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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SUPERA (Supporting the Promotion of Equality in Research and Academia)


Still today, the way scientific knowledge is produced, applied and translated to the society is not free from the global and structural system that produces gender inequalities by organising men and women in hierarchically different roles. Universities and Research Funding...


Still today, the way scientific knowledge is produced, applied and translated to the society is not free from the global and structural system that produces gender inequalities by organising men and women in hierarchically different roles. Universities and Research Funding Organisations reproduce those inequalities, activities and ways of functioning. Evidence shows that research performance is limited by the perpetuation of direct and indirect sex and gender biases and discrimination and that promoting gender equality contributes to achieving excellence and efficiency.
The European Structural Change approach aims at removing the obstacles to gender equality that are inherent in the research system itself, and at adapting institutional practices. In the specific context of research organisations and higher education institutions, the European Commission considers Gender Equality Plans as key tools for structural change to articulate a strategic view for achieving gender equality.
Research organisations and Higher Education institutions have a crucially important role to play in addressing gender inequality, not only for the benefit of their own ecosystem, but to contribute to progress in wider society, as they are a reference for educating and guiding citizenship.
The main aim of the SUPERA project is to implement six Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) to articulate a structural understanding of gender inequalities, stereotypes and biases in research. Through a holistic set of measures, gender equality is conceived as a cross-cutting issue which should be tackled in its complex, multi-layered dimensions through these plans. The six GEPs will be implemented in two different types of organisations: 4 Universities as Research Performing Organisations (RPO) –Central European University, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidade de Coimbra, Università degli Studi di Cagliari- and 2 Research Funding Organisations (RFO) –Regione Autonoma della Sardegna and Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities-.
SUPERA addressed the following key areas:
Recruitment, selection and career progression
Leadership and decision-making.
Integrating gender in research and education content
Fighting against gender biases and stereotypes and sexual harassment.
The SUPERA main goal is divided into 5 specific objectives:
Specific Objective 1: Identify and tackle gender inequalities in SUPERA’s key areas and contribute to the inclusion of a gender perspective in research and in Higher Education Institutions.
Specific Objective 2: Review and adapt procedures and criteria used in public calls for Research, Development and Innovation and improve integration of the gender dimension in the to-be-funded proposals through the implementation of Gender Equality Plans in two RFOs.
Specific Objective 3: Tackle the complexity and multi-layered process of GEP implementation through innovative solutions and tools.
Specific Objective 4: Foster experience exchange and mutual learning between RPOs and RFOs.
Specific Objective 5: Contribute to the long-term sustainability of all developed initiatives in future scenarios within academia and research through the development of innovative gender mainstreaming structures

Work performed

During the first 15 months of the project, the foundations of a coordination, management and mutual learning structure have been laid. As part of WP2, a Project Management Plan has been designed, and all relevant information uploaded in an online collaboration and storage system that ensures full compliance with Data Protection requirements. The Kick-Off Meeting and two Consortium Follow-Up Meetings were organised. These meetings have been prepared with participatory methodologies in order to be tipping points for knowing and understanding each partner’s changing context and for deepening consortium ownership and engagement feelings.
After the production of a common baseline of indicators (WP3), each partner has worked on the collection of their institutional data. This process has been a precious source of information for the institutional needs assessments reports and for the identification of topics which should be further analysed by each partner.
Further, training and capacity building have been key activities (WP4), providing tools and methodologies required for the design, implementation and evaluation of structural change processes. Also, the partners have seen SUPERA trainings as opportunities to engage institutional “allies” with the SUPERA project and its objectives, as well as key opportunities for team building within the consortium.
WP5 and WP6 have worked on the transition from the results of the institutional needs assessments to the design and implementation of Gender Equality Plans. The main efforts have been located on the establishment of gender mainstreaming support structures by each partner, via Gender Equality Hubs and Fab Labs.
Besides the continuous monitoring of activities within WP7, through participation in all meetings and development of SUPERA’s activities, along with monitoring and evaluation calls, the main output of this WP has been the development of the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. This approach has definitely enhanced and enriched partners’ evaluation culture and has helped to identify important windows of opportunities for change.
Throughout this first reporting period, designing a communication and dissemination plan has been a relevant effort towards defining the communication strategy, which has also set measurable communication objectives. SUPERA partners have participated and organised activities to raise awareness and to understand the importance of gender equality in research organisations and academia, not only internally but also on public activities and in collaboration with other H2020 structural change sister projects. Also, the project’s visual identity was created and the project website was launched

Final results

As the main expected result during this first reporting period, we have conducted an in-depth organisational analysis in each organisation, based on a participative approach, that not only provided key information on what would be the most promising way forward for each organisation to implement the GEP, but also in-depth knowledge of the organisation itself, including its hierarchies, processes, resources and mode of operation, which is highly relevant for understanding how a GEP can be sustainably implemented.
The resulting outcomes are an overview of each organisation’s strengths and weaknesses relating to gender equality for each key action area. As such, this information has been used as the basis for the definition of SUPERA’s working plan detailing how the GEPs are to be introduced over a defined period of time in each implementing partner.
Overall, SUPERA’s potential impacts contribute to increase the number of RPOs and RFOs starting to implement gender equality plans. In the medium to long term, activities will contribute to the achievement of ERA in particular by increasing the number of female researchers, improving their careers and mobility. The integration of the gender dimension in research programmes and content will contribute to the quality of research and the social value of innovations.

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