Why did you take part in the initiative Sexism in Danish Higher Education and Research…
We, the group behind the initiative, emphasize that sexism needs to be addressed at all levels in parallel if sexism is to be effectively countered.
This includes individuals acting. All individuals – those who experience sexism, those who witness it. Those in power positions – all types of power, formal and informal. And especially leaders, because they carry extra responsibility for the working environment and for their employees and their careers, possibilities and openings, their well-being and potential for growing and contributing.
The handbook provides many tools and insights that point to how such action can take form and place.
But it also – crucially – requires that institutions act in ways that can effectively address and counter sexism. In ways, that may make it easier for individuals to speak up. And that can ensure that we all have a good and sound knowledge base on which to act.
Institutional action includes establishing and nurturing systems, processes and designated bodies at the institutional as well as the national levels – in short, an effective infrastructure for both handling and preventing sexism and for clearly making the eradication of sexism a priority.
Based on current research and good practices throughout international academia, we propose a detailed and implementable plan for what such an effective organization must include. This covers two crucial aspects: a) thorough and continuously updated data and detailed knowledge base, and b) national bodies and procedures. At the national level our recommendation is to establish three bodies that together may address complementary aspects and needs arising from a sexist culture in Academia:
- An academic ombudsfunction
- A national committee on academic integrity and ethical conduct
- A national sexism support unit for all higher education institutions.
At the institutional level our recommendation includes:
- An expanded whistleblower scheme, which is equipped to handle or refer cases of sexism
- Case handling: Internal administrative processes, systems of reporting and follow-up;
- An institutional committee for academic integrity and ethical conduct;
- A MeToo coordinator / sexism support unit at university level;
- Gender equality unit / Diversity, Equality, Inclusion team;
- Systematic embedding and integration of GE/DEI perspectives into organizational and administrative core practices, such as HR systems and procedures and communication and marketing;
- Capacity building, training and systematic awareness raising – including bystander training.
Such an infrastructure will have tangible and positive effects for Academia: It would comply with the increased focus on measures to prevent gender-based violence for instance in the European Commission and the EU funding programmes, thus increasing the eligibility for receiving funding. And it will improve working environment and psychological safety, with the foreseen effect that the leaky pipeline and problems of drop-out, especially for people in precarious positions, may be alleviated.