University of Gdańsk opens playroom to improve work-life balance

2022-09-12

Balancing the many expectations that come with an academic career and raising a family can be challenging. In an effort to support their staff in finding a balance between private and scientific life, Professor Natailia Trzonkowska the Director of the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science (ICCVS) at University of Gdańsk recently opened a children’s play room – a direct result of the university’s commitment to the MINDtheGEPs project and Gender Equality Plan for the University of Gdańsk.

MINDtheGEPs partners are developing gender equality plans to increase women’s participation in research. Being successful includes putting measures in place to improve work-life balance. On September 6, the ICCVS opened an addition to the laboratory in the form of a family room, with an official opening led by Centre Director Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska, professor at the Cancer Immunology Group, and the Rector of the University of Gdansk, prof. Piotr Stepnowski.

According to Professor Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska, the initiative is a product of the university’s participation in MINDtheGEPs. “Europe is now moving towards gender equality, but women are still more likely than men to give up academic work to look after their children”, said prof. Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska.

And there is a real need for measures that can improve work-life balance. “In our team, 30 out of 46 team members are women. Like any scientists, we want to understand biological processes or find answers to our questions. However, we don't want to be torn between work and family and we don't want our children to think that work is taking them away from their parents. This vision gave birth to the idea for our Family Room”, said prof. Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska.

Ewa Łojkowska, Head of the Department of Plant Protection and Biotechnology at the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology at the University of Gdansk & Medical University of Gdansk
Professor Ewa Łojkowska, MINDtheGEPs

Professor Ewa Łojkowska is leading the MINDtheGEPs effort at the University of Gdańsk. She is also Head of the Department of Plant Protection and Biotechnology at the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology at the University of Gdansk & Medical University of Gdansk. During the opening ceremony, she talked about the importance of the project in a broader context, mentioning the low percentage of women at the highest positions in academia. According to her, only 45% of associate professors are women, and when we look at those who have the full professor’s title, the rate drops to 25%.

The University of Gdańsk is committed to the development of a gender equality plan. During the opening ceremony, the Rector, Professor Piotr Stepnowski, reinforced both the need for projects like MINDtheGEPs, and the university’s commitment. “We know about the risks that women in science face. This is one of the many projects of the University of Gdańsk that counteracts gender inequality”, said Professor Piotr Stepnowski.

By Marika Ljungberg

Note: This text builds on a press release published by the University of Gdańsk

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Last modified: 2022-09-19