SPEAR PROJECT

SPEAR Project

Supporting and Implementing Plans for Gender Equality in Academia and Research

At the beginning of January 2019, the University of Rijeka commenced the implementation of a project named “Supporting and Implementing Plans for Gender Equality in Academia and Research” (SPEAR).

The consortium of the project worth a total of 3 million euros consists of 11 partners from 9 European countries coordinated by the University of Southern Denmark. These include Uppsala University (Sweden), RWTH Aachen University (Germany), the non-profit organization Europa Media Ltd. (Hungary), the research institute JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, South-West University “Neofit Rilski” (Bulgaria), Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski” (Bulgaria), Vilnius University (Lithuania), Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania), NOVA University Lisbon (Portugal) and the University of Rijeka (Croatia). An advisory group representing key gender equality stakeholders is affiliated with the consortium. The project runs for four years and is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 “Science with and for Society” (SwafS) program.

By participating in the project, the University of Rijeka substantiates its strategic commitment and duty as a responsible and socially sensitive public stakeholder, thereby creating an encouraging environment that deplores any form of inequality in academia.

Aims, activities, and expected impacts of the project

The project will serve to establish communities of learning (CoLs). Identification of the needs for action in project partners’ institutions will be monitored via learning platforms in the CoLs. Simultaneously, the SPEAR project will establish communities of practice (CoPs) as a sort of platform for the exchange of various types of practical experience and the application of acquired knowledge while implementing gender equality plans at partner institutions. By establishing and interconnecting the aforementioned communities, which are crucial for a successful and sustainable implementation of the Gender Equality Plan, the SPEAR project will provide necessary structural support to improve gender equality at partner institutions both during and after the implementation of the project.

Guidelines for the implementation of gender equality plans of the European Institute for Gender Equality will be used for the purposes of project implementation and the fulfillment of its objectives. A unique methodology dedicated to creative, open, appropriate, gradual, responsible, smart (SMART), and sustainable changes (SPEAR’s COMPASS) will be applied. An integral part of the SPEAR project is an improved impartial evaluation scheme that encourages feedback and participants learning during the project.

By building a network and a community within and outside the project and by formulating practical policy recommendations, the SPEAR project will seek to foster sustainability in gender equality practices in academia through a range of measures and outcomes, including the relationships to other related EU projects.

Expected impacts of the project:
• an increased number of Research Performing and Higher Education Organizations implementing gender equality plans,
• an increased number of women in Research and Innovation and the improvement of their career prospects,
• improved gender balance in decision-making bodies in Research Performing Organizations,
• firmer gender dimension in research contents.

Useful content developed by the SPEAR project can be found on the project’s website, as well as on the websites of other initiatives dealing with the topic of gender equality in academia and research.

Reaction to the lack of structural support

Challenges remain despite numerous initiatives across the European Union aimed at the improvement of gender equality in academia. In particular, it has been noted that gender equality professionals are confronted by a lack of incentive structures. Through the SPEAR project, institutional changes will be initiated in 9 European scientific research institutions utilizing the implementation of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) and GEAR tools of the European Institute for Gender Equality precisely to provide structural support.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824544.

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