Project_Gender Action Plans in Academia




Abstract: Research on the implementation of positive actions and gender mainstreaming in academia reveals a fragmented patchwork in adopting strategies and policies. Even when national policies guarantee uniformity in adopting Gender Equality Plans (GEPs), this does not always lead to substantial changes in research and innovation teams and management structures.

Our study was inspired by the EU's requirement that research and innovation projects submitted to calls for proposal in the Sixth Framework Program (2002-2006) include a Gender Action Plan (GAP), covering all measures and activities promoting gender equality within each project and explaining gender issues associated with the project's subject matter. Although the requirement has been discontinued in the following Framework Programmes, the idea of a GAP at the project level raised interest in the scientific community.

Our article reports on the roadmap and the construction phases to implement a Gender Action Plan at the project level (P-GAP). A new European project funded under the Erasmus+ European Universities initiative has been identified as a case study for its characteristic of involving different institutional areas: teaching, research and third mission. The P-GAP addresses all project activities, thus escaping the boundaries set by the siloed work package structure.

By focusing on micro-actions at the project level, the P-GAP mirrors macro-actions at the organisational level. The purpose of the initiative was to understand whether activities inspired by GEPs but implemented at the project level encounter obstacles and resistance similar to those challenging the implementation of GEPs at the institutional level. By stimulating faculty, research, management, and administrative staff to promote gender equality and diversity, it can test challenges and difficulties, leading those involved in the micro-actions to become more assertive and proactive in transferring equality, diversity, and inclusion methods and strategies to institutional GEPs and academia at large.

Partners' attitudes toward building the P-GAP were positive: they showed interest in the idea, contributed actively to plan several micro-actions and saw the potential to influence existing or new institutional GEPs indirectly.