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New strategic gender equality initiative launched

Thursday April 12th 2018, SDU officially launched its new strategic gender equality initiative with a kick-off symposium where SDU’s newly established International Gender Advisory Board presented their recommendations for SDU’s gender equality endeavors.

Among the 100 attendees were heads of departments, representatives from the Faculties’ local gender equality boards, and also several members of SDU’s Executive Board including the Vice-Chancellor.

As part of the new gender equality initaitive, the Executive Board itself has requested a workshop on unconscious bias, one of the initial three GE-focal areas. This workshop took place on the same day, prior to the afternoon’s kick-off symposium.

In the afternoon, the Dean of the Faculty of Science and chairman of SDU’s central gender equality board, Martin Zachariasen, started the symposium with a brief presentation of SDU’s strategic gender equality initiative.Zachariasen intro

Martin next introduced the convener of the symposium, Dean at the Faculty of Business and Social Science, Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, who facilitated the rest of the symposium's program. Malchow-Moeller

The main part of the symposium consisted of short presentations by the members of the International Gender Advisory Board. IGABs at SDU

Each member gave their individual recommendations to SDU’s gender equality efforts.Yvonne at SDU

Prior to the symposium, the members had been briefed by SDU’s Gender Equality Team concerning the background, context and plans for the initiative, and their recommendations were based on three questions sent to them prior to the symposium:

  1. Given your experience and expertise and what you know of SDU and Denmark, what in your perspective are the most important steps in order for positive, visible and indisputable changes to take place?
  2. If you were to implement a GE-initiative at SDU from tomorrow, what would be your first, second and third priority? What specific actions? 
  3. Given your experience and expertise and what you know of SDU and Denmark, what would in your eyes be the first action SDU could take in order for the Danish university and higher education sector to come together on an effective gender equality agenda? 

Heidi at SDU

Included in the various recommendations from SDU’s International Gender Advisory Board were:

  • Securing a clear leadership anchoring and commitment to the gender equality work at SDU
  • Creating and utilizing relations to existing and new allies, key people and networks
  • Establishing a solid and accessible gender equality database, preferably including national data
  • Working with increasing awareness of the gender equality initiative
  • Using a multipronged approach to gender equality endeavors, employing a wide lense when addressing (gender) diversity in research and among researchers
  • Actively addressing and working with the resistance that the gender equality initiative may encounter
  • Ensuring a clear and systematic continuous evaluation and monitoring of the gender equality endeavor’s results

Attendees from panel

Following the presentations, the recommendations were elaborated and discussed with reflections and questions from the attendees. Lively discussions emerged on subjects such as the Danish and European political framework for gender equality work at the Danish Universities, how it is both useful and problematic to work actively with unconscious bias, and how gender equality change agents can benefit from approaching such work as “tempered radicals”.

The kick-off symposium concluded with an early evening reception where the themes and discussions of the day continued.

Editing was completed: 11.04.2018