In November 2018, the Councils of the Marine Research Institute and the Faculty of Marine Technology and Natural Sciences of Klaipėda University approved the “Gender Equality Action Plan for the period 2018-2023”.
The draft document was prepared by the staff of the” Horizon 2020” Program for Gender Equality at Baltic Sea Marine Research Organizations (acronym: Baltic Gender), which is carried out by Klaipėda University. In order to analyze the current situation of gender equality at the Institute of Marine Research and the Faculty of Marine Technology and Natural Sciences, i.e. at the departments, which are involved in the activities often regarded as having a certain “masculine hue”, the analysis of the structure of the academic staff was performed. Having used the “good practices” of project partners’ and recommendations of Lithuanian and foreign experts, problem areas were identified and an action plan was prepared.
The analysis of the academic staff structure revealed that at the end of 2017, there were 44% men and 56% women employed at Klaipėda University. At the Faculty of Marine Technology and Science, this ratio was 53% for men and 47% for women, and 68% for men and 32% for women at the Marine Research Institute. The analyzed data distinguished the Marine Research Institute as a structural unit that needs to look into the issue of gender equality by examining factors that amount to such a marked difference.
After analyzing the situation of women involved in the decision-making process, it was noted that today both the Faculty of Marine Technology and Natural Sciences and the Marine Research Institute are led by women. The Council of FMTNS consists of 7 men and 10 women and at the end of the 2017 in the MRI Council out of 11 Council members 5 were women. This shows that women are actively involved in the formation and implementation of unit activities, and such participation of women can be a good example for young women considering the possibility of pursuing a career in the academic units of marine science and technologies. However, as far as academic careers are concerned, the situation is not so auspicious. The ratio between men and women in typical KU marine science and technology academic careers: postgraduate, researcher, doctoral student, assistant / junior researcher, lecturer / researcher, associate professor / senior researcher, professor / senior researcher, is changing to the disadvantage of women and the critical stage (the turning point when there are more men than women) is in the post-doctoral period. Although there is a similar trend in STEM in other European Union countries, the number of women of higher academic position at Klaipėda University is decreasing more than the average of the European Union.
The analysis of the situation and causes of the ratio of women and men in the said units indicated that the action plan measures have to be focused on early-stage researchers, whose pace of professional development is influenced not only by the prevailing “male standards” but also by family commitments. In order not just improve the visibility and inclusion of women in research groups, but also increase the effectiveness of research teams, the Gender Equality Action Plan for 2018-2023 also includes measures for gender aspect integration in research content, studies and communication.
Baltic Gender project is funded by the European Union research and innovation program “Horizon 2020”, grant No 710363.