The academic world does not discriminate per se between men and women. It is not easier to become a professor while being a man. There are no physical barriers or unfair rules. Instead, yes, there are invisible obstacles, prejudices and social conditioning factors.
My personal and academic career could be one of many examples. I started opting for a contracted position when I was a Secondary Education official. I chose the university because at the end of my doctoral thesis I saw the possibility of creating knowledge, of discovering new paths, of forming from the restlessness … and that sensation is addictive. At that time, she also lived the experience of being a mother and combined breastfeeding, parenting, with publications and stays in other universities but not without a great feeling of guilt. I have combined the creation of a research group, the supervision of doctoral theses, and academic management with the family. In all this time I was always surprised that the questions they asked me about having children did not happen to men.
I can say that, in my case, being the rector of the Universitat Jaume I I consider it and I live it as a collective achievement and I collect part of the work done. I have been fortunate to have some statutes written in female thanks to the Isonomia Foundation. The feminist research Institute Purificación Escribano and the Equality Unit have been working for equality for years. A great deal of work has been done from research, training and awareness throughout these years and today, after 28 years, a woman leads my university for the first time. That said, I would be lying if I said that there is no glass ceiling in the University and I am aware of it.
Therefore, from my position I feel the obligation to make visible future challenges in the field of equality and universities. So last November, it was organized at the Universitat Jaume I the first summit of rectors of public universities. Of the 55 public universities, only eight are headed by a rector [el Gobierno ha elegido a una octava para la Menéndez Pelayo, María Luz Morán]. Each one made a valuation of the achievements reached in our respective universities and they were collected, in the call Declaration of Castellón, some necessary measures to continue advancing in the area of equality. Among the proposed measures, I would highlight the following: increase the visibility of women in government bodies; include more women in university awards such as doctors honoris cause -Considered the highest academic level-; incorporate measures of positive discrimination in the own investigation plans to promote the leadership of the researchers; contemplate in the research career maternity and / or dependent care periods; prepare budgets with a gender perspective as well as increase the budget allocated to gender policies; strengthen the equality units and promote policies of zero tolerance against sexist violence.
The conclusions of the summit of directors have been transferred to the Secretary of State of Universities under the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, which has created a working group on gender and university policies. The purpose of the same is to incorporate the gender perspective in everything that affects university policies in the new law of universities and in how many guidelines and standards affect the University. The group has already had its first meeting, and has proposed, as one of the first measures, that in the evaluation of the sexenios of investigation that the CNEAI realizes the periods of maternity of the investigators. I hope that this measure can be included as soon as possible because it is a pending claim. The biological stoppages that women have due to motherhood suppose, in many cases, an obstacle in the professional and research career.
However, although it is necessary to continue introducing measures to promote equality in the university environment, we can not forget that it is equally necessary to end some prejudices that have an impact on the professional trajectory of people. One of them is that it is thought that women are more of letters and men more of sciences. To do this, we must break the gender gap that has persisted for years in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM fields for its acronym in English. It is urgent to end this gap because it supposes to exclude from science an important part of society, women. This gap not only hurts women, but affects all of society, because with it, a significant part of talent is renounced. A talent that we miss, as we also waste the impact that this talent would have to improve our society.
Perhaps the time has also come to detect and name the existing hidden resistances and rethink if we recognize and respect the position we hold in the same way that a man is respected. In other words, are they still addressing us with some offensive authority? If so, in addition to the measures necessary to advance in equality, we need to detect and respond to these hidden resistances that also exist in the University. Otherwise, it is difficult to assert that equality is a reality in the academic environment. Exposing and demonstrating these hidden resistances is part of the commitment that, from my position, I have acquired to advance toward a fair, equal and respectful university.
Eva Alcón she is rector University Jaume I