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Introduction

Maastricht University (UM) consists of approximately 22.000 students and 4.500 staff members from all over the world, who each bring their individual talents, competences, knowledge, perspectives and voices with them, as shaped by their own personal backgrounds. Together, they contribute to the diversity that characterizes the UM community and that strengthens the UM community as a learning and working environment. The UM Executive Board wholeheartedly subscribes to the importance of both equity and equality in academia, in order for such diversity to flourish. As part of the UM Strategic Program 2017-2021, titled “Community at the CORE”, the UM has committed to ensure an inclusive environment within its own research institution. This commitment is continued in the UM Strategic Program 2022-2026, where the UM further commits to being an inclusive, diverse, caring and sustainable university, where every member feels safe, recognized and valued.

The Horizon Europe GEP guidelines refer to the gender glossary and thesaurus for definitions provided by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). This glossary defines gender as “social attributes and opportunities associated with being female and male and to the relationships between women and men and boys and girls, as well as to the relations between women and those between men.” The UM focuses on both gender and sex in its gender equality efforts. When possible, the UM refers to and monitors self-identified gender including non-binary options. However, for the monitoring of population statistics the UM relies on sex registration in passports.

Furthermore, it is recognized that gender always intersects with other social categories of exclusion (e.g. age, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class). Therefore, the EU strongly encourages intersectional approaches in the GEPs. To support this approach to the mandatory GEP requirements set by the European Commission and to encourage a streamlined approach to the design of GEPs among Dutch universities, the Dutch Advisory Committee Diverse and Inclusive Higher Education and Research (abbreviated in Dutch: DIHOO) has drafted an additional GEP guideline. This guideline suggests four areas of proposed measures that can support sustainable change at universities, namely: measures for a sound infrastructure at the organizational level; measures aimed at increasing gender equality in terms of numbers; measures aimed at changing cultural and structural organizational processes that produce and sustain gender inequality; and measures focused on making knowledge production and dissemination of research and education inclusive.

This intersectional approach is more in line with the UM’s vision and efforts to reduce gender disparities and to create a diverse, and equitable work and study environment for all UM community members. This UM Gender Equality Plan is therefore to be regarded as part of the UM’s Diversity and Inclusivity Policy and Strategy 2020-2023, where gender equality efforts are embedded in existing broader and intersectional diversity and inclusivity policies at the university.

This webpage outlines how the UM meets the mandatory GEP requirements set by the European Commission, expands on the four proposed measures by the DIHOO, where applicable, and provides an insight on focus areas for the UM to consider in the coming years that are relevant to this topic.

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Glossary of terms

Concept Definition
Diversity

Embracing and taking into account the differences between individuals and groups of people.

Equality

Being equal in status, rights and/or opportunities.

Equity

Adjusting for need in order to achieve equality.

Gender

A social construct classifying a person as a woman, man, or other gender identity.

Inclusive Environment

An environment that does not leave any part or group excluded. One in which all members feel respected by, and connected to, one another. All members contribute to the formation of the group’s goals and to the realization of those goals.

Inclusivity

The practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

Sex

Assigned to people at birth based on physical and physiological features.

 

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Letter of commitment | UM Executive Board

We have the commitment and support from the Executive Board with regards to setting and reaching the outlined goals.

You can find their letter of commitment here.

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Dedicated Resources and Funding

The Dutch Advisory Committee Diverse and Inclusive Higher Education and Research emphasises the importance of having a sound infrastructure at the organizational level to support further measures for sustainable change. To this end, a GEP must have dedicated resources and expertise in gender equality to implement the plan. This section will illustrate how the UM meets this requirement through the establishment of D&I expertise and its collaboration with other UM departments and networks.

  1. Diversity at the CORE
  2. D&I Networks
  3. D&I Grants
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Data Collection, Monitoring and Evaluation

The second area of measures recommended by the DIHOO regards increasing gender equality through numbers (e.g. in recruitment, advancement, retention and visibility). A lack of gender diversity in terms of numbers may indicate a lack of inclusivity, especially if the numbers show a pyramid construction. To this end, organizations must collect sex/gender disaggregated data on personnel and students with annual reporting based on relevant indicators. This section will illustrate how the UM has progressed towards a more intersectional collection and analysis of data by including gender and nationality specific data and combining them with UM data that is already being monitored. Furthermore, this section addresses how the UM promotes a better gender balance for specific positions at the top through broader efforts.

  1. Intersectional Data Collection
  2. Preferential Gender Policies
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Fostering an Inclusive Environment: Organizational Culture, Procedures and Facilities

The third area of measures entails changing cultural and structural organizational processes that produce and sustain gender equality and support the effectiveness of gender policies. If an institution succeeds in attracting underrepresented or marginalized groups, it will need to facilitate an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees to avoid the ‘revolving door effect’. This requires the engagement of the whole organization, particularly decision-makers, in activities, communication, representation, awareness raising and unconscious bias trainings. As the collective work of the D&I Office together with collaborating UM departments and networks reaches broader audiences, more visibility is generated for problems encountered by underrepresented groups in existing physical or procedural structures at the UM. These collective efforts have contributed to adaptations and revisions in some of these existing structures. This section details the developments that have supported both cultural and structural organizational changes at the UM through broader D&I policies, initiatives and activities. Furthermore, it addresses what structures are currently in place at the UM to facilitate a safe and inclusive environment for UM staff and UM students.

  1. UM Facilities
  2. Inclusive Language and Recruitment
  3. Diverse Representation in Committees, Panels and Decision-Making Bodies
  4. UM Community Capacity Building and Training
  5. Inclusive Research and Education
  6. Recognition and Rewards
  7. Supporting a Healthy Work-Life Balance
  8. Social Safety & Security

UM Gender Equality Plan

  • Introduction

  • Glossary of terms

  • Letter of commitment | UM Executive Board

  • Dedicated Resources and Funding

  • Data Collection, Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Fostering an Inclusive Environment: Organizational Culture, Procedures and Facilities