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EQUAL4EUROPE, led by Esade, develops good practices to promote gender equality in research and higher education institutions

The handbook summarises the main findings of the project after four years of work. EQUAL4EUROPE is funded by the European Commission and undertaken by eight international partner institutions led by Esade.

Women face social, cultural and systemic barriers in the course of their academic career, as a result of which the higher the positions, the less women are represented. They account for 42.3% of academic staff in Europe, but only 23.6% of decision-making positions. Therefore, researchers and experts in gender equality at international universities and business schools have drawn up a practical guide for the design and implementation of equality plans in European research and higher education institutions. This handbook is the fruit of four years of work on EQUAL4EUROPE, a research project funded by the European Commission and undertaken by a consortium of eight international institutions led by Esade.

“EQUAL4EUROPE has contributed to creating gender awareness and developing gender equality standards for research institutions”, observed Anna Ginès, coordinator of the project and associate professor at Esade. “The pursuit of gender equality is a continuous journey, and projects such as EQUAL4EUROPE play a vital role in fostering change and creating a more equitable future,” she added.

For his part, Christophe Terrasse, director of international projects at EFMD and member of EQUAL4EUROPE, also praised the handbook, describing it as a comprehensive guide that “summarises the main findings of the project and offers a pragmatic blueprint for replication in other higher education institutions.” Terrasse highlighted the “resolutely practical” purpose of the manual. “It is intended as an accessible and practical companion, supplying both inspiration and hands-on assistance for the development and implementation of gender equality plans.”

Global focus and three areas of action

The report notes that various institutions have taken steps to promote equality in recent years, but these efforts tend to be decentralised and scattered across several departments, committees and programmes. In contrast, EQUAL4EUROPE proposes a global approach that involves all levels of the institutions, from students to management, in a well-defined plan. In this respect, Ginès points out three areas in which the manual offers good practices to be implemented in institutions: (i) removing barriers to recruitment, retention and career progression of women; (ii) addressing gender imbalances in decision-making bodies; and (iii) introducing the gender perspective in research and innovation content.

The guide offers practical recommendations that range from methods of compiling and evaluating gender data and the creation of a commission responsible for designing effective equality plans, to the identification of skills that can facilitate the promotion of women to leadership positions. Each stage examined in the handbook includes an analysis of challenges, activities and good practices, in addition to resources and supporting documents.

A European consortium of academic excellence

EQUAL4EUROPE forms part of the European Commission’s ‘Horizon 2020’ programme. The project was launched in 2020 as a consortium composed of eight international partners: Erasmus University Rotterdam and Nehem (Netherlands), Comenius University Bratislava (Slovakia), IEDC Bled School of Management (Slovenia), ESMT Berlin (Germany), INSEAD (France), EFMD (Belgium) and Esade (Spain). Over the last four years, all the aforementioned have worked on various lines of research, with the aim of improving diagnosis, awareness and the specific gender equality policies themselves in each of these institutions.