Resources and gender competence are needed for science equality measures to be effective

February 06, 2020

Half of female Spanish researchers believe that being a woman makes your career more difficult. Furthermore, 70% of female scientists think that there are not enough female researchers in leadership roles in Spain. This is according to a report on gender equality in research published by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Cotec Foundation. In an attempt to mitigate this inequality, companies and institutions across Europe are implementing gender equality measures in R&D, the outcome of which is not normally evaluated from a scientific perspective.

In light of the situation, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and Arhaus University in Denmark have participated in a study led by the German research organization Fraunhofer, which analysed 19 interventions of this nature in six European countries (including Spain). The research has shown that more resources are needed and that all employees need greater gender competence for these R&D equality measures to be effective.

"One of institutions' main areas for improvement is the level of gender competence throughout the institution, from employees without management responsibilities, through to middle management and senior decision-makers," said Rachel Palmén. Palmén is a member of the Gender and ICT research group at the UOC's Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), and the study's principal investigator.

The study, which has been published in the journal Evaluation and Program Planning, analyses different gender equality initiatives in sectors such as higher education, business and government administration. It focuses on the countries of Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Spain and Sweden, analysing their interventions on a regional, national and institutional level.

The study's results highlight the need to invest more resources into devising equality measures

In each of the 19 case studies, the scientists carried out document analysis and conducted between four and twelve interviews with those in charge of gender policy, those affected by the measures and other employees, both male and female.

The study, which is part of the EFFORTI project, then used the data to analyse how gender quality measures are implemented in relation to eight parameters: if they were coherent with the outlined objectives, if they had changed over time, who assumed responsibility, their relationship with decision-making organisms, what fixed procedures were in place, which factors inhibited their implementation, which factors favoured their implementation and if the obstacles that did exist could be overcome.

Palmén and her team were able to deduce that, in Spain, far fewer resources are dedicated to gender equality measures in R&D than in other countries such as Austria, Germany or other Nordic countries. She said that "in the Spanish case studies we see a constant lack of resources for this type of intervention, although expectations of real change remain high, leading to unrealistic expectations of what can actually be achieved".

Despite this lack of resources, it seems Spain has one of the most advanced legislative frameworks for gender equality in R&D. "This country has a wealth of experience in devising gender equality plans and is home to some of the most well-known experts in this area in Europe," Palmén said.

More than just figures: reducing gender bias

The research highlights a widespread notion that gender equality simply means having the same number of women and men in a company or institution. "It's much more than that: it also involves thinking about how institutional processes and procedures can promote or reduce gender bias," said Palmén.

In the specific case of the R&D sector, the measures must go beyond just achieving institutional change and consider that the gender dimension should be integrated into research and innovation. "Gender equality interventions in R&D are complex and any evaluation of these measures must take this complexity into account," Palmén said.
-end-
bandera unio europea

The EFFORTI project was coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI and other associates, including Fraunhofer CeRRI, the UOC, Joanneum Research, Aarhus University, NaTE and Intrasoft. The project was funded by Horizon 2020 Framework Programme grant agreement 710470.

Reference article

Palmén, R.; Kalpazidou Schmidt, E.; Analysing facilitating and hindering factors for implementing gender equality interventions in R&I: Structures and processes. Evaluation and Program Planning 2019, 77, 101726. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2019.101726

UOC R&I

The UOC's research and innovation contribute to solving the challenges facing the global societies of the 21st century by studying ICTs' interactions with human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 47 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and three research centres: the IN3, the eLearn Center and the eHealth Center.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals and open knowledge provide strategic pillars on which the UOC's teaching, research and innovation are built. More information: research.uoc.edu.

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

Related Employees Articles from Brightsurf:

How initiatives empowering employees can backfire
Strategies meant to motivate people in the workplace may have unintended consequences -- depending on who's in charge.

Some employees more likely to adhere to information security policies than others
Information security policies (ISP) that are not grounded in the realities of an employee's work responsibilities and priorities exposes organizations to higher risk for data breaches, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Covert tobacco industry marketing tactics exposed by former employees
Tobacco companies use covert marketing tactics and exploit loopholes in Australian tobacco control laws to promote their products despite current tobacco advertising bans, finds new research from University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW.

How employees' rankings disrupt cooperation and how managers can restore it
First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize a set of steak knives, third prize you're firedĀ».

Employees less upset at being replaced by robots than by other people
Generally speaking, most people find the idea of workers being replaced by robots or software worse than if the jobs are taken over by other workers.

Some LGBT employees feel less supported at federal agencies
Workplace inequality is visible when it involves gender and race, but less so with sexual identity and gender expression.

Workplace interventions may improve sleep habits and duration for employees
Simple workplace interventions, like educating employees about the importance of sleep and providing behavioral sleep strategies, may produce beneficial results, according to a new review.

To keep the creative juices flowing, employees should be receptive to criticism
Though most firms today embrace a culture of criticism, when supervisors and peers dispense negative feedback it can actually stunt the creative process, according to a new study co-authored by Yeun Joon Kim, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

How a positive work environment leads to feelings of inclusion among employees
Fostering an inclusive work environment can lead to higher satisfaction, innovation, trust and retention among employees, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

How susceptible are hospital employees to phishing attacks?
A multicenter study finds high click rate for simulated phishing emails, potential benefit in phishing awareness training.

Read More: Employees News and Employees Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.