Gender Equality Annual Report 2018

The decision to prepare an annual Gender Equality Report as part of the performance cycle has two effects: on the one hand, to identify the impact of the work performed and, on the other, to monitor the gender inequalities that persist internally.

Introduced last year, the UGII (University Gender Inequality Index) is included in this Gender Equality Annual Report in order to estimate, as a single value, the University gender gap with respect to theoretical perfect parity.

With respect to 2017, the UGII reported in this edition identifies that the situation actually deteriorated in 2018, albeit slightly. Analysing the detailed data, as the Report does with great clarity, we note that this change was due not only to general inertia within the system, but also to the gender balance on the Student Council: in particular, a number of elected members completed their University careers during 2018 and were replaced in elections that raised the number of men to 30. Therefore, the Student Council now only has 9 female members. We have already had an opportunity to discuss this outcome with the Council. It seems to me, from a certain standpoint, that the lack of balance within such an important body reflects a somewhat common attitude among the new generations, who tend to disregard the problem of gender inequality on the presumed basis that it has already been resolved.

The young people active in society today, or at least those most involved in international mobility, are much more engaged by the concept of intersectionality and how discrimination in terms of gender, ability, ethnicity, culture, language and age is interrelated. We should view this development with optimism and hope, in the knowledge that we can only truly build a more equal world by addressing all forms of otherness. Nevertheless, we still need to keep a close eye on this Report, which mirrors issues and trends found externally that reinforce serious discrimination in the workplace: at higher echelons in the industrialised countries and among the most disadvantaged in emerging countries. Without wishing to shatter the illusions of those young persons who believe that the battles of their mothers and grandmothers were sufficient to assure them of a better world, we must still strive, even more pro-actively and fervently, to reduce inequality and encourage the younger generations to follow a different path, not least in cultural terms. In order to achieve true equality, further efforts must be made by the decision-making bodies of the University, by those most closely involved in recruitment, by those active in the STEM area, where the general lack of female representation is almost alarming, and by those operating in the Humanities, Social Sciences and preparations for the “caring” professions where, by contrast, men are underrepresented:

This is not sufficient, considering that the improvement with regard to full professors was minimal. As a community, we have already shown that we can achieve strong results in research and competitive funding, renew our teaching methods and, with conviction, open up to civil society and the business world: so why such strong, even paralysing resistance to change in the area of gender inequality? Perhaps we are held back by subconscious stereotypes. At the conscious level we are all ready to confirm that we have cast off our chains and preconceived ideas; accordingly, I want to encourage the entire community and, above all, the new generations, to embark on profound cultural change. Only in this way can we open the door to equality at a deeper level: another essential step in the improvement of this University and our country as a whole.

 

Francesco Ubertini
Rector
Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna