The EQUAL-IST Project
Women remain a minority among academic leaders, especially in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The project “Gender Equality Plans for Information Sciences and Technology Research Institutions” (EQUAL-IST) will improve this situation for seven partner Universities that are active in the fields of Information Sciences (IS) and/or Information and Communications Technology (ICT), called in this proposal the Information Sciences and Technology (IST) fields. The Information Sciences (IS) field connects the disciplines of Computer Science and Business Administration. As such, the IS field, on the one hand, like the other STEM fields, faces the issue of gender imbalance, but, on the other hand, has specific characteristics associated with its interdisciplinarity. The under-representation of women in the IST field, aside from its implications for gender equality in career progression, also has far-reaching negative consequences for human capital utilisation and innovation potential. Presence of women in key areas of academia is increasingly recognised as one factor in the gendering of research content, including the shaping of science priorities, research agendas, and methods.
The main goal of the EQUAL-IST project is, therefore, to create a basis for increasing the share of women on all levels in the IST fields. This goal will be achieved by creating awareness among management, employees, and students of the participating IST institutions at the partner Universities (Research Performing Organisations, RPOs), making the institutions reconsider their culture, improving the communication, and supporting women in their career persistence and advancement. Within the realm of the project, we will develop Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) for the participating IST institutions. Based on an initial review of existing literature and analysis of good practices across Europe, we will investigate the state of the art in terms of gender equality at the seven involved IST institutions located throughout Europe. In this way, we will get a profound understanding of their maturity levels in terms of gender equality and the requirements and means used to tackle gender-related issues. The GEPs will be based on these findings and will be tailored to fit the specific needs and the given environment of the institutions. It will be possible due to the participatory and co-design methodology and the use of a crowdsourcing online collaborative platform. The institutions will implement the GEPs in two stages, with the opportunity to refine the goals in the middle of the project run time. Implementation of GEPs will be assessed by external evaluators who are experienced in accompanying institutions during organisational change processes. The findings will be documented in an open platform and will be made accessible for any interested party, especially for other IST research institutions, as a collection of best practices.