Developing gender awareness initiatives, briefings or guidelines for recruitment and appointment of Recruitment Committee/panel members

Problem (evidence)

From the Gender Audit, in particular from its qualitative data gathering, emerged the need to increase the awareness of evaluators and commission members. Moreover, several studies explained the effects of unconscious biases within evaluation and selection procedures showing that these effects specifically hinder female researchers. As stated by the Research and Innovation Area of the European Commission: “The unconscious gender biases can lead to unfair assessment of women researchers and lower their likelihood of receiving a grant”. 

The unconscious associations test results prove that the concepts related to science and career are often referred to men, while the concepts related to art and family are often referred to women. Moreover, many research findings demonstrate that in academic evaluation procedures women are more penalized compared to men, even when they have the same curriculum. Women themselves can express unconscious biases and favour male candidates.


The aim of this action was to promote and produce high-quality research both valorising the individual merit and the inclusion of gender differences in working teams, two key-elements extensively acknowledged as pivotal to improve research effectiveness.


Interdisciplinary UNIBO team composed by experts of gender studies, statistics, social and political sciences, humanities, technical and administrative staff, together with high-skilled staff in video making of the dissemination PLOTINA partner ELH KOM.

Brief outcomes

Increase in the number of people understanding that the evaluation, selection and recruitment processes have to follow objectivity, fairness and transparency criteria in each Research Performing Organization (RPO). 

Key area

Recruitment, career progression and retention

Type of action

Availability of supports/resources


Action level of implementation

Department Coordinators and Knowledge Areas Coordinators


The PLOTINA Team decided to involve Progetto Donna in the provision of this measure, for its expertise in the field . Partners agreed on the necessity to organize two different courses in order to better meet the needs of the potential audience. The first course was organized in the following way: 3 lessons of 3 hours each, targeting PhDs, research fellows, early-stage researchers and professors and Technical and administrative staff, with a special focus on empowerment, self-esteem and self-confidence. The second course, was originally conceived as 3 hours’ seminar focused on visibility, negotiating and leadership skills targeting only Full and Associate Professors. 

Click for further information about the two courses on empowerment and leadership (in Italian).

The PLOTINA UNIBO Team asked to the Directors of Doctoral Programs in the STEMM and SSH fields (involving, in particular, the Engineering, Medicine, Law and Management Doctoral Schools) to promote the course among PhD Students. Thanks to the support of CESIA (UNIBO Informatics Unit) both courses were promoted among PhD students, research fellows and professors. Registration was compulsory to attend the courses. The first course was successfully delivered and had average of 13 persons attended the three meetings. The second course on leadership has been held on November the 8 always in 2018.

Since many potential candidates were left out because of their impossibility to register (for both time and organizational constraints), the PLOTINA Team agreed with PD to repeat the two courses between January and February 2019 which were successfully delivered.


No resistance towards this action, but it was a challenge to schedule and provide a second edition of the course because it was unplanned.

Coping strategies

Interest towards the initiative required a repetition of the courses in order to allow more attendees to participate. In fact, many participants in the first course, though, explicitly requested to be admitted to the second one as well, so the PLOTINA Team decided to include them by virtue of their interest and motivation, thus re-scheduling and re-providing both courses.

Tips/strategies – Lessons learnt

Provide a clear text and image suggestions to the video maker.

More detailed Outcomes/Impact

Increased awareness of participants’ abilities and strengths. Improved communication and interpersonal skills and competences to overcome stereotypes and succeed in very competitive work environments.


Evaluation questionnaires were delivered to participants at the end of the first course; 14 respondents participated in the survey.

Most of the attendees described the course as stimulating, useful and interesting. 

According to 9 out of 14 respondents, the course met their expectations while for 5 of them expectations were met only in part; most the latter group, though, reported that they would have appreciated more than three meetings, demonstrating an overall interest towards these sorts of initiatives.

12 out 14 respondents agreed that the skills achieved can be applied to their work life, while 2 only partially agreed with this statement; 9 agreed that their awareness on the requested attitudes for career advancement increased after the course, while 4 partially agreed and only one disagreed. The overall evaluation of the course ranged from sufficient (3 respondents), to good (5 respondents) and excellent (6 respondents).

The same survey was submitted to participants at the second course on leadership (8 November). 12 participants evaluated as stimulating and useful the contents of the course, 11 evaluated them as interesting. According to 12 out of 15 respondents, the course met their expectations; 13 out of 15 respondents agreed that the skills achieved can be applied to their work life; 11 agreed that their awareness on the requested attitudes for career advancement increased after the course, while 3 partially agreed and only one disagreed. The overall evaluation of the course ranged from good (10 respondents) and excellent (5 respondents). 

The course on Empowerment organized in 2019 has been evaluated too by 11 participants. All the participants defined the contents as stimulating, 10 defined them useful, 9 interesting. 8 participants evaluated the whole course as excellent. 4 participants suggested to organize more meetings on the topics. The course on Leadership held on the 13th of February has been evaluated by a questionnaire delivered to the 9 participants. 8 participants defined the contents as stimulating and useful, 2 participants as interesting and advanced. All answered that the course met their expectations and evaluated the whole course as excellent. 

Most of the respondents suggested increasing the number of the meetings, confirming their interest towards the course and the issues that were addressed.

Reflection/what we would do differently

The course was successful, more contents related to work-life integration in the academic environment could enhance even more the quality of the training experience, making participants aware of the services and structures available in UNIBO.

Unintended consequences

The number of subscribers was very high and the UNIBO PLOTINA Team had to organize a second edition of the courses in order to allow more people to participate.