Campus and Community

Técnico’ s Gender Balance project applauded at European conference

Técnico’ s Gender Balance project was presented and applauded at the conference of Systemic Action for Gender Equality project (SAGE), held at ISCTE – IUL.

Técnico’s Gender Balance project was presented at SAGE EU conference, held at ISCTE–IUL, on 3rd June. According to professor Helena Geirinhas, coordinator of the working group Gender Balance@Técnico, “studies demonstrate that top organizations that embrace diversity will likely achieve greater results”. The assessment made by Técnico’ s Gender Balance group showed that there is still a lot of work to be done.

The main goal of the Gender Balance@Técnico is to promote female recruitment, “by increasing the percentage of female candidates: students, staff, researchers and professors”, explained Helena Geirinhas. The number of female students has been increasing since 2014, but there is still a long way to go because there are only 28% of female students enrolled and there are engineering courses such as Information Systems and Computer Engineering that have only 12% of female students.

The project “Engenheiras por um dia” is one of the initiatives promoted by Gender Balance@Técnico and aims to show secondary school female students that engineering is also a profession of women. The project “Girls@Técnico” is another project that aims to promote engineering and technology and demystify the idea that these are not male dominated areas.

Técnico has 24,5% female professors but only 16% became female full professors. To overcome this imbalance, it’s necessary to “eliminate the barriers and make IST a more female-friendly engineering school”.

Técnico approved a teaching relief during post parental leave. This measure aims to better combine working life and family life.

Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo award was created 3 years ago and aims to annually reward a female former student who has made outstanding contributions throughout her professional career and a recently graduated student whose Master’s thesis has been distinguished for its scientific quality, and whose academic performance at IST has been remarkable. The Alumni Talks is an event that allows current students to meet successful alumni. The conference series “Women in Science and Engineering” aims to strengthen the Empowerment of IST community through the dissemination of successful stories of female entrepreneurs.

Técnico was the first higher education institution to be part of iGen – Equality Forum, which includes more than 60 organisations that are committed to promote gender equality.

During the SAGE conference, coordinated by Lígia Amâncio, several projects aiming to promote gender equality in Portuguese universities were presented.

The Portuguese Minister for Science Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, highlighted that there are few women holding leadership positions in higher education institutions. “In the next years a recruitment and career development process will be initiated, and this will be an unique opportunity to improve gender balance”, said the Minister.

A study released last week shows that only 13% of Portuguese higher education institutions are led by women, who continue to face barriers that complicate their access to higher level positions.

For several years now, women have been earning a majority of doctoral degrees in each academic year, but they still continue to have great difficulties in getting the most prestigious positions, according to a study that analyzed the universe of professors working in universities and polytechnic institutes.

The disparities were identified by the EU project SAGE – Systemic Action for Gender, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, in collaboration with ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon.

The study uncovers the obstacles to academic career progression faced by women and the difficulty of being appointed or elected to leadership positions.

These differences are not reflected in the number of higher education professors, which is almost equal in both sexes: 45% are women and 55% are men, according to data from 2017.

The number of higher education professors is almost the same in both sexes, but if we talk about full professors, only one in four is female.

There is also a significant prevalence of men in associate professors – only one in three is female.

Inequality is not a problem restricted to Portugal. Although women earned majority of doctoral degrees in all Europe, men still hold the highest academic status.

Rosa Monteiro, Secretary of State for Equality, announced the possibility of including the criteria of Gender Diversity in A3ES assessment.