Anastasia Zabanioutou, coordinator of and Gender Equality Working Group (GEWG) of RMEI, created with the support of TARGET authors this article about the RMEI approach for advancing gender equality in Mediterranean Engineering Schools.
TARGET, Gender equality is a critical goal because its implementation can foster positive cascading effects on the achievement of all SDGs, and it is directly connected to the nexus of education-sustainability. This study discusses how the Mediterranean Engineering Schools Network achieved a learning potential, inspired informal and structural changes for gender equality to its members, through a tailored strategy by: a) unraveling the link between gender equality and sustainability, b) harvesting synergies of SDG5 from other SDGs and integrating gender equality in interventions for sustainable development of the region, c) mobilizing network’s human resources from professors and students to academic leaders, d) with the support of an EU project. A community of practice was created, the gender equality policy statement unanimously approved, grace due to the commitment of member-institutions leaders to SDGs.
Finally, the study reflects on the network’s co-creation processes and interventions, challenges, barriers, and lessons learned, and suggests networking, collaborative learning, ethical commitment to SDGs and the synergetic effects arising from appropriately designed tailored policy mixes, as drivers for advancing gender equality in typical male-dominated engineering institutions, where females in leadership and senior positions are in low percentages. Cognitive, affective trust and joy shared among the members of the working group, and the feeling of belonging to the same family were the emotional drivers of paving the way for gender equality.
The insights of the study may be useful to leaders, academic and administrative staff of other institutions in advancing gender equality and improving sustainability in their institution.