Swiss universities launch gender equality action plan

Range of initiatives designed to help women unveiled

December 20, 2017
Source: iStock

Switzerland’s leading universities have published plans to improve gender balance and promote equal opportunities.

ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich was ranked joint 10th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018, above any other institution in continental Europe. It forms part of a wider group known as the ETH Domain, which also includes the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and four research institutes.

The domain board has set out a new Strategy for Gender Balance and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, covering the period 2017-20, which focuses on five key areas: equal opportunities within individual institutions; greater awareness of gender stereotypes; support for women’s career development; policies for ensuring better work-life balance; and a number of gender-specific aspects of teaching and research.

To achieve its goals, the strategy envisages that at least 0.4 per cent of the total federal contribution to the ETH Domain – roughly SFr10 million (£7.6 million) – will be devoted to them. Measures planned include: workshops on respect and sexual harassment; mentoring, coaching and training for women at all levels; and better childcare facilities for conferences, school holidays and emergencies.

The goal of increasing the proportion of women professors meant that it was crucial both to recruit and retain sufficient numbers. It was taken as a promising sign that 18 out of 61 (close to 30 per cent) new professorial appointments at ETH Zurich and EPFL this year were women.

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Reader's comments (1)

Shall I take credit for this action plan? Certainly. However, I am very suspicious about how this money will be used. Will it be used to hire more uncompetent wives and girlfriends of male faculty in ETH domain? Will it be used to increase the female number of students and faculty so that male faculty have access to a larger pool of women to sexually harass or support in exchange of sexual favors turning these females practically into prostitutes with a profession? Unless severe penalties are introduced to all harassers/discriminators/racists at workplaces, federal money would be wasted. The same mistakes are repeated over an over again, it should not be only about numbers, but the quality of experience.