Deliverable 5.2.2 Working with Gender and Excellence in the Local Context
FESTA work with gender and excellence in researchers’ daily environments started with a mapping of ideas among researchers in three European countries about research excellence, excellence funding and the impact of the excellence concept. Based on this mapping, workshops were conducted among researchers to discuss the results. This report summarizes the results of the mapping, our experiences of conducting the workshops, the work that is presently going on at our institutions, related to managing the downsides of the excellence quest, as well as the lessons we learnt along the way.
The mapping and the workshops took place at South-West University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.
Our main finding is that the national/institutional context is crucial for this kind of task and that there is probably no method that fits all. The situation in Bulgaria is vastly different from that of Western Europe (Germany and Sweden), and more favourable to using excellence as leverage for introducing ideas of gender equality:
• At South-West University the combination of the two new concepts, excellence and gender, raised new insights and changed attitudes.
• At RWTH Aachen University, where excellence is viewed as a positive concept, there was practically no interest in discussing the gender and excellence relation among the academic staff.
• At Uppsala University, where the academics generally were critical to the concept, the task contributed to ongoing work for improving working environments and gender equality, and gave an impetus to new actions.
Thus, the report describes three very different experiences, placing them in their local context. It ends with two sets of recommendations for working with gender equality issues related to excellence at institutional and departmental levels.