needed also with respect to external reviewers on these committees.
• the way the job is created, described and advertised can include gender bias: The job profile is a possibility to disproportionately reduce the number of possible female
scientists. The narrowing of possible applicants also takes place when the job is not advertised broadly.
• Contacting possible female candidates and encouraging them to apply is crucial in many systems. Systematic recruiting strategies that are implemented at the institutional level can support these efforts.
• a meeting culture that allows open discussions and active involvement of every participant can support a fair process. The influence of the chairperson on the decision making board can enhance or eliminate biases.
• ignoring or manipulating criteria creates a common procedural bias. Criteria have to be explicitly formulated, transparent, weighted in a standard way, and fixed for the entire process. It is important that only criteria agreed upon have an impact on the decision and are applied equally to every candidate. A change in criteria in the later process stages should be avoided as this facilitates committee members exercising explicit bias in the application of criteria.
• women’s care obligations are identified as a possible criterial bias.
• the handling of the interviews can also mirror a gender bias.
• after the job has been offered to a candidate, the negotiations about working conditions, in particular salary issues, can have unequal outcomes for women and men.
5.2. Excellence in the daily research environment
The reports on excellence in the daily research environment sum up the conceptions of excellence among researchers in three countries, Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria, the gender related problems caused by common conceptions of excellence and recommendations on how to discuss these issues in different organizational contexts. The main finding is that the national/institutional context is decisive both when it comes to perceptions of excellence and the possibilities to address gender issues related to them. Most researchers are well aware of the different requirements that make up an excellent researcher, in addition to the quality of research. In the interviews in particular female researchers also touched upon the effect of unconscious stereotypes.
The quest for excellence, which results in some groups and individuals receiving large amounts of funds, has gendered effects on the daily working environment, as the receivers of these funds are mostly senior men. The concentration of resources on these individuals and their groups influences the power balance at institutions and departments.
One part of the informal power of the excellent researchers is to choose their collaborators – sometimes even stretching the formal procedures. Especially for a junior researcher, fitting in and being liked by an excellent senior researcher may be quite as important as the academic record. From the studies of homosociality in the academy we know that senior men often unreflectingly tend to be more comfortable with other men than with women.
According to the interviewees, to be the excellent researcher in the end, you need to get independent quite early in your career. As female researchers often are perceived as less independent than male researchers, there is a risk that they also are allowed less independence by their leaders. Other problems regarding gender and the current perceptions of research excellence, such as the requirements for mobility and combining research with other duties, such as caring.
In feedback sessions the target groups researchers were more interested in discussing actions to ameliorate single problems than discussing the issue of excellence that has accentuated them. If people do not have a notion that excellence is problematic, they will hardly be attending events which invite to discuss the downsides of excellence, and if they think that excellence is problematic, they would rather discuss solutions than just discuss the problems. Also, few of the problems are new as such. Generally, researchers are not very fond of managerialist initiatives to change their work contexts, and thus, if the researchers
themselves, in their collegial bodies, do not have an interest or do not perceive it as possible to discuss work environment issues, also related to excellence, and to take action, change is not likely to happen.
Evaluation interviews can provide workshop participants one more possibility for reflection. This approach is time-consuming, as interviewing takes time, but may still be recommended at least when it comes to organizational key persons.
Many researchers see and acknowledge the problems with the quest for excellence, but who were quite despondent about possibilities to deal with the problems. In their view, if some researchers get highly rewarded in spite of not really contributing to or even being detrimental for their work environments, this does influence the research climate. Young researchers see what is rewarded and the “excellent” seniors have no reason to change their behaviour. Changing the criteria for excellence funding to put weight on, not only research as such, but also the contribution to the discipline, for example evaluating how a researcher has promoted junior researchers of both genders, is necessary for excellent research to be sustainable.
Ultimately it is the funding system that exacerbates work environment problems, many of which hit women harder than men. The ambitions of utilizing more of the research potential in Europe by engaging more women in research seem to be in conflict with the ambitions of focusing on excellence, as the concept is defined in the implementation of current European research policies. The present quest for excellence was not seen as sustainable for many individuals, but maybe not even for research as such.
6.1. Meeting cultures
The 6.1. reports contain lessons learnt about working with gender and meeting cultures in the different national contexts, with recommendations for this kind of work. A handbook for academics who lead meetings, with practical advice is still being processed. In the reports this far, the FESTA work with meeting cultures has presented recommendations based on the following findings:
• People who chair (lead, facilitate) the meetings are the most important element in the meeting culture considered as a dynamic system.
• When analyzing participants’ responses, it is important to distinguish carefully between assessment of existing patterns and idealistic expectations regarding important aspects of meeting culture;
• Even though the answers to questions when examining meeting culture would be gender neutral, hidden gendered patterns of behaviour or attitudes can still exist.
• Meeting facilitation is an art form – mastery requires constant practice and there will never be just one right way to do it. The biggest stumbling blocks are old habits and norms. Changing a particular meeting culture requires a continued investment of effort, time, persistence, diligence, many facetted approaches, trial and error, reflection and continued awareness, direct and indirect measures – and always with the task front and center.
• Working towards an improved meeting culture is essentially an indirect way to foster an environment where there is room for differences and diversity – including gender sensitivity. Thus it can be the backdrop for allowing each individual to be maximally empowered in specific contexts and situations where s/he is called upon to step up and speak up.
• A helpful approach to meetings is to view them as dynamic, communicative, interactive processes between people rather than merely as a checklist for how to achieve products or outcomes.
• There is no such thing as a power-free meeting – power and power dynamics are always present before, during and after meetings. There is, however, an infinite array of ways to work with the power at meetings that may empower or marginalize those who attend.
• It is important that management insists on improving the meeting culture and drives the agenda in the organization.
• It is important to take expectations of different meetings into account. Meetings are held for different purposes – information, decision-making, problem solving, etc. – and will require different approaches.
• To come up with recommendations on how to make meetings more inclusive, it is necessary to look more broadly at meeting cultures and actively work to change power relations both in and outside the meeting room.
• One necessary element in improving the meeting culture is to train those who chair and/or facilitate meetings. Embedding training in the context where the outcome is to take effect is a useful way to establish and nurture new practices.
• Everyone present at a meeting can support and enhance the communicative climate – much more so than what we usually think.
• Observations in meetings should be done by a fully independent observer. The very act of observing greatly enhances a group’s capacity to reflect and qualitatively improve its practices For feedback to have the desired effect, in terms of both positive and negative aspects, it is essential that there is a relationship of mutual trust, good cooperation and common goals, norms or agreements between the observer and the observed meeting leader and group. Positive feedback is not expected in an academic setting, where people are more familiar with and expect negative criticism. The surprise of the positive feedback combined with the effectiveness of appreciative approaches in motivating trust and learning makes positive feedback singularly effective.
6.2. PhD Supervision
The 6.2. task on PhD supervision was based on study circles and discussions with experienced PhD supervisors in six different countries, as well as discussions with PhD students. Extensive work on the body of existing literature on PhD supervision was undertaken. The result is a web tool (www.festatool.eu) from which the user can gain information about the different aspects of the PhD process:
✓ the crucial introductory and final phases, including, for example, recruitment of PhD students and transition into career
✓ interactions and students needs during the course of the PhD project, including, for example, fostering independence and good collaboration
✓ administrative issues around the PhD project, including, for example, career interruptions and switching supervisors
✓ supervisors’ competence development, including, for example, stereotypes and gender awareness and supervisors role
The tool is based both on previous research and the findings in the FESTA study, such as:
• The criteria when PhD students are recruited are often not transparent and leave room for gender bias.
• PhD students are frequently coming to an organization which is different from the University where they got their master’s degree and many details which they previously took for granted are no longer relevant. For example, unwritten rules on behavior or scientific ethics can differ between countries or even universities within one country. New PhD students may not be familiar with these rules and ethics
• Sometimes potential PhD students work as undergraduate student assistants on topics that might serve as a basis for a PhD. The transition from being a student assistant to PhD student changes roles forboth the student and the supervisor.
• Clarity about the supervisor's and the student's mutual expectations, roles and responsibilities as well as well-functioning working routines with regular follow ups help to prevent irritation and disappointment and to avoid conflicts. In some cases, switching the supervisor might be the best solution in order to guarantee that the student is able to progress in time. However, switching supervisors might cause anxiety, stress and isolation, if the student is left alone and the process of finding a new supervisor takes a long time.
• Each PhD student has individual needs. They derive from individual circumstances such as culture, age, lifestyle, and family status, physical or psychological limitations. Some may affect the organization of work. Supervisors get the best results with their student when they manage to provide the student both with personal support, when they have personal problems, and professional advice. In order for this to happen, the first element that must be taken into account is time. Supervisors have to have an appropriate amount of time to follow the PhD student and give them feedback.
• Supervisors who have power, such as being heads of unit, have a greater ease of access to economic resources for their students' research.
• Many female PhD students are aware of gender differences in working conditions, and can give examples of such. For example, they can notice their male student colleagues are more confident, regardless of their ability, and present material in a very convincing way, particularly at conferences, or that there are unconscious gender biases in group interactions.
• PhD students are on their way to becoming independent researchers. Independence includes a range of skills that have to be trained and developed over time rather than expected from the student from the very beginning. Male students may overestimate their own skills and independence more often than female students. Gender stereotypes may influence students ' as well as supervisors ' perception of creativity and independence; there might be a gendered view on who is considered to be independent and creative and who is not.
• Female PhD students
o May have less time with their supervisor compared with their male colleagues
o May receive less encouragement than their male colleagues, when it would be important that they were given more encouragement (especially when working in areas considered "malestream")
o Are more likely than men to require perfection from themselves and, therefore, tend more easily to delay or fail to complete the required work
• PhD students need to start building their academic networks. Going abroad during PhD study is one way of doing this.
• PhD students benefit from advice on career planning. Today, this is often a neglected area. Some PhD students get help informally from other young researchers on the nect career step.
WP 7 Dealing with resistance
WP 7, Dealing with resistance, has produced a web tool (www.resge.eu) based on earlier research on resistance and the experiences of the FESTA partners when implementing gender euqality. In the tool resistance was considered from the perspective of a gender equality project to suggest ways of counteracting it, for people engaged in similar endeavors.
During the course of FESTA activities in the partner institutions, an environment was created where changes to internal structures to advance gender equality were recommended in relevant areas. As the FESTA teams introduced key steps and essential elements of these changes, they encountered several incidents of resistance. The resistance cases recorded by the FESTA consortium and the analysis of these narratives gave important insights on the intersecting dynamics of resistance and the change process.
When analysing the narratives, resistance appeared to be a most complex phenomenon. Between the partners who reviewed the same narrative differences of opinion could be observed at times. The complex nature of resistance was reflected in the multiplicity of the recommendations it necessitated. It was not possible either to find the miracle formula to fit all cases or state what recommendation would optimal. In many of the cases structural strategies should be employed alongside interpersonal methods concerning communication and dissemination or networking and collaboration. In some of the other cases improvements in teamwork and methodology apprppriate for increasing the effectiveness of one or more of the other strategies.
Efforts to deal with resistance involve different levels of intervention with different structures and different results at the top and the bottom. Finalizing the process of change depends on the bottom-top combination of policies. Some interventions can be effective in a relatively short time while some of the others can only be expected to work in long term. It is necessary to consider both time frames as well as formal and informal processes to succeed. While support from leadership at differen levels is important, when the culture/people in the institution are not ready to respond to the demands of equality, measures from the top will be useless. Therefore, such inclusivity measures as involving more women and men in the organization in gender equality work or organizing enthusiastic kick-off meetings to engage the whole institution, creating awards, etc. for disseminating gender awareness are also important for the bottom –top combination necessary for dealing with resistance.
Change is a challenging process, which involves the interplay of many agents. Moreover, academic working environments have their own organizational cultures and structures which differ extensively even within themselves. Gendered dynamics in an academic work environment are not only related to the organizational culture but also to the social and cultural dynamics in general.
Based on experiences in seven research institutions in different parts of Europe, the web tool presents itself as a starting point for discussion and research on all the other possibilities in the diverse social, cultural and structural contexts. Although it was not among the expected tasks of WP7 in the FESTA project the handbook also serves to be an “awareness raising tool” by illustrating some of the “grey areas” in the culture and the daily life of academic institutions.
Five years is a long time for a project, but it is a short time for the impacts of a gender equality project to show. It is mostly during the last two years of the project that the results in the single institutions have become visible, and they seem to continue well past the project end. It can be expected that for results at a national or international level it will take even longer. However, some partners have been part of changing the situation of gender equality in research, only their own institution, but also at a national level. In those cases FESTA may have coincided with other initiatives in the area. Those partners who foresee wider impacts are normally part of greater context where something positive for gender equality is happening. FESTA itself may not always be a tool that makes the scene change at a national level, but it can be part of the change and its recommendations and tools can be used when change work is underway.
Partners’ evaluation of the impact of their work at own institution
Partner Design and implement an equal opportunity policy Creating targets to gender balance Organising conferences and workshops Improving work-life balance
UU 5 5 4 2
SDU 4 4 5 4
UL 5 2 5 3
RWTH 4 5 4 4
FBK 4 2 3 5
ITU 3 4 5 5
SWU 2 2 4 3
27 24 30 26
The table above shows how the partners themselves evaluated the effects of their work. As such evaluations are subjective and the extent to which an action is deemed as being successful varies between people, these figures cannot be used to compare partners. Instead, they can indicate which kinds of actions each partner deemed as being most successful.
The table shows considerable variation across the partner countries. For example, improving work-life balance of researchers was deemed as most successful by the Italian and Turkish partners, while the Swedish partner did not experience that FESTA had very much effect on that area. An explanation here can be the fact that work-life balance issues already were relatively well taken care of in the Swedish context. Conversely, FESTA had greatest effect in designing and implementing an equal opportunity policy, according to the Swedish and Irish partners, while this area was the least successful in Turkey and Bulgaria. One explanation may be a relative “maturity” of the Swedish and Irish institutions for this kind of work, while Turkey and Bulgaria possibly needed more groundbreaking work in creating gender awareness by conferences and workshops. For the German partner, creating targets for gender balance fitted well in the current overall requirements of gender equality organization, while the Danish partner observed that they advanced well in all areas, though awareness raising through conferences and workshops still was a most important feature. Thus, this table, again, shows that when starting points are different, actions on different areas are needed to push gender equality work forward.
Expected impacts at national level
The project has raised awareness about gender issues in the working environment, also in other places than the selected departments, and inspired some concrete reforms. Uppsala University is the first University in Sweden that has developed own indicators for gender equality and the feedback has been very positive. There are many universities that are interested in doing something similar. There is a national network for HR statisticians where the former project manager for gender equality indicators at Uppsala University shares the information of the tool. This network is now developing an indicator for occupational positions for all higher education institutions in Sweden, similar to the one Uppsala University has. During the project time we found that in particular this indicator is useful as a starting point for gender equality work and as a basis for contacts with the leadership.
The FESTA project has done groundbreaking work with informal decision-making and communication that can be the basis for a more streamlined methodology to do similar work in other institutional contexts. We have together with selected departments’ heads/staff found a way of working which comes in handy in the coming gender mainstreaming efforts, i.e. in addressing the inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels. The same goes for the FESTA task on improving meeting cultures in which a proven methodology of how to create a level playing field for all individuals and groups in the meeting situation has been developed. A Facilitators guide to gender-aware meeting practices has attracted great interest, since there is a high demand on facilitation training at Swedish universities and university colleges. We also expect the web-based tool for gender sensitive PhD supervision to make a great impact in the long run at national level, not least in view of the ongoing national evaluation of the doctoral education.
Even though FESTA at SDU is based at the Faculty of Science, our various work package activities in have served as pilot and inspiration for the entire University – such as our report on gender statistics, our phd-supervision study groups and our career training programmes. At both university and national level, the FESTA actions and outcomes have been highlighted as recommendations for good practice, including in the recommendations from the Taskforce for more women in research in 2015, established by the minister for research and education.
And wider movements such as insistence in national funding agencies that gender is taken into account in eligibility for funding, gender is increasingly on the agenda throughout the academic milieu – with the consequence that a number of the most hardened and male dominated disciplines have adopted as parts of their central tenets that they strive towards gender balance.
In Ireland FESTA worked together with two other EU-gender projects InTEGER and Genovate to influence gender in Higher Education in Ireland, as well as implementing the separate projects in their host universities. The combined efforts of the three projects led to the Irish Higher Education Authority inviting the Athena SWAN gender recognition programme to Ireland (funded by the HEA). In turn, the HEA launched a review of gender equality in Higher Education. Prof Pat O’Connor of FESTA was an invited member of the Expert Review Group. The review makes 22 recommendations for implementing gender equality in higher education institutions, including those which emerged from FESTA, as well as other gender projects. Other radical and systemic recommendations concern national organisations and funders.
One recommendation has been implemented by three research funders - the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board have linked funding to gender equality, specifically that higher education organisation in Ireland are required to have Athena SWAN accreditation by the end of 2019 in order to be eligible to apply for funding.
For more details of the impact of FESTA on local and national gender agenda setting, see O’Connor, P. Impact Case Study: Setting Agendas on Gender Equality in the Higher Education Sector in Ireland. http://www.ul.ie/research/sites/default/files/Case%205%20-%20Agendas%20on%20Gender%20Equality%20-%20Brainstorm.pdf
— Advancing compilation of statistical data by GE indicators in the universities at national level
— Increasing the female academics participation to management positions in academia at national level
— As two of the ITU FESTA team members have and will be serving on the Gender Equality Committee of the National Commission for UNESCO the impact of the project is expected to be sustainable in the activities of the Commission and thus at national “wider societal implications” level.
— The online toolkit on Resistance to Gender Equality in Academia (resge.eu) has gained a great interest until now. From November 2016 to the end of February 2017, the number of unique visitors to this toolkit has been recorded as 2011. In Research Gate, the handbook has been read for 56 times. It is expected that this number will continue to grow up in the long run as new gender equality projects will start to run out both at national and international levels.
The leader of the FESTA team has been asked by the Minister of Education and Science to help in elaborating a national gender equality policy for the academia acknowledging that SWU is among the most experienced and active in the field. Unfortunately, the government resigned some time after our meeting but the experts of the Ministry are still working there and they know about SWU experience and activities and SWU representatives are invited to different events regarding gender equality. Hopefully, when the ministry restarts working on gender equality policy SWU will be involved again. Despite the changing ministers the ministry has stable policy towards improving the system of higher education and science.
The FESTA team leader has been very often invited to take part in events where gender equality is an issue, involving media. National networks (some of which part/representatives of international ones) are also getting in contact with the SWU FESTA team to invite us in their activities and/or to elaborate gender equality initiatives or projects together counting on their experience and expertise (e.g. EURAXESS).
FESTA has been an academic project, in that only a couple of partners have produced any materials primarily aimed at target groups outside the academic sphere. There have been a number articles in the popular media, but no FESTA members have received particular media training.
However, there have been more contacts to government or other public bodes or policy makers. In particular the Irish team has engaged with policy makers in all phases of the project and even the Turkish team has engaged policy makers early on in the project. Three additional partners have directed dissemination activities to this target group.
The FESTA final conference, arranged in collaboration with the project Garcia, became a well-attended occasion where most important aspects of the FESTA work could be presented and mirrored by the work done by Garcia.
FESTA has been presented in several European venues: Gender Summit (2015), European conference of Gender Equality in Higher Education (2014 and 2016) and European Women Rectors’ conference 2014.
Below is a selection of dissemination activities that the partners perceive as the most successful at local and national levels. Altogether, FESTA has reported around 240 dissemination activities. A complete list (until November 2016) can be found in the final dissemination report, deliverable 2.5.
UU Uppsala University
–In June 2015, Louise Kennerberg and Nina Almgren, had a presentation about Uppsala University’s gender equality indicators at the EQ Network seminar at Karolinska institutet - a medical university: Subtle Structures in Academia (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeerLJsz7BQ).
–In October Nina Almgren and Minna Salminen-Karlsson talked about “Swedish experiences in EU’s gender equality projects” at “The national conference for equal opportunities for universities and university colleges 2015”. This conference is held each year and gathers different people working with equal opportunities in one way or the other, both as researchers and administrators.
–In November the same year Nina Almgren, Tatiana Arrigoni and Eva Luebke presented "Results from the FESTA Project - Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia" at Gender Summit 7 in Berlin. The topic of the discussions was excellence, both in the working environment and in recruitment, appointment and promotion processes in Academia.
–In December 2015, the University of Bergen in Norway was in the process of revising their gender equality plan for 2015 and starting to work on a new action plan. Nina Almgren was there to make suggestions on how to continue working with gender equality.
¬–In June 2016 FESTA, along with Senja – a Swedish EU-project network for gender equality in academia – had a national conference called «FESTA – Gender in research grants» at Uppsala University with themes from different EU projects in the field of gender equality. The target audience for the conference was primarily individuals from funding bodies and research coordinators who support applications for research grants, but the conference also gathered a number of female researchers.
– «The 9th European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education (and Research)” was held in Paris in September where Pat O’Connor, Minna Salminen-Karlsson, Liv Baisner and Nina Almgren had a panel about “Improving gender equality in working environments to improve gender equal careers: Experiences from the FESTA project.
– In September Nina Almgren presented a poster about “Informal decision-making and communication processes: Experiences from the FESTA project” at the “National conference on Equal opportunities” at Lund University.
SDU University of Southern Denmark
The national workshop in Denmark in January 2017 received overwhelming interest from important stakeholders in the Danish Academic landscape – so much so, that we are planning to host another presentation of FESTAs tools and handbooks together with the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education in May 2017, and to combine this with a first national gender-in-academia network meeting.
EIGE approached us in order to include FESTA’s Webtool for gender sensitive PhD-supervision in their GEAR-toolbox in June 2016 and we presented the tool on their conference in Paris in August 2016. At this event and at other, smaller, national events where the tool has been presented, the reception has been warm and interested.
UL University of Limerick
Dissemination activities which had most media impact include the FESTA launch in UL (6 newspaper articles), the launch of the HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Higher Education (5 newspaper articles, 9 online articles, and 3 radio items), and the launch of the FESTA strategic career manager (4 online articles and 1 newspaper article).
The dissemination activities which have had most academic impact include three published articles:
1) O’Connor, P., O’Hagan, C. and Brannen, J. (2015) Exploration of masculinities in academic organisations: A tentative typology using career and relationship commitment. Current Sociology 63(4):1-19 · DOI: 10.1177/0011392115574859. 195 reads on Researchgate
2) O’Connor, P. and O’Hagan, C. (2015) Excellence in university staff evaluation:a problematic reality?’ Studies in Higher Education DOI:10.10. 80/03075079.2014.100029 - 101 reads on Researchgate
3) O’Hagan, C. O’ Connor, P., Veronesi, L., Mich, O., Saglamer, G/., Tan, G., Caglayan, H. (2015) FESTA Expert Report 4.1 Gendering Decision Making and Communication Processes - 84 reads on Researchgate
4) O’Hagan, C., O’Connor, P., Myers, E.S. Baisner, L., Apostolov, G., Topuzova, I., Saglamer, G., Tan, M. And Caglayan, H. (2016). Perpetuating academic capitalism and maintaining gender orders through career practices in STEM in universities. Critical Studies in Education.
1-3 are open access. 4 is not open access, because no suitable and affordable open access journal could be found and the publisher does not allow placing the article in a repository.
RWTH Aachen university
Our most important dissemination activity was the FESTA national conference. On 4 and 5 April 2016, it took place in Aachen. It was embedded in a large symposium on future perspectives for young scientists that attracted both scientific and human resource experts as well as change agents in the field of equal opportunities from universities all over Germany.
Day one focused on ideal framework conditions for scientific careers. Prof Doris Klee, Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development at RWTH, explained several career paths for scientists reaching from the classic goal of becoming a professor to science manager or lecturer. Becoming a full professor in Germany is quite difficult with an annual appointment rate of only 4%. So support for the other careers is highly necessary.
With special regard to women in science, the second day started with a contribution from Prof Gabriele Griffin on the results of FESTA. Esther Berg, a researcher who works at the chair of Gender and Diversity in engineering sciences at RWTH Aachen University presented results of a project on careers in science. Completed by inputs from representatives of industry and non-universitary research institutes, the day ended with reflections on how ideal careers look like and if they can be planned.
Running one among a dozen stands, FESTA’s team members had the opportunity to present a poster and to have interesting conversations with stakeholders and researchers. Also, we disseminated our handbook on appointment processes and the updated flyer.
Due to its combined approach—having a focus on personnel development and equality, respectively—around 150 participants from all over Germany attended the conference which made it a big event and secured high attention also for FESTA topics. The symposium was organized jointly by the department of Career Development and the staff unit “Integration Team – Human Resources, Gender and Diversity Management (IGaD)” where FESTA is located at RWTH Aachen University.
The RWTH Aachen FESTA team took the occasion to disseminate our developed WP 5.1 handbook at this national conference but also at other conferences, e.g. the FESTA final conference in Brussels where the concept was presented and every participant received a handbook.
FBK – Bruno Kessler Foundation
FBK involved high school students in two actions (1) Festa goes to school and (2) Stereotypes.
1) Festa goes to school aimed to increase awareness in female and male students about the Gender&Science topic. 83 students were first asked to fill in a questionnaire aimed to understand their expectations of success with respect to mathematics and professional / family life. Then, they attended two events whose purpose was to introduce girls and boys to gender and science issues; the first one was the FESTA project meeting in Trento, where they listened to experts discussing about Women in science topic in general and about the FESTA project, in particular; the second one was a lesson at school, given by two FBK researchers about stereotypes and women in math and in science in general. Finally, involved students filled in the same questionnaire they had filled in before the two awareness events. Collected data have been analysed and presented at the 8th European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education (Wien, 2014);
2) ~50 students engaged in alternating training in FBK were involved in discussion about stereotypes. The discussion, chaired by an expert in philosophy of science, was preceded by watching a video by Bruno Bozzetto (Uomini e donne: quali differenze - Men and women; are they different?). Collected data will be analysed. Results will support creating more suitable actions for increasing awareness above all in female high school students.
ITU – Istanbul Technical University
FESTA helped to establish close links with EC funded sister projects GENOVATE and EGERA in Turkey. Representatives of FESTA team were invited to several meetings organized by Ankara University and Middle East Technical University which are the partners of these projects. Members from these sister projects also participated in the FESTA National Conference. This collaboration created a positive impact at national level in terms of visibility of GE initiatives and networking.
ITU organized the FESTA National Conference under the patronage of UNESCO Turkish National Commission on April 18, 2016 at Suleyman Demirel Cultural Center, ITU. FESTA National Conference attracted strong attention from the media and appeared in “Hurriyet" and "Posta" newspapers that are largely circulated in Turkey.
FESTA team members contributed to the establishment of a Gender Equality Unit in the Council of Higher Education and the Gender Equality Committee in the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO.
ITU FESTA team presented the results of WP7: Dealing with Resistance at FESTA-¬GARCIA Joint Final Conference on 7-8 November 2016, Brussels. The presentation also introduced The Handbook on Resistance to Gender Equality in Academia and the Online Toolkit. The session included a presentation by Lut Mergaert from the Yellow Window, Belgium.
FESTA and dealing with resistance was recognized by the team leader in the President’s Address at the EWORA Inauguration Ceremony held on 20 June 2016 in Brussels.
Understanding resistance through the lens of gender enabled the project to gain interest from several other sister projects, and the Task leader received invitations to give presentations on this specific aspect of FESTA. The work package7 thus helped to deepen the awareness on the “resistance” part of EC funded projects which was not referred to very often until the recent years.
SWU – South-West University
From 2013 to Jan 2017 SWU implemented 28 different dissemination activities including oral presentations at conferences (including international ones), poster presentations, papers published in proceedings of international conferences. The most important of them are:
Paper presented at International Scientific Conference - Leadership and Organization, 17/06/2016, Kiten, Bulgaria, title: Informal decision-making in academic institutions; type of audience: academic community (higher education teachers, researchers, policy makers, etc.); size of audience: around 300; publication in the conference proceedings: Apostolov, G. (2016), “Informal Decision-Making in Academic Institutions” in Leadership and Organizational Development, UP “St. Kliment Ochridski, pp. 165-173, ISBN 978-954-07-4129-1.
Paper presented at International Scientific Conference "Psychology traditions and perspectives", 01/11/2015, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria; title: Meeting culture - element of the organizational effectiveness; type of audience: academic community (higher education teachers, researchers); size of audience: 100; countries addressed: Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Rumania, Spain; publication in the conference proceedings: Topuzova, I., (2015), „Meeting culture – an element of the organizational effectiveness“, Blagoevgrad, SWU Publishing, pp.218-224 ISSN 1314-9792.
Presentation, 12/06/2015, Title: FESTA - Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia at the CMU 2015 Workshop on women in higher education and research, Osman Turan Culture and Congress Center, Trabzon, Turkey; type of audience: Scientific community (higher education teachers, HE&R managers and administrators, researchers, policy makers, etc. ); size of audience: 400; countries addressed: International
Paper presented at International Scientific Conference – Leadership and Organization Development, Kiten, Bulgaria; 20.06.2015; title: Gender and leadership in academic environment; type of audience: Scientific community (higher education teachers, researchers, policy makers, etc.); size of audience: 200; countries addressed: International; publication in the conference proceedings: Apostolov, G. (2015), “Gender and Leadership in Academic Environment” in Leadership and Organizational Development, UP “St. Kliment Ochridski , С. 2015, pp. 312-324. ISBN 978-954-07-3946-5.
Paper presented at International Scientific Conference – Leadership and Organization Development, Kiten, Bulgaria, 20.06.2015; title: Meeting culture and organizational effectiveness in HE Sector at the International Scientific Conference - Leadership and Organization; type of audience: Scientific community (higher education teachers, researchers, policy makers, etc.); size of audience: 200; countries addressed: International; publication in the conference proceedings: Topuzova, I., (2015), „Meeting culture and organizational effectiveness in HE sector”, in Leadership and Organizational Development, UP “St. Kliment Ochridski, С. 2015, pp. 829-834, ISBN 978-954-07-3946-5.
Article published in the national weekly newspaper, 17/10/2013; title: Women have their proper place in science; AzBuki Publishing, Ministry of Education and Science, Sofia, Bulgaria.
List of Websites:
Grant agreement ID: 287526
1 February 2012
31 January 2017
€ 4 290 431,45
€ 2 569 180
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 287526
1 February 2012
31 January 2017
€ 4 290 431,45
€ 2 569 180
Grant agreement ID: 287526
1 February 2012
31 January 2017
€ 4 290 431,45
€ 2 569 180