In 1999, women scientists representing all European countries established the Helsinki Group with the aim of highlighting gender discrimination in science and individuating strategies to overcome it. Since then, many actions have been taken to promote gender mainstreaming in science (from statistical monitoring, to networking, from activities for girls in schools to the development of gender guidelines).

Now, the Commission has come to the idea that, after a decade of activities meant to raise the issue and to produce cultural change, time for structural change has come.

Since FP7 began, the European Commission has supported actions in pursuit of change (both cultural and structural) in the way gender and diversity are managed in universities and research organisations. Universities and research bodies are expected to cooperate on common actions in order to implement the best systemic organisational approaches to increase the participation and career advancement of women researchers.

GENIS – LAB concept moves from the acknowledgement that a decade of gender in science activities promoted by the European Commission has brought forward evident changes in the gender dimension of science. In 2008 and in 2009, through the “Science in Society Work Programme”, the European Commission financed several projects aimed at raising awareness on the gender inequalities in research organisations and universities.

However, there still are several factors which limit or impede the change towards effective equality between men and women in science. These factors appear to be linked to organisational systems and to the relation between individuals and the organisations. Thus, a complex intervention focusing on organisational dynamics, as the one proposed by GENIS-LAB, whose objective is to have an effective impact on the conditions of women and men in research organisations. In this perspective GENIS LAB main objectives are:

  • to improve women researchers working conditions
  • to improve women researchers carriers opportunities in research organisations
  • to improve organisational climate–workplace, acting on organisational culture - to fight against negative stereotypes, within research organisation but also in a more general context
  • to contribute to the creation of positive stereotypes.

 

Being aware of the complexity of the purpose, GENIS LAB consortium proposes an integrated and systemic approach, focusing on three levels:

  • the organisational level (scientific organisation partners): identification of specific management tools and definition of self tailored action plans aimed to promote internal structural changes
  • the social/environmental level: training for HR managers aimed at fighting against stereotypes (de-constructing the stereotyped relation between women and science). Training will support cultural changes within the organisation through the re-definition of excellence evaluation criteria.
  • the transnational European level: promotion of networking/mutual learning among involved scientific organisation to support the exchange of experiences, practices, efficient management tools. The driving idea is to promote and support structural changes, on the basis of self tailored action plans to obtain a more equalitarian approach towards (women) talents, based on the recognition of skills and competencies and suitable to overcome gender discriminations.
 

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