The R&I PEERS project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The project is coordinated by the Universita Degli Studi di Salerno (UNISA) with the participation of nine additional partners from Cyprus, Greece, Tunisia, Israel, Slovenia, Belgium, Spain and Italy.
Background and Overview
The R&I Peers project will be based on the concept of gender equality, that can be expressed as “women and men enjoy the same status and have equal opportunity to realize their full human rights and potential to contribute to national, political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit from the results”.
Nonetheless, gender biasing currently permeates all life-domains, and claims for urgent need of interventions addressing strategic gender interests focus on fundamental issues related to women’s (or, less often, men’s) subordination and gender inequities. Strategic gender interests are long-term, usually not material, and are often related to structural changes in society regarding women’s status and equity. This is also the case of the Research Sector, in which women still systematically disappear from higher levels of academic hierarchy.
Despite existing signs of progress towards gender equality amongst top-level graduates in the EU, overall, positive changes since 2004 were not sufficient to produce gender balance across different fields by 2012 . The partners are aware that the obstacles experienced by individuals and groups striving for self-development are often indirect and difficult to discern. They are caused by structural phenomena, social representations and personal and professional cultures that are often difficult to grasp and are particularly resistant to change.
The problems faced by research institutions can be summarised as :
- Opaqueness in decision-making processes;
- Institutional practices inhibiting career opportunities:
- Unconscious bias in assessing excellence
- Wasted opportunities and cognitive errors in knowledge, technology and innovation;
- Employment policies and practices.
These problems are magnified in the Mediterranean Countries because of the cultural and welfare model, mainly based on the differentiation between the role of women (pivotal role as responsible of family caring) and men (“the breadwinner”). The SHE Figures 2015  statistics highlight the gap among the Mediterranean area and the other European areas.
These are systemic difficulties and the R&I Project partners had chosen an approach that considers that gender-neutral policy should go hand in hand with gender-sensitive measures, thus ensuring effective equality of opportunities between men and women in science and technology and, therefore, complying with the “equality between men and women”, one of the European Union’ founding principles. This perspective is aligned with the Rome declaration  (produced during the RRI-SSH conference held in Rome on November 2014, and organised by partner CNR), which calls on all stakeholders to further promote the whole RRI pillars in an integrated way.
The consortium of R&I PEERS has identified the following three objectives to facilitate the smooth implementation and success of the project:
- Implementation and improvement of 7 Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in R&I related organisations
- Smooth the gap of gender representation in decision-making and research-performing processes
- Maximise the impact and the efficacy of gender content into the research programmes
Gender Equality Plan (GEP)
As envisioned by the project, Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute (CNTI) has designed a customised Gender Equality Plan (GEP) to foster gender equality and strengthen the participation of female employees within the departments of the organisation. The customised Gender Equality Plan developed lies on the following target areas: work-life balance, reducing the gender gap in decision-making bodies, reducing gender gap among researchers, improving the use of gender-neutral language in organization’s documents, mentoring and supporting the career and excellence of female researchers. Among others, the plan includes the establishment of equal participation of the two genders in Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute (CNTI)'s Board of Directors for a period of at least 5 years and the introduction of the possibility of flexible working hours as well as remote work in order to improve the work-life balance of the employees.
Full access to the GEP is granted here.
National Legislation about Gender Equality
In order to sufficiently develop the internal Gender Equality Plan (GEP) at Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute (CNTI), the following national legislative documents were taken into account and further used to raise awareness among the employees regarding gender equality:
- Ο Περί Ίσης Μεταχείρισης στην Απασχόληση και την Εργασία Νόμος του 2004 (Ν. 58(I)/2004) / The Equal Treatment in Employment and Labor Law of 2004 (Law 58 (I) / 2004) pdf
- Ο Περί Ίσης Μεταχείρισης Ανδρών και Γυναικών στην Απασχόληση και στην Επαγγελματική Εκπαίδευση Νόμος του 2002 (Ν. 205(I)/2002) / The Equal Treatment of Men and Women in Employment and Vocational Training Law of 2002 (Law 205 (I) / 2002) pdf
- Ο περί Ίσης Μεταχείρισης Ανδρών και Γυναικών (Πρόσβαση σε Αγαθά και Υπηρεσίες και στην Παροχή Αυτών ) Νόμος του 2008 (Ν. 18(I)/2008) / Equal Treatment of Men and Women (Access to and supply of goods and services) Law 2008 (Law 18 (I) / 2008) pdf
- Ο Περί Γονικής Άδειας και Άδειας για Λόγους Aνωτέρας Bίας Nόμος του 2012 (Ν. 47(I)/2012) / Parental Leave Law (2012) 47 (I) / 2012) pdf
- Ο περί Προστασίας της Μητρότητας Νόμος του 1997 (Ν. 100(I)/1997) / The Maternity Protection Law of 1997 (Law 100 (I) / 1997) pdf
- Ο Περί Ίσης Μεταχειρίσεως Ανδρών και Γυναικών στα Επαγγελματικά Σχέδια Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης Νόμος του 2002 (133(I)/2002) / The Equal Treatment of Men and Women in Professional Social Security Schemes Law of 2002 (133 (I) / 2002) pdf
- Ο περί Προστασίας της Πατρότητας Νόμος του 2017 (117(Ι)2017) / The Paternity Protection Law of 2017 (117(Ι)2017) pdf
- Ο Περί Ίσης Αμοιβής μεταξύ Ανδρών και Γυναικών για την Ίδια Εργασία ή για Εργασία Ίσης Αξίας Νόμος του 2002 (Ν. 177(I)/2002) / The Equal Pay for Men and Women for Equal Employment or Equal Work Law of 2002 (177 (I) / 2002) pdf
Structured Democratic Dialogue workshops
Seven Structured Democratic Dialogue workshops are planned during the life-cycle of the project focusing on the cooperative knowledge sharing between R&I PEERS and other initiatives and projects dealing with gender equality plan. The scope of these workshops which will bring together stakeholders and experts is double:
- to strengthen the knowledge base
- to share experiences with the Gender Equality arena, thus ensuring long term adaptation of R&I PEERS GEPs and outlined strategies.
List of Structured Democratic Dialogue workshops
- Rome, November 2018 Towards the identification of best practices in the Gender Equality Arena within an organisation
- SHE Figures 2015
- Structural change in research institutions: Enhancing excellence, gender equality and efficiency in research and innovation (European Commission, EUR 24905, 2012)