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EGERA Report Summary

Project ID: 612413
Funded under: FP7-SIS
Country: France

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EGERA (Effective Gender Equality in Research and the Academia)

Project Context and Objectives:
EGERA brings together 8 research and higher education institutions across the EU and Turkey, bound by a same commitment to the dual objective of achieving gender equality in research and the academia (1), and strengthening the gender dimension in research (2) by introducing sustainable and measurable changes in the organization of our research institutions. The project aims at fostering structural transformation, thanks to three key enabling factors: a) the strong commitment of their respective management structures and leaders; b) the involvement of all categories of stakeholders, including researchers, teaching and administrative staff, students, social partners and relevant policy agents, and c), the implementation of transformative Gender Equality Action Plans (GEAPs).

These plans were developed at the proposal stage along the same patterns, to address four key areas of action, drawing upon a diagnosis of gender bias and inequalities conducted by each implementing partner. GEAPs do articulate a structural understanding of gender inequalities and bias in research with a fully-fledged set of measures and actions, tailor-made to the needs and organizational contexts of each institution. They are structured into 2 broad thematic streams (Building Gender Friendly work environment & Mainstreaming Gender in Research and curricula), and 2 supporting streams (Enhancing the monitoring of gender inequalities in research & Training academic communities).

As it is the ultimate objective of EGERA, to develop a shared culture of gender equality, the issues of gender inequalities in research and the inclusion of a gender perspective in research are tackled in their complex, multi-layered dimensions. To this aim, EGERA gives a core importance to gender training activities, as a supporting tool for the effective implementation of targeted measures and their embedment into institutions and practices. With view to ensure the sustainability of actions, their transferability to other contexts and their continuous assessment and enhancement, EGERA has been thought as Community of Practice (CoP) for experience exchange and self-reflexivity.

Over the second reporting period, the project was expected to achieve the following objectives:

- Institutionalizing structural change in favour of gender equality and bringing a gender perspective in research, through embedding adopted documents and measures into the institutional framework of each institutions
- Supporting the linkage between the strategic mission statements of each implementing partner, and the objective of achieving gender equality
- Broadening the scope of awareness-raising and training activities of the project to all components of the academic community
- Addressing institutional resistances and ensuring sustainable top management support to the project’s objective
- Disseminating projects’ achievements towards academic and non-academic audiences (students, policy stakeholders, the media...), through intensive, multi-level communication and dissemination activities, with emphasis on STEMs, cross-EU-funded projects activities
- Providing actors of the ERA and beyond with valid instruments for implementing gender equality policies in research performing organizations

These objectives were reflected in 4 project’s milestones: MS8 consisted in a co-event on Gender in STEM convened by partner 9 (UVGZ) on M21. MS9 consisted in the release on M24 of the Antwerp Charter on Gender sensitive communication and of the Charter on Gender Sensitive Governance in Research and Higher Education. MS10 consists in a toolkit for structural change, of which a technical description was delivered on M24. MS11 consisted in three reports submitted by M36: the 3rd Gender Equality Report (D.2.5), the 2nd Report on Dissemination activities (D.7.6) and the 2nd Evaluation and Monitoring report (D.8.3), providing an intermediate assessment of structural changes brought by EGERA after three years of project implementation.
Project Results:
Over 18 months of the second reporting period, all but two of the 17 planned deliverables have been submitted on time – or with a minor technical delay inferior to 5 working days (out of 22 left until the end of the project), strictly respecting the content overview indicated in Annex 1. 27 out of 45 planned tasks have been carried out (or initiated) over this reporting period.

Under WP2, the Second Gender Equality Report submitted on M24 covered the issues of Human Resources Management, Work-life balance, Fighting sexism and gender-based violence, and Integrating Gender in Research and Curricula. It allowed partner organizations for implementing new indicators and addressing the issue of intersecting inequalities. Submitted on M36, the Third Gender Equality Report covered similar issues so as to measuring progresses, especially with regards to the institutionalization of actions carried out as part of respective GEAPs.

Under WP3, the Antwerp Charter on Gender Sensitive Communication in and by Academic Institutions and the Recommendations on Fighting Sexual Harassment (corresponding to D.3.4), were adopted on M24. They resulted from a collaborative work led by WP leader UA at the consortium level. It revealed a high degree of convergence in establishing principles of action on both issues. The Charter was consecutively officially endorsed by all implementing partners, and is being actively disseminated beyond the consortium.On M36, the Second Gender Equality Culture Surveys Report (D.3.5) offered elements for assessing progresses and changes with respect to the first GECS, carried out on M18.

Under WP4, Gender training plans have been implemented to a great extent, covering different target groups (including researchers, HR managers, administrative staff, PhDs and undergraduate students).

Under WP5, the Charter for Gender Sensitive Governance in Research and Higher Education Institutions was collectively drafted and had been formally endorsed and published by all implementing partners at the time of the submission of this report.

Under WP6, the Recommendations in Dealing with Resistances to the Inclusions of Gender in Research and the criteria for the selection of good practices were timely elaborated by WP leader UAB on M25 (D.6.3), whereas partners were mobilized to provide UAB with good practices compiled into another deliverable submitted on M36 (D.6.4).

Under WP7, two reports on dissemination activities of the consortium were delivered on M24 and M36, evidencing the considerable outreach of the project, including in major international events, and its capacity to contribute to set the standards of structural change in the academia, jointly with other EU-funded projects. Additionally, on M26, a Structural Change toolkit has been released, to be further enriched until the end of the project, compiling all relevant instruments to that aim.

Under WP8, the Second Monitoring and Evaluation Report submitted on M36 provided a detailed account of project’s implementation, focused on the further enhancement of the CoP, and the activities held under our respective GEAPs and GT plans. It showed in particular that several of the management and work planning challenges identified in the first report, have been properly addressed over the second reporting period.

Main results (detailed in the full version of the scientific report), were achieved in relation to the following areas of action:
- Engaging with gender bias and inequalities at the highest level
- Raising awareness and moving towards a gender equality culture
- Implementing new indicators
- Training people and transferring knowledge
Potential Impact:
EGERA aims at fostering structural change through the implementation of transformative Gender Equality Action Plans (GEAPs). To be operationalized over the duration of the project, GEAPs articulate a fully-fledged set of measures and actions. These actions do cover the most salient issues with respect to the recruitment, retention, appraisal and empowerment of women in research, and to the mainstreaming of gender knowledge across disciplinary fields: Enhancing gender (in)equality monitoring instruments; Building Gender-friendly work environments; Mainstreaming Gender in Research content and curricula; Training Academic communities.

EGERA thus intends to contribute to bring innovative solutions to the following challenges:

The leaky pipeline of women in research: Coined as early as 1983 to refer to the underrepresentation of women in quantitatively based disciplines, this notion has generated complex, multi-varied analyses in which gender norms play the greater role, in relation with work-family balance, opaque promotion procedures or differential access to research grants.

Addressing the glass ceiling in academic careers: Explanations for this glass ceiling in the context of the research professions are largely the same as those mechanisms that cause the leaky pipeline: different, stereotypical expectations shared by peer committees with respect to respective male and female career paths in terms of specialization, dedication, ambition and skills; a working culture dominated by long working hours as an evidence of full commitment; or the role of “old boys’ networks” in recruitment and promotion, for which increasingly project-oriented human resources management produces ambivalent results.

Non-transparent procedures and unclear career perspectives: academic excellence, although
promoting peer-reviewing systems as paramount in eliminating all possible bias in recruitment, does not always materialize in fair, open and transparent processes, as “old boys’ networks”, endogenous reproduction and tightly delimited disciplinary fields still prevail in many academic environments. Equal opportunity strategies to challenge a situation that primarily affects women’s chances to be recruited, promoted or funded.

(Women-) unfriendly work environments: Those are to be characterized by low flexibility with
respect to working hours, working conditions and working culture at play in the institution or
company. While some of these aspects are fixed in written rules such as contracts or internal
procedures, most of it is largely unwritten, drawing upon unchallenged consensus about what a typical working day or an ideal worker/employee or scientist should be. Due to the gendered nature of their respective social roles, these unwritten rules affect men and women differently.

From gender-blind to gender-sensitive research: A considerable amount of scholarly literature is now at hand to call attention on gender biases in specific research areas including engineering, medicine, genetics or biology. Addressing gender differences helps strengthening the validity of research results and applications by making it more inclusive. Similarly, in those disciplines where women have been traditionally scarce, making research more gender-sensitive also means lifting the barriers that prevent them to enter academic careers or to fully participate to knowledge production at every level.

Gender balanced workforces as a mark of excellence: Greater reflexivity is needed on the very
definition of academic excellence and it is our argument that a gender-balanced workforce and the attention paid to the gender dimension in research could be both considered as a true mark of academic excellence, and valued as such in recruiting and promoting academics.

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