Shaping Gender Equality Policies in IST-ICT Research Institutions
Reflective Negotiations from the Participatory Audit to Design of Gender Equality Plans
One of the critical issues highlighted by the existing literature on structural change for gender equality refers to the tensions and negotiations between the transformative goal of gender equality policies and the multiple ways they can be re-assumed and incorporated into existing policies and institutional goals. Institutional change can happen via small steps by exploiting existing discursive opportunities, or it can be overtly resisted and seen as a destabilizing factor for the status quo and existing power structures. The H2020 EQUAL-IST (Gender Equality Plans for Information Sciences and Technology Research Institutions) project supported 6 Universities across Europe starting from their Informatics and/or Information Systems Departments to initiate the design and implementation of gender equality plans from a field such as ICT/IST featured by extremely low representation of female researchers and full professors. The chapter analyzes the internal assessment phase and the preliminary steps of the initiated design process : based on a mixed methodology and a participatory approach to design gender equality policies, quantitative data collection has gone hand in hand with a qualitative Participatory Gender Audit: staff members and students discussed the main challenges related to gender inequalities and an idea generation process was kicked off. Discrepancies between the ‘diagnostic’ aspect of assessing problems and ‘prognostic’ ideas for measures and solutions are highlighted, leading to interesting insights as far as the afore-mentioned tensions are concerned.