INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SCIENCE: WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND FOR SCIENCE
On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute, the National Institute of Chemistry and the University of Ljubljana spoke about the position of women in research at a round table entitled Women in Science and for Science. The event, which took place on 12 February 2024 at the National Institute of Chemistry, was attended by Associate Prof. Dr. Mojca Benčina, National Institute of Chemistry, Assistant Prof. Dr. Tanja Goričanec, Jozef Stefan Institute, Prof. Dr. Barbara Koroušić Seljak, Jozef Stefan Institute, Associate Prof. Dr. Barbara Koroušić Seljak, Jozef Stefan Institute, Associate Prof. Dr. Natalija Majsova, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Prof. Dr. Ksenija Vidmar Horvat, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Vice-Rector for Academic and Student Affairs and the guardian of the Gender Equality Plan at the University of Ljubljana, and Dr. Ema Žagar, Institute of Chemistry.
According to the United Nations, only 12% of the members of national science academies globally are women. In Slovenia, only 12.8 per cent of the 179 members of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) are women, which translates to 23 women. The panellists spoke about what inspired them to pursue a career in science, their role models, their work at research institutions in Slovenia and abroad, as well as their experiences of working in predominantly male teams, the challenges of work-life balance, and the barriers that women scientists still face in the framework of career progression. They stressed the importance of encouraging young girls to pursue a career in science, especially in STEM, and agreed that research is a highly creative and fulfilling profession.
Photos by Andrej Perdih
ATHENA PROJECT NEWSLETTER
The fourth issue of the Athena project newsletter, which provides information on the events and activities JSI and our project partners have carried out over the past months.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual campaign that begins on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through International Human Rights Day on 10 December.
Violence against women and girls is deeply rooted in gender inequality and one of the most prevalent and pervasive human rights violations around the world. More than 1 in 3 women experience gender-based violence during their lifetime. This is why we all have an important role in preventing violence against women and girls, empowering survivors of gender-based violence, and protecting women's rights, in the private sphere, in our workplaces and in public life.
As part of its commitment to achieving gender equality and fostering a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, the Jožef Stefan Institute is strengthening its internal system for preventing and responding to gender-based violence. We are proud to join our Athena project partners in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign for a society free from gender-based violence.
For assistance and information regarding all forms of violence, harassment and mobbing at JSI please contact Iva Perhavec (070 594 068) or Junoš Lukan (01 477 30 34).
Professional support for people who have experienced violence is provided by external organisations and public bodies, whose contacts can be found here (the list is currently only available in Slovenian – please ask Iva if you need help in finding a contact).
HIGH-LEVEL VISIT ON GENDER EQUALITY AND INCLUSION
As part of the working visit to Slovenia of the European Commissioner for Equal Opportunities, Helena Dalli, and the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Marc Angel, accompanied by a delegation of Slovenian and European institutions and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Igor Papič, we welcomed the high-level guests at the Reactor Centre in Podgorica to reflect on the progress achieved towards gender equality. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the adoption of the JSI Gender Equality Plan, we presented to the delegation the actions and achievements in the field of gender equality, which have been importantly facilitated by the Athena project, funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme, and informed them about the work of the Commission for Equal Opportunities in Science. The discussion highlighted that equality, diversity and inclusion of all staff, regardless of gender and other personal circumstances, are the cornerstones of organizational success and are particularly important in the field of STEM to foster all potential and talents without discrimination. The delegation commended the Institute’s initiatives in fostering diversity and inclusion, recognizing them as a model for positive change. After a discussion on the shared commitment to equality, a presentation and a visit to the Reactor Infrastructure Centre followed.
CONTACT PERSONS IN CASES OF VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT AND MOBBING AT WORK
We would like to inform our colleagues that they can request assistance and information regarding all forms of violence, harassment and mobbing at work from the following counsellors appointed by the Director of the Institute, Prof. Dr. Boštjan Zalar:
If you are experiencing or have witnessed any form of violence, harassment or mobbing, or if you would simply like to talk about it, you can contact Iva and Junoš. All conversations will be kept confidential.
Language shapes our perception and understanding of the world and, as a key communication tool, plays an important role in expressing, promoting and strengthening gender equality and eliminating gender bias. For this purpose, JSI adopted the Guidelines for gender-sensitive language, which summarise the more comprehensive Guidelines for Gender- Sensitive Use of Language of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. In order to make language more inclusive, the guidelines provide guidance and examples on how to consistently use both gendered grammatical forms in all forms of communication in the Slovene language at the Institute, thereby avoiding the use of the so-called generic masculine form.
The recommendations are available here.
MONITORING THE INTEGRATION OF THE GENDER DIMENSION IN RESEARCH
Integrating a gender dimension in research and innovation contents generates meaningful and quality results for all people, regardless of their sex and/or gender, and thereby enhances the social relevance and usability of scientific knowledge, technologies, products and services. While the inclusion of a sex/gender analysis is not equally relevant or applicable to the contents of all research projects in the field of natural and life sciences and engineering, integrating a gender dimension is increasingly recognised as an important foundation for generating results and solutions that successfully address the needs of all people and the complex societal challenges of today, and as such an increasingly important criterion for excellence in science.
As part of JSI's broader efforts in the field of gender equality, we are introducing systematic monitoring of the integration of the gender dimension in the research content of projects implemented at the Institute. Guidance on how to assess the gender dimension in a research project is available here. The document includes links to useful resources and handbooks that offer examples of good practices on how to successfully integrate the gender dimension into research and teaching in natural sciences and engineering.
EVENT ON GENDER BARRIERS THAT YOUNG WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND ACADEMIA FACE AND THE APPROACHES THAT RESEARCHERS CAN ADOPT TO MINIMIZE THOSE BARRIERS
Dr. Mojca Otoničar from the Department of Electronic Ceramics organized a WIE (Women in Engineering) event at the International Conference on Ferroelectric Materials and Applications (IEEE ISAF-ISIF-PFM) in Cleveland, Ohio, USA on gender barriers that young women in science and academia face and the approaches that researchers can adopt to minimize those barriers. The author of the book 'Glass walls', Dr. Amy Diehl, presented six main barriers that women need to overcome in their career progression due to the society infiltrated gender biases. A panel discussion followed with esteemed scientists – Prof. Elizabeth Dickey from Carnegie Mellon University, USA, Prof. Beatriz Noheda from the University of Gröningen, the Netherlands, and Prof. Hiroko Yokota from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, who shared their opinions and experiences with systemic and informal approaches to provide equal opportunities for female researchers across countries and institutions.
JSI CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN IN ENGINEERING DAY
International Women in Engineering Day – INWED (23 June) is a day to celebrate women in engineering and encourage more women to pursue careers in this and related fields. Women have made significant contributions to engineering throughout history, however they remain underrepresented, especially in leadership positions and certain disciplines such as computer science, and their achievements are often overlooked and undervalued. Lack of diversity and inclusion represents a loss of talent and hinders innovation and societal progress by overlooking the perspectives, experiences and ideas of women.
On the occasion of INWED, the Jožef Stefan Institute honors the achievements of our colleagues who throughout their careers overcome barriers and break all-too-common stereotypes and biases about women in engineering and STEM. We are delighted and proud of the recent achievement of our colleague prof. dr. Spomenka Kobe, who was in June 2023 admitted in the Slovenian Academy of Engineering (IAS) as a regular member of this important institution bringing together the most eminent experts in engineering and technology. Prof. dr. Spomenka Kobe from the Department of Nanostructured Materials at the Jožef Stefan Institute and vice-president of the European Sustainable Energy Innovation Alliance (ESEIA) Governing Council, has made an outstanding contribution to sustainable development in environmental, economic and social terms through her high-quality work and has achieved breakthroughs in the field of magnetic materials. She is also a member of the Athena project consortium at the Jožef Stefan Institute, whose main objective is to implement gender equality plans at participating research institutions. Within the project, she actively participated in the preparation of the first institutional Gender Equality Plan for JSI and is a committed advocate for equal opportunities and gender equality in science.
On the occasion of INWED, we asked prof. dr. Spomenka Kobe what advice she would give to girls and young women considering a career in engineering.
»Be courageous and leave outdated prejudices behind. My field is magnetic materials used in wind generators and electric vehicles. At the beginning of my career, I was the only woman at international conferences, this field was typically a 'male domain'. Now, there are significantly more young women engineers in my field and today, when I attended an event dedicated to the recycling of waste magnets, much to my surprise and delight, there were at least 70% young women in the room.
The field of engineering is interesting, fun and exciting. When you create, say, a great magnet, or any material with useful properties, it is a wonderful feeling. Good luck!«
WORKSHOP ON THE PREVENTION OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of that person's gender, gender identity or gender expression, or violence that disproportionately affects persons of a particular gender. It may cause physical, sexual, emotional or psychological harm or economic loss to the person experiencing violence. Gender-based violence in all its forms, including sexual harassment, has a number of harmful consequences in research institutions and academic settings and has a negative impact on the quality of research and teaching. On 12 June 2023, the Jožef Stefan Institute hosted a workshop on the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence, delivered by doc. dr. Jasna Podreka from the Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Participants discussed forms of sexual and other forms of violence, harassment and mobbing, and how to respond when witnessing or experiencing inappropriate behaviour. The speaker presented systemic options for addressing and protecting people from harassment and violence, the legislative framework and the institute of trusted persons.
The workshop was implemented in the framework of the project Athena, financed by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
INVITATION TO WORKSHOP ON PREVENTING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
You are cordially invited to a workshop on the prevention of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, which will take place on 12 June 2023 from 14:00 to 16:00 in the JSI Main Lecture Hall. The workshop will also be streamed on Zoom. The workshop will be delivered by doc. dr. Jasna Podreka from the Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Please note the workshop will be held in Slovenian. No prior registration is required. For more information about the content of the event and the lecturer doc. dr. Jasna Podreka please see the invitation.
EUROPEAN DIVERSITY MONTH
May is European Diversity Month, dedicated to the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and wider society. This year the focus is on "Assessing diversity and inclusion" which the Institute is implementing through its Gender Equality Planand the collection and analysis of staff statistics. The Jožef Stefan Institute joins in celebrating the diversity of our nearly 1200 staff, which provides unique opportunities for collaboration, mutual learning and creativity. The Institute's valuable assets are its international researchers and the knowledge, expertise and experience they bring. Today, they represent 15% of the Institute's total staff and contribute importantly to shaping our scientific and research landscape.
AI4GOV PROJECT AT EVENT ON INTEGRATING THE GENDER DIMENSION IN RESEARCH
On 29 March 2023, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation hosted an event on How to address "Gender Equality and Gender Mainstreaming" in the Horizon Europe project application. Representatives of the European Commission and the Ministry briefed participants on the cross-cutting theme of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research and innovation and presented the upcoming Horizon Europe calls on this topic. The event showcased good practices in integrating a gender-sensitive approach in the content of Horizon Europe projects. Dr. Alenka Guček from the JSI Department for Artificial Intelligence presented the project "Trusted AI for Transparent Public Governance fostering Democratic Values (AI4Gov)" and the methodology of the project aimed at an intersectional bias analysis (including gender dimension) to examine and understand the effect of bias on AI, big data and democracy by developing bias detector toolkit and a library of explainable artificial intelligence models. Participants agreed that gender equality and an interdisciplinary approach are key for achieving excellence in science.
JSI COLLEAGUE CHAIRS THE COMMISSION FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES IN SCIENCE
In March 2023, doc. dr. Kristina Žagar Soderžnik, researcher at the Department of Nanostructured Materials at JSI, took up the position of Chair of the Commission for Equal Opportunities in Science for the mandate period 2023 - 2026. The Commission is an expert body of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation with the important task of eliminating all forms of inequality in science and supporting a balanced representation of all, regardless of gender and other personal circumstances. Doc. dr. Kristina Žagar Soderžnik, an active member of the Science on the Street project, stresses the importance of inclusivity and equality in science:
"As a researcher of the younger generation, I am familiar with the issues of young people in science, both women and men and young parents. From my own experience and education at universities in Slovenia and abroad, I am aware of the importance of dialogue and the establishment of new norms in science for young and early career scientists. As a research team leader, I am aware of the many obstacles and pitfalls encountered by not only local but also foreign scientists who wish to gain employment and establish themselves in Slovenian institutions. This is why I am actively committed to equal opportunities for all in science, regardless of gender, race, age, or position. I hope that in the next four years, the Commission will help to bring about changes for a better future for women and men scientists. I believe that if we want to see change, we need to be vocal and visible about it. The role of Chair of the Commission is one way to be seen and heard."
We wish her every success in her new role!
GENDER EQUALITY DAYS
On 8 March, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana hosted the opening event of this year's Gender Equality Days. Dr. Romana Jordan, Assistant Director for EU Affairs at the IJS, who coordinates the Athena project at the Institute, Prof. Dr. Milica Antić Gaber (Faculty of Arts, UL), Prof. Dr. Vesna Leskošek (Faculty of Social Work, UL) and Dr. Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc (ZRC SAZU) participated at the opening roundtable. They spoke about the constraints they faced in designing gender equality plans, which included obtaining gender-disaggregated data at the organisational level, and the challenges faced by women in academia, such as gender pay gap and career progression.
Dr. Romana Jordan spoke about the Institute's sustainable business model, which, by being sensitive to diversity, provides a supportive working environment for all. To this end, the JSI recruited a Gender Equality, Ethics and Conflict Resolution Officer shortly before the formal adoption of the Gender Equality Plan.
Read more about the event in the press release. Information on the upcoming Gender Equality Days is available on the Faculty of Arts website. (both in Slovene language)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
The International Women's Day celebrates the social, political, economic and cultural achievements of women around the world and calls for further action to achieve gender equality. The theme for this year's IWD, set by the UN »DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality« highlights the important contributions of women and girls in the fields of technology and digital education. Women's full participation in technology brings more creative solutions and innovations that better address women's needs and promote gender equality, however a persistent gender gap in digital access keeps women from unlocking technology’s full potential. The chosen theme aims to examine the impact of the digital gender divide on widening economic and social inequalities. It highlights the importance of protecting women's and girls' rights in the digital space and the issue of online and gender-based violence enabled by ICTs. On the occasion of 8 March, we congratulate our female staff for their many achievements and thank all our colleagues for their support in achieving gender equality at the Institute and in society at large.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SCIENCE
On 11 February we celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGIS). This year, it is dedicated to the role that women scientists have in developing solutions which support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. On this occasion, on 16 February 2023 the Jožef Stefan Institute in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia held a lecture by Dr. Aubrey R. Paris, Policy Advisor on Gender, Climate Change & Innovation in the Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues (S/GWI) at the U.S. Department of State, where she leads policy and public diplomacy efforts related to the nexus of gender and climate change.
Dr. Paris presented the domino effect of the climate crisis which has particularly significant effects on women and girls in regions of existing fragility or instability, such as increased risk of gender-based violence and displacement. She presented the two-pronged approach to the gender-climate nexus, which includes both addressing disproportionate impacts of the effects of climate change on women and girls and empowering women and girls as leaders and agents of change in combatting the climate crisis. Through a presentation of practical examples of women-led technological and programmatic solutions, Dr. Paris emphasized the contribution of women and girls worldwide to addressing challenges directly or indirectly linked to climate change and environmental degradation. Lastly, she stressed the importance of building networks of women and girls across countries, regions, or globally to share best practices and replicate effective solutions.
ATHENA PROJECT NEWSLETTER
The third issue of the Athena project newsletter is now available, which provides information on the events and activities JSI and our project partners have carried out over the past months.
TRAINING FOR JSI STAFF
The Gender Equality Plan Implementation (GEPI) Committee and the Horizon 2020-funded Athena project consortium organized a series of five training sessions for JSI staff in October and November 2022, addressing different aspects of promoting gender equality and strengthening an inclusive organizational culture at the Institute. External speakers and lecturers, as well as a number of colleagues, were involved in the delivery of the trainings and shared their knowledge and skills needed to promote gender equality in the work environment. As many as 200 employees learned about the impact and consequences of unconscious bias and discussed how to promote gender equality in the context of recruitment and career progression policies, decision-making and leadership processes at the Institute, and work-life balance. A training on the topic of ethics and integrity in scientific research was also organized.
Recordings of all events with English subtitles are available here.
ADOPTION OF THE GENDER EQUALITY PLAN
In October 2022, the Scientific Council of the Jožef Stefan Institute approved the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) for the JSI, which was prepared by the members of the Athena project consortium, based on several years of efforts by colleagues to introduce measures to promote gender equality at the Institute. In order to prepare an effective plan that will adequately address the key challenges and needs of the Institute in this area, a comprehensive situational analysis in the field of gender equality at the JSI was carried out. Recognizing that the success and effectiveness of the planned measures at the level of the organization requires the active involvement of all employees, the Gender Equality Plan Implementation (GEPI) Committee lead a broad discussion on the content of the plan through the JSI Scientific Advisory Boards, whose suggestions for the improvement of the document were duly taken into account. The plan sets forth a set of measurable and time-bound commitments and proposed actions to promote sustainable organizational change that will support gender equality and equal opportunities for all employees and contribute to a stimulating, inclusive and safe working environment for employees and students, thereby fostering research creativity and scientific excellence.
The English version of the plan is available here.
GENDER EQUALITY PLAN IMPLEMENTATION (GEPI) COMMITTEE
On 17 August 2021, within the activities of the European project Athena: Implementing gender equality plans to unlock research potential of RPOs and RFOs in Europe, the Gender Equality Plan Implementation (GEPI) Committee was established at the Jožef Stefan Institute. The Chair of the Committee, Prof. Dr. Barbara Malič, briefed the members on the content and objectives of the Athena project, as well as on the role and tasks of the Committee. The GEPI Committee is composed of representatives of different target groups of employees (the management, researchers, administration, Secretariat and young researchers). The Committee will play a key role in the introduction and implementation of institutional changes at the JSI, as well as in the successful implementation of the Athena project.
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