Plan for the implementation of gender equality policy at UG from 2022 to 2023. Activities and lessons learned so far

In February 2021, the development and implementation of the Gender Equality Plan was launched at the University of Gdańsk. After months of work, the University of Gdańsk's Social Responsibility Committee prepared a document with specific objectives and areas of action, including data collection and monitoring, promotion of good practices, as well as the organisation of training and capacity building at UG for effective diversity management. "Plan for the implementation of gender equality policy at the University of Gdańsk. Equality actions for 2022-2023" is a public document addressed to all stakeholders.

'The University of Gdańsk is significantly involved in gender equality activities - not only collecting information on good equality practices or their analysis and dissemination, but also providing information on equality courses and workshops, developing and implementing a gender equality monitoring system, or raising awareness of gender equality and developing competencies and good communication,' - says prof. dr hab. Ewa Łojkowska from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and GUMed, the Chairperson of the Rector's Commission for Social Responsibility of the University of Gdańsk and a member of the Council for Implementation of the Gender Equality Plan at the University of Gdańsk.

The developed equality plan is a result of previous activities to realise effective diversity management at UG and participation in the EU HORIZON 2020 project Modifying Institution by Developing Gender Equality Plans (MINDtheGEPs).

'We aim to strengthen the position of the University of Gdańsk as a safe place to work, always respecting equality and diversity. We want to use tools that support building such a work environment, where people with different backgrounds work together in the same team, have space and freedom to demonstrate and develop their talents,' - says dr hab. Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka, prof. UG, Head of the Department of Intercultural and Gender Psychology, member of the Rector's Commission for Social Responsibility at the University of Gdańsk, Implementation Council for the Gender Equality Plan at the University of Gdańsk and member of the European University of the Seas consortium, diversity and intercultural communication expert, trainer and mediator. - 'Gender equality plans are activities aimed at removing structural and cultural barriers to employment and career development in science and achieving a work-life balance among women and men, counteracting gender disproportionality in university decision-making bodies, and taking fuller account of gender issues in scientific research and educational programmes.'

Let us recall that in August 2021, the Gender Equality Implementation Council was established at UG (its activities are coordinated by the Vice-Rector prof. dr hab. Krzysztof Bielawski), which analyses the situation at the university and prepares an action plan based on educational campaigns and further monitoring of the university's activities in terms of career progression.

What else has been done to strengthen gender equality?

The Office of the Equal Treatment and Anti-Harassment Spokesperson was established at the UG to deal, among other things, with counteracting gender discrimination.

A diagnosis of the current situation concerning equal treatment of women and men at the UG was also created (prepared based on materials and reports realised within the framework of four different projects), thanks to which it was possible to collect data concerning the participation of women and men in different decision-making bodies of UG, scientific representation of women and men within scientific disciplines and at different stages of scientific career development, the number of women and men among those applying for scientific grants and funding for training to develop their careers, the frequency with which women and men take parental leave, and the earnings structure at different stages of scientific careers.

A survey was also carried out on the perception of gender equality at our University, which was completed by 330 people (68% women). 22 individual in-depth interviews were conducted with UG employees. One of the interesting conclusions is that the existing facilities (contributing to the reconciliation of work and private life, such as employment based on an employment contract for an indefinite period of time, work of academic teachers in a flexible mode of task-related work, the possibility for the children of UG employees to use the kindergarten established at the university) do not eliminate the noticeable disproportions in the paths of scientific career development of women and men, participation of women in the decision-making bodies of UG as well as in the remuneration system.

The analysis of the results of the conducted research has led to the following conclusions:

  1. Among the UG authorities, women are a minority - in the composition of the Rector's Council, the UG Senate and the UG Council, women constitute 20%, 41% and 43% of the composition, respectively. Among deans, women account for 36 per cent and 39 per cent of assistant deans in the 2020-2024 term. There is a clear disproportion here indicating a greater representation of men (Figure 1).
  2. The proportion of women employed in the respective positions decreases with each level of the academic career - in 2020, the positions of assistant and assistant professor and assistant dean show a higher representation of women than men, in both cases approximately 60% of this group are women (Figure 2). At the next stage of the scientific career - the position of a university professor, the share of women is 47%, whereas, in the case of persons with the academic title of professor, women employed at this position account for only 23%.
  3. Within discipline councils, men outnumber women in such disciplines as archaeology, philosophy, history, mathematics, physical sciences and computer science. On the other hand, women outnumber men in the faculties of linguistics (77%) and psychology (72%) and to a lesser extent in the faculties of literature, earth and environmental sciences and education.
  4. Women graduating from higher education are more interested in starting scientific careers and pursuing PhDs, while men are more interested in careers outside scientific institutions, which may be related to the prospect of earning a higher income, e.g. in business.
  5. Women submit more grant applications than men: respectively 58% of national grants and 53% of international grants are submitted by female UG researchers. They also have a higher success rate in obtaining grants: female researchers have a success rate of around 25% and male researchers around 20%.
  6. Women were found to participate more frequently than men in further education courses organised by UG; 63% of further education hours are taken up by women
  7. At UG, parental leave is mainly taken by women, with 68 women and only 2 men on parental leave in 2020.
  8. There is an advantage in earnings for men in both research and teaching and administrative positions. And although the differences are small, the salary and pay rise policy at UG should always aim to equalise the salaries of men and women.

Based on the collected data, five objectives have been defined in the 'Plan for the implementation of gender equality policy at the University of Gdańsk. Equality measures for 2022-2023' - necessary to ensure balance in achieving gender equality at the University of Gdańsk. These are:

1. Strengthening awareness of the gender equality importance in the academic community (by organising meetings, pieces of training or webinars on issues related to creating a working environment where all individuals are treated with equal respect and fairness, as well as on issues related to counteracting unequal treatment, mobbing or gender discrimination. An important measure in this respect is the creation of subpages on the UG website informing about: women in UG history, women in UG management bodies and women's participation in decision-making bodies and gender equality indicators, as well as entering biographical entries of women and men important in UG history and management into the Gedanopedia and Wikipedia).

2. Ensuring gender balance in decision-making processes at UG (by developing and introducing compulsory online training for all UG employees/candidates, training to raise awareness of the importance of equal participation of different genders in university management, training in leadership skills, conducting a promotional campaign aimed at employees, encouraging them to take advantage of various educational forms for professional development. An important measure here is the monitoring of equal treatment indicators for women and men and the appointment of an ombudsman within the organisational structure, whose task would be to collect and analyse personnel, financial and biometric data and monitor gender equality indicator at the university).

3. Ensuring gender balance in the recruitment process and the development of scientific careers (by developing and implementing an online training course for UG staff to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality issues, extending the "UG HR Development Policy" to include mentoring for staff employed in research and teaching positions, action targeted at administrative staff, expanding the "UG Personnel Development Policy" to include mentoring for employees working in research, teaching and research positions, action targeted at administrative staff consisting of support for career development by financing the procedure related to obtaining a doctoral degree or an MBA, as well as mentoring necessary for pursuing a career in UG management structures, making efforts to ensure a balance in the remuneration of women and men, increasing the number of candidates for "feminised" and "masculinised" faculties respectively).

4. Inclusion of a gender perspective in research and teaching content (by developing and introducing compulsory online training to raise awareness of the importance of a gender perspective in the research content of scientific projects, establishing annual awards for the best Master's theses and PhD theses that take into account the gender dimension in research design and interpretation. Establishing an annual Joanna Schopenhauer prize for female researchers with doctoral or post-doctoral degrees for undertaking research that incorporates the gender dimension into the design and interpretation of scientific research, organising an annual conference on gender equality in scientific research at UG, enabling editors and other persons involved in the publishing process of journals and publications published by UG to participate in training sessions on incorporating the gender perspective into the scientific content and guidelines for authors of papers, the inclusion of a question on gender mainstreaming in the UG project charter, substantive support for grant writing/application taking into account the experience of building diverse teams and applying for gender-inclusive research, development and introduction of a compulsory training: "The Role of Gender in Research and Academic Careers" module).

5. Introduction of measures to support work-life balance (by developing and introducing compulsory online training to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality issues, undertaking work on the implementation of hybrid solutions in the aspect of work due to family and/or personal situation, creating a bookmark on the UG website containing information on rights in the provision of parental and custodial care and information on the UG social offer - holidays, trips, etc, camps for children and young people, a promotional and information campaign encouraging men to take parental leave, the organisation of a university celebration of free time for family/relatives, the creation of family rooms for parents of young children at faculties, the construction of recreational space at the UG Campus - such as a playground and a gym).

'We announced our plan in March and although we have been working for many years to build a safe and inclusive working environment, we still have a lot to do,' - remarks dr hab. Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka, prof. UG. - 'We are facing the implementation of educational activities. These will be valuable workshops for our employees and students on various competencies supporting the management of a diverse team, achieving a work-at-home balance, and also a mentoring programme, from which we will start further work. Already in June, together with the MINDtheGEPs project team, we are going to our partner Porriño CTAG - Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia in Vigo, Spain, where together with our international consortium we will develop a training programme and train future equality trainers. The plan is for a two-year period, so after this time we will again carry out a diagnosis and check the effectiveness of our actions.'

EMW / Press Office UG