Gender equality: Area Science Park publishes new Plan to reduce the gender gap
Area Science Park is committed to introducing systemic change by building on single initiatives, in line with the European objectives for a “Union of equality”
Gender equality: Area Science Park publishes new Plan to reduce the gender gap

Promoting gender equality has been a key focus at the European Commission in recent decades, with numerous actions aimed at reducing the gender gap in the workplace. Encouraging trends include the higher number of women in the labour market and their progress in securing better education and training.

However, complete gender parity is not yet a reality in any Member State. Progress is slow and gender gaps remain as regards pay, welfare, pensions, occupation of leadership positions and participation in political and institutional life.

Under the Presidency of Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission has set the objective of making significant, concrete progress by 2025, in line with its commitment to achieving a Union of Equality. Various policies have been put in place, among which is the inclusion of a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) as one of the eligibility criteria for institutions applying for funding from the Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation as of 2022.

Gender equality at Area Science Park

Area Science Park is fully committed to promoting gender equality and has been working on conciliation measures through various initiatives for several years. These actions, implementing national and international regulations, include:

  • 2011: setting up the CUG (committee for equal opportunities, employee welfare and against discrimination), which provides a platform for observation and discussion between employees and Area Science Park’s board, with suggestions and ideas being put forward.
  • 2017: experimenting with remote working – Area Science Park was one of the first research institutions in Italy to do this, launching pilot projects that became part of the institutional structure in 2022;
  • COVID-19 pandemic: initiating a series of actions to improve employee wellbeing and their ability to balance work and family life.

Among the actions aimed at promoting equal opportunities, Area Science Park has also: opened a company crèche, organised internal training at times that allow part-time staff to take part during working hours, and set up multidisciplinary working groups focused on promoting organisational wellbeing.

Despite these efforts, much still remains to be done. The leap now needs to be made from single actions and initiatives to a comprehensive, integrated plan capable of influencing the decision-making processes and the effectiveness of overall performance.

In this regard, drafting the GEP has provided an opportunity to reflect on and analyse the issue. This has also involved looking at the action taken within other national and international bodies (namely public research institutions and universities). Above all, however, it marks a turning point – a chance to take stock of everything that has been achieved so far and move forward with a new shared approach.

Area Science Park’s GEP

In line with the requirements set out by the European Commission, in 2021 Area Science Park created a working group to pool different multidisciplinary skills to draft the Plan. This policy document aims to promote everyone’s full participation in Area Science Park’s work and operation, building a culture based on respect, tackling gender discrimination and promoting effective gender equality through consistent actions pursued over time, with a specific focus on the period 2022-2024.

The Plan was drawn up according to Area Science Park’s specific profile, institutional aims, organisational structure and values.

The Plan is organised according to five thematic areas (TA), as set out by the European Commission. Each thematic area is broken down into objectives and presented in a summary table. This makes the objectives easy to verify and the document easy to update.

The five thematic areas of the GEP

The following thematic areas have been identified for Area Science Park’s Plan, in line with the European Commission’s guidelines:

  • Work-life balance and organisational culture – TA1
  • Gender balance in leadership and decision-making – TA2
  • Gender equality in recruitment and career progression – TA3
  • Gender-based violence and knowledge-sharing on equal opportunities – TA4
  • Integration of the gender dimension into research, innovation and scientific knowledge-sharing – TA5

Each thematic area has been broken down according to its objectives, activities, tools, contact people/departments, target groups, timeline and result indicators.

The tables and data described in the Plan (updated 31/12/2021) provide a snapshot of where Area Science Park started from on this journey, up to the approval of the document, and serve as an initial reference base for monitoring the impact and success of the planned actions.

Download Area Science Park’s Gender Equality Plan [in Italian]