Recommendations to instructors and parents and for local organizations
To instructors and parents
Instructors and parents have an important role to play in changing societal perceptions and stereotypes towards women in science and in engaging girls in primary, secondary, and higher education.
- Avoid gender stereotyping and unconscious gender bias in interactions with female students and children. Adopt practices that encourage girls to participate in scientific activities in schools and non-school settings. Teach boys and girls gender equity.
- Avoid books and social media that reinforce the gender gap in science. Use books and media promoting gender balance and highlighting the contributions of women in science.
- Develop gender awareness in the classroom and encourage girls in their learning of scientific subjects. Track who you are engaging in class to ensure that every student has a chance to participate and that girls feel comfortable in speaking up.
- Encourage relevant single-sex activities to raise and boost girls’ self-confidence and possibilities for expressing themselves.
For local organizations
We continue with recommendations for scientific or higher educational organizations of all kinds, since these are the places where scientific life takes place daily. These are to all types of scientific or educational venues, such as universities’ science departments, conference centers, research groups in industry, among others.
- Promote a respectful, collegial working atmosphere. Monitor support, well-being, and mentoring of female academics.
- Define best practices to prevent, report, and address sexual harassment and discrimination in professional spaces.
- Address the impact of parenthood on the careers of women. Introduce proper accounting for childcare responsibilities (18 months per child recommended) when evaluating candidates in hiring and promotions processes. In practice, this applies mainly to women. Encourage provision of a research-only year after maternity or parental leave. Acknowledge and accept the existence of discontinuous careers and family responsibilities and take these into account in hiring and funding policies.
- Ensure transparency of statistics on salaries, course loads, bonuses, hiring and promotion, observing progress or difficulties experienced by female academics. Encourage policies to help reduce gendered salary disparities. Ensure female and male representation on recruitment committees and provide unconscious bias training for all members. Make the gender lens the responsibility of a dedicated person.
- Welcome families and provide child friendly environments. Provide improved support systems for parents. Allocate teaching loads with suitable hours for parents. For conference centers, take care of the issues of families attending with children and equip family rooms in the guest houses to cater for all basic needs (for instance children’s toys, high chairs, and changing tables for babies).
- Address gender equality in all institutional policies. Identify a person or a group in charge of gender equality inside the organization, looking at the gender balance in all kinds of activities. Put in place initiatives encouraging women. Involve men in identifying barriers and addressing them. Diversity action plans should have financial consequences if not met.
- In all outreach and educational programs, include the aim of reducing the gender gap. Adapt such programs to the region or discipline concerned by the organization and evaluate their effectiveness. Develop gender awareness of future teachers and provide training in critical thinking.
Marie-Françoise Roy et Colette Guillopé