Model Guidelines on Equality, Non-Discrimination, and Diversity within Research

As a result of the #MeToo movement, women within academia have been reflecting on the need to set clear standards to change workplace culture and set the foundation for best practices.  There is currently an initiative at the University of Oslo Faculty of Law to promote new guidelines which articulate postive actions, identify negative practices, and set forth relevant substantive and procedural standards.  It is published here with the aim of serving as a model to other faculties and universities.

Model Guidelines on Equality, Non-Discrimination, and Diversity within Research

The Faculty of Law is committed to providing a positive research environment which recognizes diversity as a strength and source of creativity. The Faculty of Law seeks to enable researchers of diverse backgrounds to be able to pursue their intellectual aspirations and enjoy a meaningful careers. The increased recruitment of women and persons of diverse backgrounds to research positions and research leadership positions is an aim of the Faculty of Law. For women and persons of diverse backgrounds to enjoy equality in research programs, this requires equal right to inclusive participation, respect, and access to possibilities for advancement and enjoyment of the workplace environment. Research programs/groups are obligated to prevent discrimination by taking concrete action to correct discriminatory attitudes and structures and promote a respectful workplace environment.

Positive Structural Actions The Faculty of Law will take specific measures to ensure that all researchers, irrespective gender, transgender identity or expression, national, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or age will have equal access to research opportunities and shall not be subjected to diminished prestige and lack of power.

Recruitment: Research programs will make best efforts to recruit women and persons of diverse backgrounds as researchers and research leaders- through processes that are inclusive, clear, accessible, and transparent. The Faculty of Law will endeavor to enable researchers to pursue research-related teaching.

Evaluation: The heightened visibility of women and persons of diverse backgrounds as researchers and research leaders risks increased pressure and overly critical examination of their performance, prompting overachievement or underachievement. Evaluations should be designed to identify such risks and respond with an adequate strategy.

Transparancy: The Faculty of Law commits to upholding the principle of transparency in recruitment, evaluation, advancement, and demotion/dismissal of women and persons of diverse background within research programs.

Reporting: Research programs will submit reports on what actions they have taken to promote equal participation and advancement of women and diverse researchers. Research groups are to identify and correct both formal and informal mechanisms of subordination and marginalization. Research Leaders are to set empowerment goals for female and diverse researchers at all levels. LIMU will conduct an evaluation in situations where there are women leaving research projects.

Prizes and Citations: The Faculty of Law will commit to nominating women for research prizes, maintain a bibliography of research by women, promoting a citation policy which reminds academic staff to cite women researchers, assist women researchers in attaining access to research conferences, etc.

Seminars/Workshops to promote Advancement and Retention of Women Researchers:  The Faculty of Law commits to increasing the appointment of women to Research Leadership positions and ensuring retention of women leaders. The Law Faculty will offer workshops to women researchers on relevant topics, such as improving the CV, writing research applications, publishing in international journals, Understanding Gender Dimensions of Leadership/Women Role Models. Women researchers at all levels will be given information on their rights and possibility for redress.

The Faculty of Law will also offer regular gender training to Research Leaders to promote awareness, such as Recognizing Unconscious Gender Bias, Devaluation, Exclusion, and Stereotyping when evaluating and interacting with women research staff, Strategies for Retention of Women Research Leaders, Supporting the Work-Life Balance, etc. Research leaders are to understand that commitment to gender equality is measurable in words and actions.

Research Forum: The Faculty of Law will establish a Research Forum where researchers can meet to discuss research ideas and experiences with each other and discuss gender equality practices.

Mentor Program: Women researchers and researchers of diverse backgrounds may benefit from access to mentors to discuss the challenges of pursuing research.[1] The Faculty of Law will expand the mentor program to encourage women researchers and researchers of diverse backgrounds (including research fellows, researchers, and research leaders) to seek and serve as mentors.

Access to research assistance: The Faculty of Law will provide research assistance to women researchers in order to facilitate meeting research deadlines.[2]

Mobility: Women researchers have lower rates of mobility. One aspect is the challenge presented by combination of parenthood responsibilities with a research career. The Faculty of Law shall aim to solicit funds to create a grant for parents seeking to pursue research stays abroad in order to support costs relating to childcare, education, or other costs related to the maintenance of children abroad.

Women researchers will not be forced to commute away from small children when part of a research project. Facilitation of part-time physical presence should be pursued in order to support the balance of family commitments and academic career.

Individual Discrimination, Harassment, Exclusion, Devaluation & Tokenism

The Faculty of Law is committed to countering discrimination, exclusionary practices, devaluation of research, humiliation, and harassment within research programs and recognizes a no-tolerance position on these practices. Research staff shall not be subject to discrimination on the grounds of sex, ethnicity, age, disability, or sexual orientation.

The Faculty of Law will provide a course on discrimination, harassment, exclusionary practices, marginalization, devaluation of research, and stereotyping (“overly-sensitive-difficult-insubordinate-oppositional”) to research staff and disseminate these guidelines. Passive-aggressive exclusion is unacceptable. Examples of such behavior include failure to include a researcher in meetings or events, ignoring or overlooking a researcher in meetings and events, subtle insults, forgetting to cite or list a researcher in reports, devaluation of research, and failure to provide constructive feedback- instead providing unclear feedback or no feedback.

The Faculty of Law will seek to provide a safe work environment for women researchers by taking measures to ensure that women will not be harassed by employees or students on social media.

Definitions of Discrimination and Harassment

EU Directive 2006/54/EC of 5 July 2006 on the Implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation

Article 2- Definitions

Direct Discrimination- where one person is treated less favorably on grounds of sex than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation

Indirect discrimination– Where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion, or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary

Harassment- Where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment

Sexual Harassment– Where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment

Tokenism- The achievement of gender balance among researchers and research leadership is valued by Research Funds, such as the European Research Council. It is important that women researchers not be treated as tokens within research programs, in which they are recruited because of their gender in order to prove the non-discriminatory quality of the program. They are permitted to form part of a research program but not allowed to enjoy full participation due to coercive, authoritarian treatment, denial of advancement opportunities, exclusionary practices, psychological stress, alienation, devaluation, or demotion.  These practices carry a risk of additionally promoting gender stereotypes (the workaholic, the mother, etc.)  This results in demotivation, frustration, negative self-image, isolation, marginalization, and reduced aspirations and performance.

Complaint Mechanism: Persons who experience discrimination, harassment, or exclusion are to contact the Head of Department, alternatively LIMU or LAMU, or the Speak Up procedure. All Department Heads are to inform researchers about the availability of these procedures.[3]

 Termination, Dismissal, or Demotion within Research Programs

The Faculty of Law will conduct a gender assessment of termination of contract, dismissal, and demotions involving women within research programs. All such proceedings must meet procedural requirements of written notice, identification of substantive grounds for termination, representation by union and administration, and fair opportunity to respond.

 Documenting a Demotion

The project director or manager must be able to produce specific documentation in order to support an involuntary demotion. Examples of specific documentation include a poor performance evaluation, disciplinary warning letters, or documentation of lack of work, reorganization, or change in sponsored program needs.

LIMU, the Faculty Administration, and the Union must assist and advise project directors and managers in documenting a case for demotion.

Notifying Researcher and Reviewing a Demotion

The LIMU, administration, and Union must review the supporting documentation for a demotion before a demotion is implemented.

If a researcher elects a voluntary demotion, the union or administration must be available to counsel the employee.

Providing Notification Memorandum to Researcher/Written Request by Researcher

If the demotion action is involuntary, the project director or manager must provide, after consultation with the office responsible for personnel matters, a written notification memorandum to the researcher who is being demoted. The written notification memorandum must explain the reason(s) for the demotion, the effective dates for the demotion, and whether the demotion is temporary or permanent.

For a voluntary demotion, the researcher must provide his or her project director or manager with a written request for the demotion.

Retaining the Notification Memorandum/Written Request

For involuntary demotions, a copy of the notification memorandum sent to the researcher must be retained in the personnel file. When a researcher requests a voluntary demotion, a copy of the written request must be retained in the personnel file.

 

 

[1] https://www.uio.no/english/for-employees/competence/gender-equality/mentoring-programme/

[2] https://www.uio.no/for-ansatte/enhetssider/jus/ledelses-og-utvalgsmoter/limu/

[3] http://www.uio.no/english/about/hse/speak-up/index.html

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