Ca’ Foscari’s Gender Equality Plan

Ca’ Foscari has long been committed to the development of projects and actions aimed at promoting gender equality. In particular, it is among the first Italian universities to have used feminine as well as masculine qualifications in staff’s personal pages, and since 2018 gender transitioning students can join Ca’ Foscari with an ALIAS

The university’s commitment is also evident in the introduction of activities such as working from home, coworking and distance working, as well as in the development of welfare and health assistance, with a view to improving work-life balance. Thanks to these efforts, Ca’ Foscari obtained the Family Audit Certification from the Province of Trento. The university also implemented measures to contrast gender stereotypes and violence, such as the Equal Opportunities, Employee Well-Being and Inclusion Committee and the Confidential Counsellor.

Ca’ Foscari has included its commitment to gender equality among the transversal factors of the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, publishing the new Gender Equality Plan (GEP). The document lists a series of actions that aim to reduce gender asymmetry and to develop a more caring and inclusive culture, which can give value to diversity thanks to institutional and cultural changes.

“This plan must not be regarded only as the fulfilment of a formal requirement of the European Commission. The underlying logic of the Plan is to actually achieve gender equality at Ca’ Foscari. This means we should not only avoid discrimination, but also actively embrace differences and take further steps towards real equality,” says Professor Sara De Vido, Rector’s Delegate for Gender Equality. “The actions that are contemplated in the Plan require the effort of the entire Ca’ Foscari community. I wish to thank the people who, in October 2021, started working hard and with great spirit of collaboration and sharing to write the GEP.”

The GEP includes approximately 50 target actions to be developed over the next three years (by the end of 2024), in six areas of the university: hiring and career progression, research and teaching, leadership and decision-making bodies, fight against gender-based violence, and work-life balance. The achievement of each objective will be monitored thanks to specific indicators, surveys and periodic reviews. 

Target actions include extending the ALIAS profile to gender-transitioning staff by 2023 and updating the guidelines on inclusive language by 2022. In order to promote cultural change and to oppose every form of discrimination, the university aims to improve its educational offer by adding Professional Master’s Coursesprofessional development courses, massive open online courses (MOOC)Minors and other education and training opportunities on gender and diversity by 2024.

When it comes to STEM subjects, Ca’ Foscari already offers scholarships and financial aid that will be further implemented and extended to PhD programmes, with a view to reducing the gender gap in research. In 2022, further initiatives in this field will include special orientation sessions for female high school students, and the implementation of a series of measures to overcome the gender asymmetry in conference panels. Finally, the university plans to install some vending machines for menstrual products with controlled prices by 2023/2024 and to establish one Delegate for Gender Equality per department.

The European Commission’s Gender Equality Strategy 2020/2025 requires that all research institutes and higher education institutes devise a Gender Equality Plan. Ca’ Foscari created a workgroup that included representatives of all the members of the university community, and was coordinated by Professor Sara De Vido. The workgroup aimed to strengthen gender equality in work and study places, removing the obstacles that hinder actual equality. In devising the Plan, the workgroup focussed on the topic of difference and discrimination — not only gender-based discrimination, but also discrimination related to intersectional characteristics that can affect the university community. This is a first step towards the development of other participatory processes that can lead to the creation of an increasingly inclusive university environment. 

Author: Federica Biscardi / Translator: Joangela Ceccon