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Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PLOTINA (Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2019-01-31

Despite the efforts undertaken in Europe, gender inequality is still a widespread phenomenon in Academia and Research; cultural barriers and structural constraints are acknowledged determinants of the imbalance. Gender inequality and the lack of integration of sex/gender variables in research and teaching can lead to a waste of talents. PLOTINA project (GA: 666008) has been designed to develop, implement and assess self-tailored Gender Equality Plans (GEPs). It aims at: i) stimulating a gender-aware cultural change; ii) promoting career-development of researchers to prevent the waste of talents, particularly for women; iii) ensuring diversification of views and methodologies in research and teaching. The PLOTINA Consortium exemplifies the heterogeneity of Research Performing Organizations (RPOs) and the diversity of European and extra-European social-cultural environments, encompassing five universities (University of Bologna; University of Warwick; Lisbon School of Economics and Management; Mondragon University; Ozyegin University), one research centre (National Institute of Chemistry), two professional associations (Centro Studi Progetto Donna e Diversity MGMT; Elhuyar-Zubize SLU), one non-profit research organisation (Centre for Social Innovation), and one social enterprise (Elhuyar Komunikazioa). The project, coordinated by the University of Bologna, started on 01/02/2016 and has an overall duration of 48 months.
In order to achieve its aims, PLOTINA is articulated in four overall stages: 1) Assessment of the current situation in each RPO (Gender Audit); 2) Design of a self-tailored GEP for each RPO, to be performed from 2017 to 2020; 3) Implementation, monitoring and impartial evaluation of the GEPs actions efficacy; 4) Creation of a platform of resources that can be used by RPOs across Europe to implement their own GEPs.
PLOTINA has performed the first three stages and it is currently starting the fourth. During the Gender Audit, PLOTINA RPOs analysed the institutional contexts to identify previous actions and challenges on gender issues (organizational culture, teams balance, integration of sex/gender variables in research/teaching). PLOTINA partners agreed on the use of a common set of basic concepts (The Plotina Lexicon). PLOTINA RPOs carried out the Gender Audit to understand the organization peculiarities, focusing on gender equality and gender dimension in research and teaching. The Gender Audit purpose was twofold: 1) collecting information on the “state-of-the-art” related to RPOs personnel’s representations and perception, as well as quantitative data on gender related issues; 2) assessing needs to design the positive actions to be implemented in the GEP. PLOTINA RPOs established six Gender Audit Teams to guarantee a widespread Audit. To carry out the Gender Audit, PLOTINA RPOs adopted qualitative and quantitative methodologies, involving several targets (key-actors and decision makers, professors and researchers, technical and administrative staff) through interviews and focus groups.
The Gender Audit procedure was pivotal in outlining a Common Audit Tool, that other RPOs can use, structured around five key areas: 1) governance bodies, key actors and decision-makers; 2) recruitment, retention and career progression; 3) work-personal life integration and balance; 4) researchers and research: gender equality and sex and gender perspective; 5) integration of sex and gender in study curricula. Grounding on the insights gained from the Audit Reports, RPOs designed specific GEPs. The GEP's measures are associated to core or specific indicators aimed at self-assessing the progresses. A monitoring software was created to understand which actions could give the best results. The GEPs actions have been collected in the Library of Actions, a dynamic draft that includes actions on “Career-making and cultural change” and actions on “Gender-aware Science”. The promotion of career development is a crucial objective of the GEPs. Most of the RPOs included in their GEPs the introduction and retention in the RPO’s internal research evaluation procedure of the consideration of maternity and parental leave periods. The action, aiming at a more equal assessment, represents the first step to guarantee, especially to women, the opportunity to be more equally evaluated, since one of the main needs of female researchers is to balance private life with work, without interrupting scientific production. 4 out of 6 RPOs implemented actions to increase the availability of structured child-care supports inside the organization (lactation rooms, summer schools for children, supports for working parents).
Another pivotal step is to act on gender biases, for this reason the PLOTINA Consortium created a video, accompanied by guidelines, titled “Contrasting unconscious biases in evaluation and recruitment to promote gender equality and avoid the waste of talents”. The video was designed to increase the awareness of the evaluation commissions’ members inviting them to base their decisions on quality and guarantee the equal treatment to all candidates, irrespective of sex/gender, nationality and ethnicity, sexual orientations and disabilities (http://www.plotina.eu/2018/09/25/contrasting-gender-biases-in-evaluation-recruitment-professors-researchers/).
To integrate the sex and gender methodologies in research and teaching, RPOs are working on case studies. PLOTINA Consortium organized the international workshop “The Inclusion of Sex and Gender Analysis in the Guides for Authors and Calls for Paper Issued by Scientific Journals”. A workshop report, containing a guide for the inclusion of sex and gender in the calls for papers, has been published on the PLOTINA website (D4.1 http://www.plotina.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Attachment_0-4.pdf). Ano
PLOTINA had an impact at:
- the internal level of the RPOs involved in PLOTINA. The project allowed achieving a deeper knowledge on gender biases and an increased gender awareness among staff and governing/managing bodies, through its participatory approach. Specifically, the Gender Audit laid the ground for the structural change by engaging key-actors and beneficiaries. It was a key step to mobilize target groups (researchers, professors, technical and administrative staff). Finally, the Gender Audit and the GEP Design had an impact at the governance and organizational level, affecting policies and practices.
- the external level. The project activities had an impact on other RPOs. PLOTINA is very committed with the transferability of best practices thus the Project has created an open access online database organised on the basis of thematic outcomes. The PLOTINA database includes: i) Actions already undertaken by RPOs partners and the GEPs available in Europe; ii) the online Library of Actions developed by each PLOTINA RPOs during the project; iii) the PLOTINA Good Practice Guide accompanied by a Formative Toolkit for the RPOs at the starting stage in the setting-up their GEPs; iv) the monitoring software. The site has been shaped as a practical guidebook for implementing a GEP, thus it can be expected as result that other RPOs will use the PLOTINA outcomes to design their path to contrast gender inequality.
Plotina Pert