Balance for Better: more initiatives and action plans

We’ve had a great response to our series celebrating initiatives that support #BalanceforBetter and gender equality. Here are some additional projects our Editorial Board are keen for you to know about.

Pride Lion Conservation Alliance
Amy Dickman

PRIDE_Logo_Color_PrimaryI am a founding member of the Pride Lion Conservation Alliance which is a group of six leading women who run effective, grassroots lion conservation projects. We formed the Alliance to support each other to achieve better conservation aims, but also to achieve better balance between our work and personal lives, so that we could have long, fulfilled and happy careers. As part of Pride, we are collaborating with Colorado State University and Pathways Africa to launch an initiative next year on empowering female African conservation leaders, which we hope will raise the capacity of more women in conservation, and ensure women are better represented in leadership roles.

The Basque Centre for Climate Change – Gender Action Plan
Ainhoa Magrach

Achieving gender equality in research is still an important challenge that has become a priority across many institutions. Indeed, although the total number of female scientists increases every year, there is still a lack of female researchers at the top positions of most institutions. The Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) aspires to achieve a gender-balanced structure by the end of 2020. To this end, the center has created a Gender Action Plan and is working with the support of gender and equality consultant specialists. During this time, a Gender Balance Team will be created including staff members with different backgrounds (administrative, researchers, students) and, together with a consulting company, a Gender Balance Plan will be created using indicators from different data collected (e.g., salaries, categories) and interviews conducted to all staff members. This is a work in progress but hopefully at the end of the year, this information will helps us devise specific actions to improve gender balance within our research institution. I believe that more actions like these should be taken by research institutions in order to give achieving gender balance the importance it deserves.

Steven Vamosi

In the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary, we recognise that there are many equity-seeking groups in most STEM fields that are working to improve equity, and inclusion. To that end, a faculty-level Diversity and Equity Committee was established in 2015, and I was appointed as the inaugural Associate Dean, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in early 2016. In that role, I led the development of an umbrella programme, InspiR³E, which tackles EDI issues along what I like to think of as the entire career arc. The “I” in InspiR³E is exactly that, Inspire, focused on providing hands-on STEM learning opportunities for youth. One example of that area is the Technovation Challenge, in which girls ages 10 to 18 identify a problem in their community, create a mobile app solution to address that problem, and learn to communicate these ideas and translate them into a fully launched business. The R³ represents Recruit, Retain, and Recognize, focused on identifying and overcoming systemic biases and hurdles in the system that have previously led to the departure of individuals from equity-seeking groups to leave STEM fields. For example, we provide search committee training that focuses on consistent scoring methods and meeting protocols to minimize impacts of implicit bias in candidate evaluations. Finally, the E is for Elevate, which provides development opportunities and support to propel individuals into leadership, recognizing that women and others have traditionally been underrepresented as Heads, Deans, board members and more.

Other initiatives to explore:

aKidemic – a parental support initiative for academics

Ladies of Landsat – in their own words, ‘spreading female badassery across the globe’ via the platform of Twitter

Shared parental leave – as Associate Editor, Cristina Banks-Leite points, out this initiative (relatively new for many) across places of work deserves a mention:

I think universities are doing their bit (well at least mine is) to help with the issue in academia. Now male partners are entitled to 18 weeks full pay of leave, which makes a big difference to the female academic staff. My university also gives a fellowship to those post-parental leave, to relieve them of teaching and admin duties. I do think that making it more attractive for men to take parental leave is going to increase equity a little.

Do you know of any great initiatives promoting gender balance that haven’t yet had a mention? Leave a comment below or Tweet us @JAppliedEcolology.

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