As previously announced on our Social Media, on the 20th of January the LeTSGEPs consortium was very happy to present the 3rd International Stakeholder Workshop in Barcelona and in hybrid mode. The workshop, beautifully organized and led by our dear partner ICM/CSIC, focused on a topic issue for Gender Equality Plans and Gender Budgeting in RPOs: the Gender dimension in research content and increase in the quality and societal relevance of produced knowledge, technologies, and innovations.
Il turned out to be a great success, with 85 participants on site and more than 160 viewers on line: a clue to the increasing interest of the research community on this field.
The welcome session accounted with the participation of:
- Valentí Sallarés, the ICM director, that welcomed the participants, and underlined the ICM’s commitment to equality and the important impulse given by the European project LeTSGEPs.
- Carmen Mayoral, vice president of the CSIC’s Women and Science Commission, that made a brief presentation of the CSIC, gave some key figures on the representation of women and men in the institution and introduced the two existing structures in relation to the promotion of equality, the Women and Science Commission and the Equality Commission.
- Tindara Addabbo, Full Professor at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and Horizon 2020 LeTSGEPs Project Coordinator, who elaborated more on the activities, achievements, challenges and future prospects of the LeTSGEPs Project. This presentation helped participants to get better acquainted with the Project’s background.
- Silvia Abad, Project Officer of LeTSGEPs at the Research Executive Agency, that underlined the commitment of the EC with gender equality and had words of support and recognition for the achievements of the LeTSGEPs project.
The event then explored the issue thanks to three 3 main presentations that outlined different perspectives, each of them contributing to highlight different aspects but with a mutual enrichment:
Aleksandra Drecun, member of the MISANU RRI Council, a LeTSGEPs partner, centred her intervention on Gender and research in the European framework. She reminded the persisting gender gaps present in the research sector and the need for specific actions to overcome them. She also underlined the European Commission commitment with the promotion of gender equality in research and innovation, and how it has its reflex in the European Commission Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025 (which sets out the Commission’s commitment to equality across all EU policies), and also reaffirmed in its main research funding instrument, Horizon Europe.
Pat O’Connor, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Limerick (Ireland), gave a lecture entitled Gendered power is irrelevant in higher education institutions and other research performing organisations. Her speech particularly focused on gendered power and its indicators at a structural and cultural level, highlighting the legitimating discourses that obscure that power including those around excellence, choice, biological essentialism, and organisational gender neutrality. She also introduced us to different manifestations of institutional resistance to gender equality, from denial of problem to failure to undertake substantive change or actions to dismantle changes that have been achieved. Finally, she raised the question of whether change is possible, and she concluded that this change is difficult but possible.
Helena Valve, from Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, introduced us the GenderWave tool, designed under the Horizon 2020 project Baltic Gender. This tool was designed to support incorporation of gender perspectives into marine research and innovation projects (but not limited to). She remained that research can have gendered impacts (there is growing evidence) and that it cannot be ignored by researchers and practitioners.
In many fields of knowledge, the sex variable and the gender dimension are still not sufficiently considered. There is serious risk that “neutral” research and innovation, being sex and/or gender blind, may have biased results that affect women and men differently by not considering their diversity.
The presentations led to significant reflection and dialogue between the speakers and the participants, which made it possible to establish the following conclusions as the main ones:
- It is a key challenge for the RPO to meet the new EC demands. Most of our organizations are immerse in the implementation of GEPs aimed to leading systemic institutional change. This change should be structural, sustainable, and permanent to achieve true gender equality.
- As structural barriers to gender equality in research and innovation organizations persist (from women under-representation in most STEM fields, to lack of gender balance in research groups, persistence of vertical and horizontal segregation or significant gender gaps in access to research funds), and there is still much work to be done.
- No research, in any field, should be gender blind. If relevant gender issues are missed or poorly addressed, research results will be partial and potentially biased. Gender can be an important factor in research excellence. The integration of gender dimension in research needs to be addressed by staff with appropriate skills and competencies and adequate tools but that also requires institutional commitment (and action) to gender equality.
Once again, International events, like this one, have proven to be a privileged space for the exchange of knowledge and good practices around key issues on gender equality and the gender dimension in research, and for strengthening networking and synergies between RPOs.
For those who missed the event, the full recording is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqLY7uRETMM