Actionable recommendations for promoting gender diversity in research leadership

2024-04-03

There is hope for a more inclusive and equitable future in research performing organisations across Europe. MINDtheGEPS is launching a set of recommendations to empower women in leadership and decision-making, targeting conscious and unconscious biases. By implementing these recommendations, research organisations can take significant strides towards achieving gender equality and unlocking the full potential of their workforce.

“There are many misconceptions about women in research careers, like the belief that they self-select towards inequality or prioritize family over career advancement. We also tend to associate leadership with stereotypically masculine traits. To achieve gender equality, we need to address these biases,” says Adrián Lomba, EU Project Manager at CTAG – Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia, and one of the authors. 

MINDtheGEPS is challenging the notion that men are inherently better leaders while introducing gender equality targets within partner institutions. Doing so will help maintain Europe's competitiveness in research by leveraging the full potential of talent.

“Our recommendations for empowering women in leadership and decision-making include a range of initiatives and strategies tailored to the unique needs of different research organisations. Recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we outline a flexible approach for institutions to address gender imbalances within their ranks,” says Gema Antequera, Head of Future Industry EU Projects Area, CTAG – Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia, and one of the authors.

Practical steps towards gender equality in leadership

  • Empower women in leadership: Actively mentor and sponsor women for leadership positions. Offer leadership development programmes tailored to women's needs. Implement transparent promotion processes to ensure equal opportunities.
  • Address bias: Establish diversity and inclusion committees to regularly assess and address biases within the organisation. Conduct regular bias training for all employees, focusing on unconscious biases in decision-making.
  • Gender awareness training for all: Integrate gender equality training into onboarding processes for all staff. Offer specialised workshops on topics like gender-neutral language and inclusive leadership styles. Encourage continuous learning through online resources and discussion groups.
  • Revise selection criteria: Review job descriptions and requirements to eliminate gendered language and biases. Implement blind screening processes for job applications to remove unconscious biases. Consider alternative measures of qualification beyond traditional career standards.
  • Promote visible role models: Create a speaker series featuring successful women leaders from various backgrounds. Establish mentorship programmes pairing junior female employees with senior leaders. Highlight achievements of women leaders through internal communications and social media campaigns.

Antequera, Gema., Holm Bodin, Anna. & Lomba Peréz, Adrián. (2024) Empowering women in leadership & decision-making: Critically addressing conscious & unconscious biases. Zenodo. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10912

About the recommendations

The recommendations are based on a MINDtheGEPs deliverable report that offers guidance on designing training programs for junior researchers, particularly focusing on women, to help them overcome structural and cultural obstacles to career advancement in research. The objective is to challenge stereotypes surrounding women's self-confidence, competitiveness, and family responsibilities, and how these stereotypes influence their choices in research, teaching, and publishing. Its primary focus is on empowering women in decision-making roles within research organisations to enhance their career prospects and promote gender balance in decision-making bodies at research organizations and among MINDtheGEPs partners' gender equality plans.

By Anna Holm Bodin

Antequera, Gema., & Lomba, Adrián. (2024). D5.1 – Guidelines on planned actions to empower women in decision-making processes. Zenodo. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10579143

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Last modified: 2023-08-25