#Ukraine: providing and receiving support

Increasing Gender Equality in Academia: Eurodoc’s contribution to the “Strategies for Sustainable Gender Equality” project

Increasing Gender Equality in Academia

At the beginning of 2020, Eurodoc strengthened its commitment to the topic of gender equality by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Community of Practice (CoP) “Strategies for Sustainable Gender Equality”.

The first meeting Eurodoc joined was held in Paris on the 2-3 March 2020: the COVID pandemic just broke out, and the meeting was held in hybrid form.

The main objective of the project was to bring together people from different countries and working positions within Universities to discuss issues linked with gender equality and possible best practices in a cooperative and friendly manner. Topics such as gender-based violence in academia, research assessment and gender equality were touched, as you may read here. Special attention was paid by the network to the struggles of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and Eurodoc contributed to the discussion bringing the European ECRs’ perspective in the debate.

The breakout of the pandemic added among the urgent topics the impact of the containment measures such as lockdown, remote working, inaccessibility to field research, libraries and laboratories, on the personal and professional lives of researchers and the discriminatory effects it had on female researchers. 

In June 2020, the participants discussed the impact of COVID pandemic on ECRs, with special attention on gendered impacts

The discussion focused on ECRs continued with a team effort by the network to submit a COST Action titled “Voices - Making Young Researchers' Voices Heard for Gender Equality

After the submission, two more meetings on 8 December 2020 and 12 January 2021 were dedicated to ECRs. Eurodoc contributed with a presentation to the first one: Sara Pilia, at the time Eurodoc Equality Working Group Coordinator, and currently Eurodoc Vice President, stressed the importance of encouraging ECRs, and especially women among them, to get involved in advocacy and policy-making processes. She also highlighted that it is in the postdoc/pre-tenured period that the “leaky pipeline” reduces the number of women in research from 50% (PhD candidate level) to around 25% (tenured professors), as shown by the “scissor graph” of the SheFigures report 2018 (Figure 6.1, chapter 6, p. 116). For this reason, to act on ECRs conditions and struggles in the pre-tenured period can have a decisive impact on increasing the retention of female researchers within academia.

The last meeting of the network within the project was held on the 26 October 2021, but it was decided to continue to hold some meetings to keep the network alive and strengthen the links and the cooperation among the participants. "The cooperation with the CoP ‘Strategies’ has been a very valuable opportunity for Eurodoc”, said Sara Pilia, Vice President of Eurodoc. “When we joined the partnership, Eurodoc’s work on Gender Equality was at the beginning, and we had much to learn, both on the methodological side and on the ongoing EU policy-making debate. I really appreciated the open and welcoming atmosphere at the meetings, and the cooperative environment. It has been a great opportunity also for building a network: we made acquaintance with some experts that are now supporting an Eurodoc internal project on Equality, and we started new partnerships. However, the most important result was the proposal of a COST Action focused on ECRs, that means that we have been able to bring ECRs’ voice in that context, and built support from professors, funders, and gender equality officers.