ECWO joined the other EQUAL4EUROPE consortium members in Barcelona last week for a conference to look back on the four-year long project’s achievements and main results.

ECWO’s Executive Director, Prof. Hanneke Takkenberg, and EQUAL4EUROPE researchers Kirsten Kardijk and Gaby Dijkstra joined partners from Comenius University (Bratislava), IEDC-Bled School of Management, ESMT (European School of Management and Technology), INSEAD (Institut Europeen d’Administration des Affaires), EFMD and Nehem for the event.

Among the areas covered was a presentation of EQUAL4EUROPE’s methodology and key findings, a discussion on creating synergies on gender equality throughout European research institutions, a presentation on using comics to integrate the gender dimension in teaching, and a roundtable on how to attract and retain female talent in academia.

Speaking as part of the latter, Prof. Takkenberg noted that “while policies might sound outstanding, if you don’t have social safety in your institution  any policy or initiative regarding DEI is bound to fail”. She also answered a question from the audience on whether focusing only on gender was enough by saying: “I think it is important to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion from a broader perspective and looking at intersectionality is very important here. But the implementation and development of gender equality policies can be a significant driver of change in other aspects of diversity and inclusion.”

The aim of the EQUAL4EUROPE project has been to develop gender equality standards focusing on arts, humanities, medicine, social sciences, business and law (AHMSSBL) research institutions and develop and implement tailored Gender Equality Plans in the different research performing institutions to achieve a sustainable cultural and institutional change. Among these is Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) where ECWO is based.

An element of ECWO’s participation was the development of the concept of the avatar game as a way of mitigating unconscious bias. As part of the presentation of posters at the conference, ECWO gave insight into how the game entails a simulation in which participants can get to know their avatar colleagues by discovering aspects of them through casual conversation – and how this impacts whether they made choices based on what they actually know or based on assumptions.

A highlight of the concluding conference was the presentation of the EQUAL4EUROPE Handbook.

‘Working on this project has been really special,” shared Prof. Takkenberg. “We added to each other’s work and jointly put all the pieces of the puzzle together.”


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Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO) is committed to fostering inclusion. Our founding purpose in 2014 was to empower women and to create a level playing field by building communities for organisational change. Today, ECWO has expanded its perspective to embrace a wider vision of a world of inclusive prosperity. Our new mission is to create a sense of belonging for everyone within organisations through diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), anchored in social safety. We strive for settings where everyone feels valued, respected and supported. We conduct research and produce evidence-led educational programmes, events, coaching, advocacy, and advisory services. We stay true to our roots, and we have evolved to recognise that achieving true inclusion and equity requires encompassing all, regardless of gender or identity.

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