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GENDER EQUALITY PLAN

For guiding our development over the next funding period, we have devised the current Gender Equality Plan. It is to be understood as a living document, to be updated and improved as we learn.

1. INTRODUCTION

CHASE is a competence center featuring industrial research and research management in several sectors. As such, we offer the opportunities to work on several levels, including operational, management, and leadership.

We are aware of the challenges women are facing as they attempt to climb the ladder from operational expert to top management and leading positions in the industries[1]. The obstacles are summarized in the notion of ‘Second Generation Bias’ [2], encompassing the often imperceptible contextual disadvantages that are caused mainly by traditional societal expectations and perceptions about the particular skills of leaders vs. a (gender-biased) attribution of personality traits[3].

While most study programs feature a percentage > 50% of women (Bildung-STATISTIK AUSTRIA - Die Informationsmanager), the technical study programs are one of the notable exceptions, with 28.9% of female graduates in 2020/21 (which, notably, is an increase of about 7.5 p.p. compared to 10 years before). The percentage of women professors at Austrian universities is currently at about 26% (across all faculties: Österreich-Frauenanteil Universitätsbereich 2020|Statista); and, as of 2023, the share of women in leading positions in Austria is around 10% (10.5% CEOs, 9.0% Executive positions in publicly traded companies, AK.Frauen. Management.Report.2023.pdf (arbeiterkammer.at)).

While these impediments tend to be operative across all major industries, we believe that our center (an organization of currently about 50 highly educated and highly aware employees) poses a unique opportunity to implement and live a modern organizational culture that grants equal opportunities for all genders on all levels. Currently at CHASE, there are 41% of female employees, and we have no reason to doubt that this number will increase over the next years, on the grounds of our recruitment policy and HR development measures.

On a somewhat less tangible level, we believe the already large number of female employees and our established purpose-oriented collaboration and communication structure foster collaborative but strong management and leadership strategies.

Notably, the pursuit of a gender-neutral approach to recruiting is challenged by the low number of female graduates in the technical sciences; also in the low number of students altogether in the polymer engineering departments which makes recruiting difficult in the first place; furthermore in the volatile employee structure that is caused by the fact that our operative work relies on university students, causing frequent fluctuations which may compromise the establishment of a stable internal gender-balanced workforce structure.

2. GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

CHASE is adopting a gender mainstreaming approach based on propositions of the European Institute for Gender Equality (Gender mainstreaming | European Institute for Gender Equality (europa.eu)) along with our learnings from our previous experiences at CHASE and with other employers. The objectives aim at the company culture and practices within CHASE, but also refer to the future career paths of women once they decide to move on.

1. Gender equality in recruitment and career progression

  • Objective 1.1: Equal treatment of all application irrespective of gender and other underrepresented groups

  • Objective 1.2: Proactive identification of women shall be attempted in order to encourage their application                     

  • Objective 1.3: CHASE is an active part of the dissemination of inclusive role models via suitable channels

  • Objective 1.4: CHASE increases the networking opportunities for female researchers

2. Gender equality in leadership and decision making

  • Objective 2.1:  CHASE is an active part of gender-balanced development programs

  • Objective 2.2: CHASE takes on an active role in combating selection bias

3. Enabling organizational culture

  • Objective 3.1: Family friendly working conditions mitigate the disruption of careers due to parenthood

  • Objective 3.2: A dedicated gender advocate supports women in developing their careers and with other gender-related issues

4. Role models and visibility

  • Objective 4.1:  CHASE actively raises awareness about career choices

  • Objective 4.2: CHASE encourages female researchers within the institution to act as role model

3. MEASURES

For reaching said objectives we will implement a number of different measures (measures will be updated according to the development of our objectives and our organizational learnings):

1. Gender equality in recruitment and career progression

  • Objective 1.1: Equal treatment of all application irrespective of gender, ethnicity

    Measure 1: It has been known for some time that traditional job descriptions (that look for the ideal candidates) discourage women to apply – the reason being that, generally, women (other than men) only apply for jobs if they perfectly match the profile. It has been shown that if job profiles are written in a different manner, the rate of female applicants can significantly increase[4]. In this spirit, CHASE will pursue the development of realistic and purposeful job profiles.

    Measure 2: Studies have shown that the work of people is judged by others in a drastically different manner based on which gender the work is attributed to. To counteract this bias, applications for jobs can go through a blinded stage where gender is unknown to the reviewer as part of the standard operating procedure.

  • Objective 1.2: Proactive identification of women shall be attempted in order to encourage their application

    Measure 1: Through networking activities (formal and informal), an active scouting process can be initiated for every open position. For instance, joint networking activities with other initiatives at JKU Linz or TU Vienna can be used for the announcement of openings of Practica, BSc, Master, or PhD Positions.

  • Objective 1.3: CHASE is an active part of the dissemination of inclusive role models via suitable channels

    CHASE has already established contact and initiated a collaboration with the JKU Department for Gender & Diversity Management and HR Development, where we agreed on an alignment of CHASE activities with the Career Development Program ‘Karriere_Mentoring III’ (a joint undertaking by JKU, the Paris-Lodron University Salzburg, and the Donau Universität Krems).

    The Competence Center can be a valuable complement to the existing program, due to our embedding in a network of company partners and associated partners: CHASE forms a bridge between Universities and Industry.
    We envisage delivering added value through joint networking events with (female) role models from the industry, or by introducing students to the sector of industrial research. The topics will be elaborated together with the JKU; currently we are focusing on several typical obstacles that may inhibit women’s careers, e.g. crucial career decisions towards the end of their studies. We are envisaging, among other measures, the following initiatives:

    Measure 1: ‘Opening Doors’: Reportedly, the decision whether to stay in academia or take on a company career is often delayed by female students, which may cause severe obstacles to career advancement, including the problem of finding an adequate position at an advanced stage of an academic career, or a lower average salary (computed over the working life). We want to encourage young female students to take on this decision at an earlier stage (i.e. comparable to male students) through extending their network in the direction of the industries through said role models, and through the insight provided in the networking events. We want to achieve this through a series of networking events where students will have the opportunity to listen to/interact with female representatives of company partners and academic partners of CHASE.

    Measure 2: On another note, it is possible to support career decisions through technical introductory courses/lectures, for instance in the fields covered by CHASE or our academic partners, in fields that are not consistently taught in all study programs but are likely to take influence across a wide range of job profiles (digital transformation, advanced process analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence).

    Measure 3: ‘Here to stay’: A second major obstacle to continuous career planning is the lack of compatibility with family planning. It is admittedly difficult for young mothers and fathers as well as the employer to guarantee a smooth transition back to work after a break. While the testimony of role models may be a help to young families, we believe that this career aspect deserves more attention than it currently receives. As we will extend our network with gender research throughout the second funding period, we will pursue the initiation of a research project that seeks out cases of successful re-integration points out the communication channels that facilitate the process.

  • Objective 1.4: CHASE increases the networking opportunities for female researchers

    Measure 1: Travel grants for female students: As careers are crucially dependent on the development of proper networks, we want to increase the chances of CHASE researchers to meet.

2. Gender equality in leadership and decision making

  • Objective 2.1: CHASE is an active part of gender-balanced development programs

    Measure 1: Project Management seminars for PhD students, in order to prepare them for a career without or outside our institution. PM seminars are actually an integral part of CHASE company culture and open to women and men; however, we anticipate a particularly important impact on female students in the context of career decisions.

    Measure 2: Leadership seminars. CHASE has actively been pursuing leadership and teambuilding activities (under the supervision of a female trainer). These trainings aim at developing leadership skills and co-creative abilities in a gender-balanced team that recognizes different approaches and heightens the awareness for roles and encourages to assume different perspectives. With these seminars, CHASE aims at a balanced leadership structure within the center.

  • Objective 2.2: CHASE takes on an active role in combating selection bias

    Measure 1: Seminars and Networking events can actively address the scientific foundations of hidden (second generation) bias. We aim at embedding these topics in diverse formats (e.g. 2.1, 1.3).

3. Enabling organizational culture

  • Objective 3.1: Family friendly working conditions mitigate the disruption of careers due to parenthood

    Measure 1: Austrian legislation provides several opportunities for couples to take time off for childcare. CHASE has actively been encouraging fathers to take their allotted time off to take on their maximum share in childcare and acting as male role models for giving women the opportunity to get back to work. Notably, this will enable the development of more efficient coping strategies for the center, i.e. in its role as an employer.

     

  • Objective 3.2: A dedicated gender advocate supports women in developing their careers and with other gender-related issues.

    Measure 1: Implementation of a gender equality advocate.

4. Role models and visibility

  • Objective 4.1: CHASE actively raises awareness about career choices

    Measure 1: With our PM seminars and networking activities, as well as with personalized support as well as our vast network to academic and company partners, CHASE wants to broaden the career horizon of CHASE researchers.

    Measure 2: It has been stated that female careers are often hampered by their rejection of personality traits such as ambition[5] or an outright refusal to comply with the traditional (male-oriented) explicit uttering and pursuit of visions[6]. We believe that it is important for women to appropriate such traits and take ownership of their career choices. We want to empower a larger range of young women through the dissemination of networking events such as ‘Opening Doors’ (1.3).

  • Objective 4.2: CHASE encourages female researchers within the institution to act as role model

    Measure 1: In the context of events mentioned in the context of 1.3, we will gradually include CHASE researchers and management to actively participate in network events as role models for younger women.

    Measure 2: We will use the CHASE YouTube and other social media channels to convey our messages to our audiences.

4. NETWORKING

Our networking activities will include, among others, the following organizations. Platforms, databases, and initiatives:
 

5. MONITORING AND REPORTING

 

For ensuring and improving the quality of our approach, we will adhere to the following workflow:
 

     1. Development of key parameters that reflect work-life balance and gender parity. Among these, there will be:
 

(a) the current figures for gender balance, nationality, and age at CHASE (aggregated as well as on different levels) including correlations (e.g. between age and gender);
(b) number and duration of maternity and paternity leave taken;
(c) number of part-time parental leave for women and men;
(d) number of home office days per employee by gender;
(e) number of educational leaves/part-time leaves;
(f) descriptors of career progression;
(g) salary ratio;
(h) number of role models, participants in leadership seminars, etc.

 

Importantly, the numbers will refer to the current ‘market’ of graduate students in order to properly reflect the effect on gender mainstreaming. The key parameters will be part of the monitoring scheme of our gender equality program.

     2. (Internal) Annual gender report on said key parameters.

     3. Re-evaluation/adjustment of objectives and measures if necessary.

     4. Adaptation of the Gender Equality Plan if necessary.

The management hereby confirms the validity of the CHASE Gender Equality Plan. The plan will be re-evaluated on a yearly basis and communicated internally.

 

Linz, August 2023

Patrick Pammer, Managing Director

Christian Paulik, Scientific Director

                                               

  

[1] In the 1980s, the difficulty of women to access the highest level in a company’s hierarchy has been symbolized as a glass ceiling, issuing its effect right where the ultimate goal was in sight; recently, the impediments faced by women have been captured rather by the metaphor of a labyrinth, with subtle and often imperceptable obstacles that prevent women to a different degree on various levels. Eagly, Carli (2006): Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership. In: On women and leadership, HBR’s 10 Must Reads

[2] Ibarra, Ely, Kolb (2013): Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers. In: On women and leadership, HBR’s 10 Must Reads

[3] Fels (2004): Do Women lack Ambition? In: On women and leadership, HBR’s 10 Must Reads

[4] Ibarra, Ely, Kolb (2013): Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers, p46. In: On women and leadership, HBR’s 10 Must Reads

[5] Fels (2004): Do Women lack Ambition? In: On women and leadership, HBR’s 10 Must Reads

[6] Ibarra, Obodaru (2009): Women and the Vision Thing. In: On women and leadership, HBR’s 10 Must Reads

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