Austria: 36 Recommendations for gender competencies for a gender-equal cultural change
One of the three pillars of the European Gender Equality Objectives is to anchor the gender dimension into the structures, processes and policies of higher education and research institutions in line with a gender-equal cultural change (”fix the institutions”). The broadening of gender competencies was identified as a relevant lever to promote this desired cultural change at higher education institutions and research facilities in a lasting manner. To this end, the Austrian University Conference, in which all higher education sectors are represented, developed, and adopted 36 recommendations for the broadening of gender competencies in higher education processes. Gender-competent management, gender-competent teaching and research and gender-competent action, were the focal points here, with particular focus on developing practical and actionable recommendations. Furthermore, it was taken into account that the individual university sectors have different starting points and needs: for example, while public universities focus on improving the effectiveness of existing gender equality measures, the teacher training institutions need to establish and maintain sustainable gender equality structures.
What is the status quo? The recommendation paper was distributed to the universities and research institutions in 2019, with management informed individually, to ensure the recommendations are also implemented at the executive level. In principle, the responsibility for implementing the recommendations lies with each of the higher education and research institutions, however, the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research supports this process. Part of this support is an annual networking event organised by the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research with the long-term goal of forming a community of practice. The first meeting took place in October 2020 (virtually, due to the coronavirus) accompanied by experts and with 90 representatives from the higher education institutions. The event’s content was derived from a survey of the universities prior to the event, where the current state of implementation of these recommendations at the institutions, as well as their needs and concerns were examined. This close cooperation and monitoring of the process will be continued in the coming years to achieve the goal of a gender-equal cultural change in science and research. If this is a long-lasting success, then the issue of gender equality would not be linked to individual people (as is currently often the case), but it would be (a natural part of) the organisational culture.