Working with gender equality plans at universities plays a crucial role in promoting gender equity and creating an inclusive academic environment. Being involved in the creation and further development of GEPs allows to be actively included and part of shaping measures to foster equity in our research environments. Seen that way, this in itself can be a successful GEP experience!
This text is based on the exchange with members of the Gender Equality Office at Ruhr University Bochum and their experiences on working with the GEP.
Use for the practical and conceptual work:
Not only for central actors for Gender Equity, but also for the ones at the departments and faculties, GEPs give orientation, guidance and help in discussions in board meetings and to implement change. One example is the implementation of a project on gender-sensitive language within a faculty: This measure was clearly encouraged in the GEP, which provided the decentral actors for Gender Equality with a sense of support. Another example are the universities internal grants for Gender Equality Projects: here the GEP helped to shape the successful proposal for a Lore-Agnes project.
Benefits for the ones who are engaged for equity:
A gender equality plan not only offers specific measures to promote gender equity but also provides general support and guidance. It benefits decentralized departments, teams, and individuals interested in the university.
The plan serves as a valuable basis:
- for argumentation for projects and stakeholders,
- for funding of research projects as well as organizational change measures,
- and rule implementation (e.g. recruiting, decision making, family-friendliness)
Furthermore, it establishes a structure for work and assists in managing personnel changes within the Equal Opportunity Office. Moreover, the plan can be used to exert pressure on Top Management and emphasize the importance of gender equity at all levels of the university.
Of course, the existence of a gender equality plan also places certain pressure on the Equal Opportunity Office. What happens if the defined goals are not achieved? This can be seen as a disadvantage. However, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks:
- The gender equality plan raises awareness of shortcomings and encourages consideration of how to address them.
- The plan requires regular evaluations, contributing to continuous improvement of their work.
This helps to ensure that long-term goals of gender equity are achieved.
In our experience, working with gender equality plans offers numerous benefits. It provides support and guidance, strengthens the basis for project proposals and funding, establishes a work structure, and promotes regular evaluation. By raising awareness of deficiencies and encouraging ways to rectify them, it allows for continuous progress towards gender equity at universities.
Here it is important that the plans are also known and used by as many stakeholders as possible at the faculties. This is the advantage of a network of decentralized equal opportunity officers. In addition, management and deans at faculties should also be aware of the target agreements in the framework plan and include them in strategic planning and decisions.
What experiences have you had so far with the introduction of GEPs? Do you have any questions for us regarding our experience with the GEP?