How did all start?

A small summary about who the life science Community of Practice is and what the objectives are for our collaborative work.

ACT as the mother project .The ACT project is funded by the EC and promised to set up and support 7 Communities of Practice (CoPs) as agents to develop gender equality actions at universities, research centres and research funding organisations in the European Research Area. This was not as easy as it sounds, it took more than a year to develop the theoretical framework, map and reach out to the potentially interested community.

The first contact. The CRG as seed partner in ACT had the task of building and supporting one of the CoPs; the CRG is a biomedical research centre and was coordinating the LIBRA Project in which 10 European life science research centres developed and implemented a Gender Equality Plan. With this background we went to the 1st ACT synergy conference to explore how big the interest would be in the research community to create a Community of Practice with the same dimensions: limited to life science disciplines, but pan-European. And yes, the interest was confirmed by high and very interactive participation during a break out session discussing the potential objectives of such a CoP.

What we want to do. All the institutions that expressed an interest in becoming members of the life science CoP were invited to meet face to face in Barcelona and work out the mission, clear objectives, and start drafting the action plan of the CoP. With brainstorming and interactive group work we managed by the end of the day to conclude the following: The mission of the Life Science Community of Practice is to tackle barriers to gender equality that are common at the member institutions; learn from different European and Institutional contexts; implement measures at member institutions; and disseminate learning outcomes, results, and best practices to the wider research community.

The LifeSciCoP will specifically promote and apply effective methods to

• increase awareness for unconscious bias

• overcome resistance to Gender Equality

• include gender aspects in evaluation processes

What we expect from our institutions. Those institutions that could commit to the above mission and objectives signed the Memorandum of Understanding, which means that the people working in the CoP will be fully supported by their institutions. This means that if they want to run a staff survey, run a poster campaign or carry out similar actions, there will be institutional support for them to do so.

What we expect from each other. Every member at the CoP has a different level of expertise and experience working in the field of Gender Equality, we come from different countries and institutional contexts and we have different professional roles in our institutes. By sharing and listening we will learn a lot from each other, and most importantly, having the CoP members as peers, helps us not to feel alone in a sometimes difficult mission.

"… it made us realise that one of the most important things we’ll get out of our membership of the group is its tremendous energy. Even the most dedicated campaigners or equality champions feel depressed at times, having contact with the group really uplifting, we feel part of something bigger and we feel supported."
Quote of one member of the CoP