The Gender Equality Plan launched and approved by Técnico aims “to ensure a culture that enables women and men equal opportunities within Instituto Superior Técnico”. The document was prepared by the Gender Balance group at Técnico – Gender.Balance@Técnico, and reflects the strategy followed in the last 5 years to promote gender equality, inside and outside the school, in order to combat stereotypes and disparities that still exist in our society.
The GenderBalance@Técnico was created in 2016, and since then, several initiatives and programmes have been put into practice to foster gender balance, a more inclusive education and a more sustainable society. “In recognition of the work carried out during these years, and due to external needs, the school board decided to formally approve this plan, which consists mainly of activities carried out regularly, but in a more official format”, explains professor Alexandre Bernardino, coordinator of GenderBalance@Técnico. “It’s rewarding to see the school’s commitment to gender equality, which also reinforces our commitment to propose and implement further measures that follow the best international practices, adapted to the national context”, he adds.
It is defined a strategy based on 4 priority areas of intervention: equal access to employment – recruitment and selection; performance evaluation and career progression; internal and external information and communication and work-life balance. “These areas are related to iGen main activity. Técnico was the first higher education institution to join iGen – Organizations Forum for Gender Equality”, stresses professor Beatriz Silva, who also coordinates GenderBalance@Técnico. This plan foresees the continuous monitoring of gender equality indicators.
The action plan includes 12 strategic objectives that have been achieved through a set of actions and initiatives. Professor Alexandre Bernardino highlights “the definition and implementation of the various activities have been carried out as needs and opportunities arise. For example, the “Engenheiras por um dia” (Being a female engineer for a day) project, promoted by the Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, Rosa Monteiro, of which Técnico is a partner and has been actively collaborating since the pilot project. Since 2017, the project has reached 10,000 young women through 460 activities.
The most recent initiative, which is already included in the plan, is the promotion of inclusive language in internal communication. “The GenderBalance@Técnico, in collaboration with the Human Resources Division, prepared an inclusive language guide”, says professor Beatriz Silva.
“Improving communication is directly related to the need of making our community conscious about behaviours that lead to gender stereotypes”, says professor Alexandre Bernardino. “Some measures promoted by our Group, such as the exemption from teaching service after parental leave, are still not sufficiently disseminated in the school and need greater visibility”.
The document is in itself a way of showing the community the importance of gender equality, and that the contribution of all men and women is crucial. “The existence of a plan approved by the school certainly increases the visibility of the measures implemented and raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of this topic for the well-being of the entire Técnico community and for the quality of our work”, stresses professor Beatriz Silva.
The Gender Equality Plan is, therefore, another important step in pursuing the objective of this work group, which is to “deconstruct gender stereotypes in STEM fields”, says professor Alexandre Bernardino. “Gender cannot affect young women’s opportunities. At the same time, women’s career progression at Técnico cannot be limited by gender stereotypes”, stresses professor Beatriz Silva.