Territorial RRI through the Involvement of Local R&I Actors in Central Macedonia
At the kick-off meeting of the Horizon 2020 project “TRANSFORM” on the 3rd of March, Nikos Zaharis from TeRRItoria consortium member South-East European Research Centre (SEERC) spoke about the project’s transformative experiment for the Region of Central Macedonia.
While this region of Greece enjoys a high degree of Research & Innovation (R&I) activities and a willingness to make use of new technologies, it also has a low representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and among the higher management levels of R&I, as well as experiencing pronounced brain drain of ICT experts from the region.
To meet these drawbacks, TeRRItoria will introduce a regional Gender Equality Plan (GEP) there in order to increase female uptake of and participation in STEM subjects, with a special emphasis on ICT. Issues to be addressed will include: the gender wage gap, hiring procedures at both academic and industry level, and the “glass ceiling” in local R&I. Impact assessments of current procedures and practices will be used to identify gender bias in participating organisations. Subsequently, innovative strategies will be defined in order to correct any bias. Lastly, targets will be set and indicators monitored so as to keep track of progress towards a more equitable R&I environment in Central Macedonian STEM.
In his presentation, Nikos outlined some examples of interventions worth promoting, such as: bias-free recruitment, gender-aware science, improved work-life balance, female leadership in scientific communication, gender-sensitive communication from institutions, gender balance in decision-making, and internal awareness-raising on gender issues.
Academia, industry, civil society, national government, active groups of women, and other minority groups are all potentially actors able to take part in the implementation of the GEP this project will result in.
With SEERC’s input, TeRRItoria expects to improve gender equality not just in numerical terms, but also qualitatively. The project will bring transformational, institutional change to participating actors, set up and run a Quadruple Helix Action Group on R&I, Gender and Social Inclusion, enable transferability of best practices at both EU and regional level, and contribute to achieving the European Research Area objectives for gender equality and gender mainstreaming (ERA priority number 4). Lastly, RRI will be integrated into the strategic document of the new Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy, including a declaration of principles which makes specific reference to gender issues and equality principles and gender indicators for both the funding of new initiatives and the monitoring of results of the S3 strategy.