Implementing Gender Equality Plans through an action-research approach: challenges and resistances

TítuloImplementing Gender Equality Plans through an action-research approach: challenges and resistances
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsJordão, C, Carvalho, T, Diogo, S
Conference Name19th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies
Date Published18-19 July 2020
PublisherACPI Ltd
Conference LocationOnline Conference
ISBN Number978-1-912764-59-4
Palavras-chaveAction-research approach, Gender Equality Plans (GEP), Portugal, Resistance

Achieving gender equality (GE) in science and research has become an important issue in the European Union (EU) and one of the objectives of the European Research Area (ERA). Progress in this area is sluggish and difficult, with several indicators showing that women tend to remain in a disadvantage position when compared to men, despite several efforts and initiatives to correct the situation. It is widely acknowledged that gender inequality may be leading to huge losses of talent, detrimental to organisations, to the economy and to the society (European Commission 2020). To overcome this situation, the European Commission (EC) has funded several action-research projects (through FP6, FP7 and H2020) in order to accelerate and/or stimulate effective and structural institutional changes through the implementation of tailor-made Gender Equality Plans (GEPs). Several GEPs have been implemented in Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) in many countries. Although the effective impact of these plans and their contribution to the creation of more egalitarian working environments in organisations has not yet been fully determined, it seems that resistance may be one of the main obstacles to their successful implementation. This study aims to analyse the organisational dynamics of resistance to the implementation of GEPs in Portuguese RPOs. Thus, drawing on the experience of key actors directly involved in the design, planning and implementation of the GEPs, the authors identify the main forms of resistance felt and discuss the reasons underlying this resistance, while analysing some potential strategies to overcome them and to ensure the success of both gender initiatives and national projects. To achieve the objective of the work, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the Principal Investigators (PI) of three projects developed in Portuguese RPOs. In an attempt to find ‘meaning-oriented regularities’ in the data, the interviews were analysed using the ‘interpretative qualitative’ approach. The authors conclude that resistance to GE initiatives is identified in all institutional contexts but it can assume different forms and configurations.

© CIPES 2019