Gender equality is the key to talent and knowledge
Effective Gender Equality in Research and the Academia (EGERA) is a four-year European research project on gender equality at research institutes in six EU member states and Turkey. The focus lies on organizational learning with respect to gender and diversity. The EGERA research team trains leaders within the academic community to understand the origins of gender inequality in these institutes, and to learn the best systemic approach. In addition, the team promotes the integration of a gender perspective in education and research. Dr Inge Bleijenbergh and her team are studying how organizational learning occurs and to what extent it contributes to change at research institutes.
Talent stays under the radar
To remain innovative, research institutes need talent and knowledge. Unfortunately gender inequality within these organizations obstructs optimal use of the talent and knowledge that is present. At the same time, disseminating knowledge is targeting a group that is too small, because, for example, experiences of women or minorities are not included. This results in a lack of understanding of the nature of problems and also a deficiency of solutions.
Not an individual problem
To educate organizations about inequality, the EGERA team is working with group model building at research institutes in Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic and Turkey. This method was developed in the previous century in the field of natural sciences to solve industrial problems and is used frequently at the Institute for Management Research to understand and tackle policy issues. It is a new tool in the field of gender and diversity issues. Bleijenbergh: "We get the managers to draw their organizational processes in a table. This way they learn how cause and consequence are interwoven. It helps them see that gender inequality and lack of diversity are a problem for the organization, not only for individuals. This leads to a greater commitment to take on the underlying problems.”
The European research project started in 2014. Bleijenbergh: "During the course of this project, the people who can bring about change have begun to feel like owners of the problem. It makes them understand that the entire organization suffers when certain groups are not offered enough chances. This insight is not only necessary among men in leadership roles. Women sometimes also see inequality as an individual problem that only burdens other women. Sexual stereotypes are present in everyone’s thinking.”
- Effective Gender Equality in Research and the Academia (EGERA)