Diversity and gender equality are two core values of the ENHANCE Alliance. By publishing its Diversity and Gender Equality 2023 Annual Report, its third, the Alliance puts the light on the activities dedicated to this topic and the achievements reached thanks to them in the past years, but also the challenges the member universities are still facing and the areas where more work is still needed. The full document is available here.
A report to emphasise the importance of diversity and gender equality
As Prof. Geraldine Rauch, President of TU Berlin and Chair of the ENHANCE Board of Directors, explains, the report “underscores the profound significance of our shared commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equality within ENHANCE to fulfilling our mission”. The ten-page document is a way for the ENHANCE Alliance to show concrete results on important societal topics, not just engagement and statements. Divided into three parts representing the different goals, the report covers all the aspects pushed forward by the member universities with the belief that a group of top universities such as the ENHANCE partners represent an opportunity to establish great standard regarding diversity and inclusion.
“Together, we can create and shape an inclusive European University.”
(Melih Özkardes, Ombudsman and Work Package lean on Diversity and Gender Equality)
The first goal, “Ensure, Mainstream, and Monitor” puts the stress on the importance of having a clear orientation to reach the objectives but also to implement tools to monitor the development and impact of the activities. The second goal, “Empower Underrepresented Groups”, focused on three different ways to put diversity centre stage with the ENHANCE Challenge on inclusion, the ENHANCE Network of Diversity and Gender Equality, and the Inter-Alliance Exchange (Diversity & Inclusion Hub). Melih Özkardes, Ombudsman and Work Package Lead on Diversity and Gender Equality, also highlights the importance of having a “specific emphasis on gender and diversity perspectives in science and academia”, as the ENHANCE Alliance is first and foremost an Alliance of Universities of Technology dedicated to the students. The third goal has a self-explanatory title, “Training Resources & Fostering Awareness”.
The results of the pilot survey show the Alliance’s strength and where it can improve
A survey has been conducted within the Alliance to know how members from different statutory groups perceive the diversity and inclusion level of the activities proposed and the Alliance in general. The results are globally positive with really relevant numbers like the fact that 78% of respondents believe they are part of a diverse and inclusive community at ENHANCE, or 81% of respondents believing they are given the same opportunities as their fellow participants regardless of their background.
“By empowering our community regardless of background, we prepare it for a world defined by interconnectedness and diversity”
(Prof. Geraldine Rauch, President of TU Berlin and Chair of the ENHANCE Board of Directors)
However, besides these positive results, Melih Özkardes also mentions that “the survey showed where we need improvement”. For instance, only 39% of the respondents are slightly or moderately familiar with the concept of diversity and inclusion. This figure shows how important it is for the Alliance to increase awareness and education on these topics, especially because only 51% of respondents believe that ENHANCE has increased their awareness of opportunities available for students and staff with special needs to study or work abroad. Even if 68% of respondents believe that inclusion plays an important role in the organisation of ENHANCE activities and events, the work the Alliance started at its creation is still an “ongoing journey that demands continuous dedication and active engagement”, as Prof. Rauch emphases. More results of the survey can be found in the full report.
The Alliance keeps working to build an inclusive European university
In its structure itself, the Alliance made progress on the question of gender equality with the governmental bodies (Board of Directors, Steering Committee, Advisory Assembly, and Student Forum) consisting of 46% female population in total. The parity is also often reached or very close for many ENHANCE activities, but if the improvements are visible, they still need dedication and hard work. As Prof. Rauch explains, it’s a “continued effort to recognise and address the persistent challenges related to diversity and gender equality”. With conviction embedded in the Alliance’s mission and rooted in European values, ENHANCE is still developing offers to increase awareness on diversity and inclusion and to make sure everyone has the same opportunities.
The Annual Report of Diversity and Gender Equality is a tool to show the improvement and field to work on, but it is also a way for ENHANCE to try and spark transformative shifts to create “a welcoming and encouraging environment for talents regardless of their background”, as Prof. Rauch formulates it. The activities focusing on these important societal topics will continue in order to achieve even higher goals of inclusion, diversity, and gender equality within the Alliance.