SUPERA | Supporting the Promotion of Equality in Research and Academia✎
Owned by Paola Carboni . Last modified on 03 February 2022
The background and the needs
Still today, the way scientific knowledge is designed, developed and transformed in useful results to the society is influenced by the gender inequalities that affect our society as a whole. For instance, gender stereotypes can set a wrong context for analysis and male/men is too often used as a default mode. When the research methods don’t take into the necessary consideration the variables connected to gender, scientific results are impoverished and a lot of opportunities are missed. The research and higher education sector has peculiarities that require specific action to overcome this situation which we call a “gender gap”.
The main goal of SUPERA project is to implement six Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in 6 organizations from Southern and Central Europe: 4 of them are Research Performing Organisations and 2 are Research Funding Organisations. The scope of a GEP may strongly vary, depending on the type of organisation, on the institutional context in which it is implemented, on the main research disciplines addressed and on the type of gender biases and inequalities identified.
In general, all the Gender Equality Plans will help to articulate a deep understanding of gender inequalities, stereotypes and biases in research and support the inclusion of a gender perspective in research and academia. To do so, a set of measures will be developed, in order to address 3 main objectives that the European Commission’s strategy has set as priorities:
- Gender balance in research teams - Several dimensions contribute to the creation of gender inequalities whithin research groups and among the various scientific disciplines (horizontal segregation) buto also in career progression (vertical segregation). For example, society dictates gender roles which influence everyone’s choices; organisational cultures and procedures can be gender‐biased and constrain women’s career progression. Also, female researchers may lack role models, as well as incentives to achieve their full potential.
- Gender balance in decision‐making - Women are largely absent in senior positions in academia. The reasons for the current over‐representation of men in power and decision‐making are not only structural, but also grounded in traditional gender roles. The still very masculine image of science, the way in which formal networks continue to function in selection processes and the fact that the majority of high‐level positions remain occupied by men are just some of the elements that convey the message that there is no place for women at the top.
- Gender dimension in research content - Integrating in a deeper way a gender dimension in research and innovation content helps to improve the quality of scientific knowledge and the relevance of technology and knowledge transfer. In a word, it can enhance the positive impact of scientific research for the society as a whole. From medicine to economics, from engineering to architecture: since all disciplines have an influence on the life of male and female citizens, each of them can be dramatically improved by including a gender perspective.
Key action areas
In accordance with EU priorities, SUPERA’s contribution can be grouped around 4 key areas:
- RECRUITMENT, SELECTION AND CAREER PROGRESSION SUPPORT - This area regards existing recruitment processes at all stages, in order to develop specific measures to promote equal opportunities for both sexes. Great attention will be devoted to create welcoming and respectful working environments that recognise the importance of balancing professional and private lives.
- LEADERSHIP AND DECISION‐MAKING - The project will demonstrate that making governance processes and procedures more gender‐sensitive highly contributes to more transparency, accountability and effectiveness. SUPERA aims to institutionalise gender‐sensitive procedures and practices, not only through changing numbers, but also through increasing transparency in decision‐making processes and budget allocation. SUPERA will also target potential biases preventing women from taking their full share in decision‐making.
- INTEGRATING GENDER IN RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CONTENT - Thanks to specific actions, SUPERA will contribute to demonstrate how gender‐sensitive research improves the quality and relevance of knowledge and innovation. The result will be more evidence‐based and robust research and a contribute to pluridisciplinarity.
- CROSS‐CUTTING AREA: GENDER BIASES AND STEREOTYPES - Gender biases and stereotypes are behind gender imbalances and biases in research fields and academic careers, recruitment, promotion and evaluation processes; they also substantially contribute to the absence of a gender dimension in research. These biases and stereotypes frequentely appear as sexist and sexual harassment in academic institutions. SUPERA will develop specific measures to fight against gender biases and stereotypes and create welcoming and respectful working environments.
- A page dedicated to resources for research funding organisations interested in developing competences related to gender equality in funds allocation. The page includes webinar recordings, presentations and a reading list
- A collection of 6 gender equality plans developed with a participatory approach in six research institutions (four universities and two research organisations) part of the project´s consortium. They can serve as an inspirational example to others
- Tailor-made guides for gender-sensitive communication in research and academia - they include theoretical background and a practical section that underlines the main challenges of gender-sensitive communication, from language to visuals to the organisation of events
- A Toolkit on resistances to structural change in gender equality based on the collaborative efforts of a range of H2020 structural change projects – particularly SUPERA, GE Academy, Gender-SMART and GEARING-Roles.
4 universities, 2 funding organizations and 2 expert partners from 6 european countries. Different backgrounds and experience and a common commitment to pursue meaningful advancements towards gender equality.
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)
- Università degli Studi di Cagliari (Italy)
- Közép-európai Egyetem | Central European University (Hungary)
- Centro de Estudos Sociais (Portugal)
- Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (Spain)
- Regione Autonoma della Sardegna (Italy)
- Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (France)
- Yellow Window (Belgium)