Gender and teaching staff accreditation
Since the passing of Law 17/2015, of 21 July, on the effective equality of women and men, AQU Catalunya has been committed to the principle of taking into account the differences between women and men in the analysis, planning, design and implementation of policies, considering how the various actions, situations and needs affect women and men.
This commitment has materialized in a number of actions being undertaken, the most relevant of which are:
- Strengthening to ensure parity within the Committees and working groups created within AQU Catalunya.
- Promoting studies to learn the impact of gender on the access to the labour market of graduates of the Catalan university system.
- The approval and deployment of the General Framework for Incorporating the Gender Perspective in Higher Education Teaching.
- Becoming a member of the Women and Science Committee of the Inter-University Council of Catalonia (CIC), where it has a proactive role.
This commitment covers university teaching staff accreditation in particular, also taking into account Resolution of the Parliament of Catalonia 270/XII, on the gender gap in teaching and research. In this area, AQU Catalunya is committed to seeking measures to alleviate the consequences of maternity/paternity leave in research careers, but also in cases of sick leave, dedication to the elderly or dependants, or socially disadvantaged groups.
The Research Assessment Committee, the AQU Catalunya body responsible for awarding research accreditations to university teaching staff, aims for the assessments it carries out to ensure that candidates achieve a minimum level of research and, at the same time, that proven scientific quality prevails over quantity. Within its area of competence, the Committee has undertaken in-depth reflection and debate on several occasions on the impact of gender on research assessment processes with the following results:
- It has expressed the high sensitivity and understanding of the members of the Committee on the subject.
- It proactively ensures that the Committee is equal, both in number of members and in the leadership of the different Specific Committees, as well as the experts and advisers involved in its processes.
- It has expressed an explicit desire to launch measures that fall within its responsibility in order to support those affected, without lowering the level of requirement of the criteria necessary to obtain accreditation.
- It has modified the format of the curriculum so that applicants can report vital facts that may affect their scientific career.
- It has stressed that some measures to mitigate the consequences of the situations described are provided for by current regulations, which use the generic concept of "career-break" to allow assessments that are carried out over a certain period of time.
- It has supported and considered very relevant the measure approved by the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia (CIC) according to which universities are asked to give teaching and research staff, if they so request, a semester of exclusive dedication to research in the three years following maternity leave, a measure which the Committee itself had previously proposed.
Analysis of gender perspective in AQU Catalunya teaching staff accreditation
This new study, which analyses the gender perspective in teaching staff accreditation processes, took into account the assessments AQU Catalunya has carried out over almost 20 years, numbering over 25,000, and the focus of the report was broadened in comparison with the study carried out in 2019, by incorporating a much-needed contextual view.
The main findings include:
- In contextual terms, significant differences persist in the proportion of women by discipline, and there is a clear glass ceiling when it comes to occupying the highest positions on the academic ladder. The good news is that the trend in the system overall shows a reduction in these differences, although it is still far from equality.
- With specific reference to teaching staff assessment, no significant differences in the main bibliometric indicators between men and women were observed at the start of their academic careers, but they become more evident in later professional stages. This is what is known as the vicious circle of academic progress for women, in which women’s academic output and achievement drops over time, with motherhood being a key cause.
- As a result of such slower academic progress, on average, women need a higher number of attempts and/or administrative appeals than men to obtain accreditation.
- However, at the end of the process, in the ability to obtain accreditation was detected, nor was the gap greater in applications for senior lecturers, where the curricula of men and women show even greater differences than in applications for tenure-eligible lecturers.
Research periods and gender
Trams de recerca i gènere: Trams de recerca del professorat contractat avaluat per AQU Catalunya (Research periods and gender. Research periods of non-civil servant teaching staff assessed by AQU Catalunya).
This analysis, based on 6,987 non-civil servant PDI files assessed by AQU Catalunya until 2019, reflects AQU Catalunya's good practices in the assessment processes and concludes that there is no discrimination, either direct or indirect, on the grounds of sex in the assessment of applications received. Specifically:
Regarding the assessment:
- There are no differences in sex by Committee.
- There are only two fields of knowledge with significant differences.
- No differences were detected by area of knowledge.
Regarding differences between men and women in the speed of completing research periods and the number of periods completed:
- No expected differences were found: in the number of periods accomplished by age brackets, or in the years required to pass a research period.
- The area of knowledge is likely to be much more influential than sex in the average number of years needed to complete the research period.
However, AQU Catalunya as a whole and its different bodies and Committees in particular are firmly committed to the continuous improvement of its processes in order to eliminate any gender bias that may occur. The Research Assessment Committee is currently activating initiatives aimed at areas of knowledge that require special attention and reiterates its support for the measure approved by the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia aimed at increasing opportunities available to all groups involved.