The SDU project is to raise gender equality within European universities.

The University of Southern Denmark's Gender Equality Team has received a grant of DKK 22 million from the EU for a project to implement equality action plans at SDU and eight other European universities over the next four years.

By Bolette Marie Kjær Jørgensen, , 1/22/2019

Internationally, the EU and LERU (League of European Research Universities) are increasingly concerned with how gender diversity is improving in education and research. There has long been a particular emphasis on increasing the proportion of women among researchers.

- Few women in research is not just a problem for women. It has consequences for society in a broader sense, because we do not create solutions that embrace our entire population, because there is not equal opportunity and equal access for all and because we do not get to use all the talent, we have, says Eva Sophia Myers.

She is a team leader in SDU's Gender Equality Team, which is tasked with influencing the structural and cultural barriers that may hamper gender equality at SDU.

Major EU grant

The work on gender equality at SDU by Eva Sophia Myers and her colleagues has led to the major EU Horizon 2020 support programme for research and innovation allocating them DKK 22 million to coordinate a four-year equality project: SPEAR (Supporting and Implementing Plans for Gender Equality in Academia and Research).

The project aims to promote knowledge about how gender equality is systematically protected across nine EU countries on the basis of the experiences of SDU among other things. One of the goals of the project is to develop tools that can support work on gender equality and equal treatment.

-The project is born of the fact that there must be more systems and structures in place in the work on equality in universities if it is to have a real effect.

Systemic equality

-The unique feature of the project is the combination of practice, training programmes and structured exchange of experience. There is no doubt that if we are to create a process of change, it will require entirely new skills in how we recruit, but also in how we cooperate, says Eva Sophia Myers.

She is supported by SDU's Vice-chancellor Henrik Dam.

- It is important that we focus on the problem of gender equality at all universities, as it is a major problem in the university world that talented women slip through the cracks of our system. Their qualifications may benefit other public and private companies, but what if they could have been our next top professor? SDU’s strategic goal is to bring everyone and the best talent into play at SDU, and nobody should be systematically overlooked. Hopefully, the knowledge generated from this EU project can be one of the ways we make sure that all talent comes into play when looking for new employees.