The ICM’s path to our first Gender Equality Plan

Who we are

As a centre of excellence in marine research, the Institut de Ciencies del Mar is fully aligned with the commitment of ensuring equal opportunities, and thus, to gender equality. Our commitment as a public-funded research institution is to achieve scientific excellence by promoting the values of respect, equality, diversity, transparency, and collaboration.

The beginning

Since 2017, the ICM counts with an Equality Task Force (ETF) with the voluntary participation of anyone from the ICM’s staff willing to make a difference on gender issues at the institution. This space has become a focus for reflection, debate, training, generation of alliances and action. Its work has been mainly aimed at giving visibility to the work and creativity of female researchers and technicians, providing opportunities for participation, identifying expressions of inequality, and proposing improvement measures, identifying and deploying good practices, and bringing science closer to the public, especially doing work with schools by offering female role models.
During these years, the ETF has grown thanks to the participation of its members in diverse regional, national and European initiatives (from local to European and even global contexts) that allow the group to move forward.
In 2018, the collaborative project under the H2020 framework programme LIBRA (Unifying innovative efforts of European research centres to achieve gender equality in academia) held a stakeholder workshop on the topic of “Sex and Gender dimension in research” and engaged diverse European delegates from research, industry, publisher and funding agencies in order to inspire to make changes in each organisation. That meeting provided diverse gender tools for the assistants and, in the case of researchers of ICM, was the embryo of the ICM’s GEP.
Later on, in 2020, ICM was funded by two projects under the European Commission's Horizon 2020 SwafS programme: LeTSGEPs, Leading Towards Sustainable Gender Equality Plans in research institutions and RESBIOS, RESponsible research and innovation grounding practices in BIOsciences, which allows a qualitative leap in the ICM objective.
In the last four years, members of the ETF have also actively participated in the SwafS project ACT, Promoting Communities of Practice to advance knowledge, collaborative learning and institutional change on gender equality in the European Research Area, and participate actively in LifeSciCoP which has been our form of debate in Life Sciences.
As a result of all the participation in these initiatives and the internal diagnosis, on 18 June 2021, the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM) presented its 1st Gender Equality Plan at the institutional level: ICM's GEP


The diagnosis has led to an awareness of situations of inequality and discrimination based on gender and revealed the possibility of making informed decisions to reverse this situation. The Plan prioritizes objectives and results and defines a set of measures to achieve them in various fields of action, including among others, career development, training in gender equality, organization of working time, co-responsibility and work-life balance, gender equality in the functional and organizational structures of the center, and the inclusion of gender in research and innovation. The Plan is the institutional roadmap for equality and has been endowed with the necessary resources for its effective implementation.

The future

The Plan will be implemented over the next two years and includes cross-cutting actions that need to be anchored in institutional policies and positive action measures aimed at correcting identified situations of inequality. It is also a dynamic document that can be adapted to meet new challenges and future contexts. To evaluate the impact of the Plan, a set of indicators is available to verify the achievement of results.
For the Equality Task Force and the institute itself, the journey so far has been a very enriching process and at the same time a constant challenge. We are convinced that the Plan will be a revulsive for the ICM. It will undoubtedly have positive effects not only among women, by reducing gaps and eliminating gender biases, but also among all staff, with the improvement of team motivation, the retention (and recruitment) of qualified professionals and a new impulse for corporate social responsibility.
The Plan also presents us with the new challenge of rethinking our marine research by incorporating the gender dimension and intersectionality. It will provide a stimulus that will help the ICM to achieve a more inclusive, diverse and transformative ocean science and to become a benchmark marine research centre for new generations.

By: Esther Garcés and Janire Salazar as members of the ICM Equality Task Force