Catalan universities and research centres consolidate the implementation of equality plans and action protocols on violence against women

New actions have been put in place to assess the impact of the pandemic and avoid bias in recruitment.

Figures continue to show that the presence of women is decreasing at the higher levels of the career ladder.

The Women and Science Committee’s manifesto calls for universities and research centres to be spaces free of violence against women.

Catalan universities and research centres are consolidating their implementation of gender equality plans and prevention, detection and action protocols to tackle gender-based violence. Coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on Wednesday 25 November the Inter-University Council of Catalonia (CIC) and the CERCA Institute, through the CERCA system Women and Science Committee and Diversity Committee, released the map of gender equality in knowledge institutions in Catalonia.

In the case of the 12 Catalan universities, all have equality plans and action protocols that include the entire university community, also covering cases of LGBTphobia. All of them have specific units dedicated to promoting gender policies and the universities periodically renew their equality plans, in place since 2006, to adapt them to new realities.

Likewise, within the framework of the Women and Science Committee, the CIC has promoted several working groups to further progress in areas such as parity in collegiate bodies and coordination on gender violence, and to analyse new realities such as the impact of COVID-19 in the university and research community.

With regard to CERCA research centres, they all have HRS4R accreditation, which includes a gender plan that, in 92% of cases, is implemented by a unit specifically for promoting gender equality policies. Protocols are in place in 82% of the centres. The CERCA Institute promotes a number of different actions, such as the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan, which is made available to the centres to tailor it to the characteristics of each institution.

One notable recent action aims to prevent bias in the recruitment of research staff. A video produced in collaboration with the Women in Science Programme of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) explains to male and female teachers on assessment panels regarding the scientific data and theory that demonstrate bias in educational assessment. This often subconscious bias is particularly detrimental to women.

According to the latest data collected by the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat) for 2018, 59.5% of personnel employed in R&D-related activity are men. The weight of the male presence increases by a further two 2 points with regard to researchers.

In the case of the CERCA system, the data show that the imbalance in scientific careers starts just after PhD level. While women represent 55% of staff in the centres at the pre-doctoral stage, the percentage drops to 27% among group leaders in later stages.

More data and the press release from the Secretariat for Universities and Research