Structural disadvantages and the waste of female talent have been diagnosed for all states in the European Community by several studies of the European Commission. Women are still faced with a so called glass ceiling which hinders them to get into high positions. This phenomenon is often also described as a "leaky pipeline" as with every step in the scientific career the proportion of women decreases dramatically. Even though women nowadays constitute half of the students or sometimes even more, they do not have a strong voice in decision making processes and curriculum development. This applies for countries with significantly different historical backgrounds or in cases with comparably high numbers of highly qualified women. Additionally, while the proportion of researchers of the total labour force has been increasing, the gender gap regarding work conditions and salaries is widening. Female scientists often work in much more precarious working conditions than men. The proportion of temporary employments in scientific organisations has a clear effect on the proportion of women working in these organisations: the more temporary jobs in the institutions, the higher the proportion of women.
Parallel to this annoying situation Gender Mainstreaming has become an important issue in the debate on reforms for the higher education sector during the last years of the former millennium. Thus the European Commission called upon the member states to implement gender equality measures and the Commission insisted on a gender action plan as an obligatory request for an application in the 6th Framework Programme on Research and Technological Development. One request was the development of Gender Mainstreaming instruments for the scientific field and another was the implementation of a gender watch system.
The trans-national EU-Project "Gender Budgeting as an instrument for managing scientific organisations to promote equal opportunities for women and men - with the example of universities" is embedded in this context. The question this project focused on is: how can Gender Budgeting be applied as a powerful instrument in the budgeting policy of an organisation? The intention is to show which dimensions and which phases of the budgeting process have to be considered. Furthermore, some basic steps for a systematic integration of gender issues into the budgeting process were developed.
We follow the definition of Gender Budgeting by the Council of Europe which is also used by the European Union:
Gender budgeting is an application of gender mainstreaming in the budgetary process. It means a gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality.
Three teams from Gdansk (Poland), Vienna (Austria) and Munich (Germany) worked together. We started with an analysis of the national framework for women and men in science and the financing of the university sector in Austria, Germany and Poland. This was followed by an analysis of the specific situation of women and men and of the process of budgeting at the three cooperating universities, the University of Gdansk, the University of Augsburg and the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. On the basis of these findings we developed instruments and measures for the implementation of gender budgeting in scientific organisations. As part of the support action we adapted a selection of instruments and measures to the specific situation of each cooperating university. By comparing the three countries and the cooperating universities we were able to extrapolate our findings and to contribute to a future European gender watch system.
Findings and results
For several years, reforms were discussed in all three participating countries whereby the respective status of the reform process varies. Aspects which triggered this development were the growing economisation in science which was followed by the introduction of New Public Management instruments and accompanied by changes in the organisational set-up of the universities. Important aspects of the universities' reforms like transparency, target-oriented governance and financial controlling are perceived as good starting points for gender equality as well. And the objectives of the new academic steering models, like e.g. providing transparency concerning the use of funds, the assignment of funds, and the objectives achieved are partially compatible to some objectives of Gender Budgeting. Consequently the implementation of Gender Budgeting at universities would mean to integrate gender equality objectives into governance and controlling and to link policy objectives of gender equality with the resource allocation. However, a high degree of resistances is to be expected as the reforms are nevertheless interwoven with a very traditional organisational culture in science.
This is emphasised by the fact that by restructuring the universities according to business management principles, a concentration of power within university managements could be observed in all universities. The increasingly hierarchic structure could potentially be an advantage for the improvement of gender equality (top down - if the top is strongly committed to gender equality policies). But, without institutionalised gender equality objectives, policies and institutions, this development also implies the danger of the issue being dropped much easier than before.
The comparison of the situation of female and male scientists in Austria, Germany and Poland and at the three cooperating universities shows that the well known phenomenon of the "leaky pipeline" applies for each organisation even though the historical backgrounds differ significantly. Another common feature is the distribution of women and men in the scientific fields which could be called a "typical" gender specific pattern. However, this pattern is less distinct in Poland compared to Austria and Germany. Other findings concern the distribution of grants and decision making powers, the social background and the gender wage gap as well as the data situation on these topics which is still insufficient.
The universities, as publicly funded institutions, are subject to the legal regulations at national and in the case of Germany also at federal state level. Our analyses of the financial systems of the universities in the three countries revealed markedly different procedures and regulations. Austrian universities have a global budget and with this a far reaching autonomy as to the allocation of the public funding within the university. The German system differs significantly due to the federal system, but also in Germany the universities get more and more autonomy in budget planning. In Poland these developments have not yet started and public funding of the higher education sector is still characterised by central planning. As a consequence Austria and Germany introduced new management and controlling instruments for the universities. Special funding by gender equality indicators play a minor role in Austria and Germany and does not exist at all in Poland.
The analysis of the budgeting process proved as very important in order to make the power and decision making structures in budgeting transparent. Generally we managed to show that decision making concerning budgeting is still male dominated in all three universities. Women are only marginally included (often as the ones who prepare the documents and data for decision making but who are not the ones who decide) or women are the minority within the group of decision makers. As to the impact of gender equality topics on the budgeting process it could be stated that there is none at all at the University of Gdansk, a marginal one at the WU and a minimal one at the University of Augsburg. But even though it showed that if gender equality topics expand into the budgeting planning process there are always quite hard conflicts about them, despite the quite small sums actually concerned.
In addition, we could observe that financial matters are being more and more labelled as purely technical procedures which only financial experts can understand. In this way, political dimensions are excluded from budgeting decisions. Furthermore, it became obvious that strongly regulated regimes like the one in Poland are less democratic and disadvantageous for efforts concerning the improvement of gender equality. Although Austria is far advanced in its reform process the effect tends to be the same: the universities' structures become more hierarchic and the budgeting process gets less transparent due to the lack of participation of the university groups and gender experts and due to a restrictive information policy. Informal networks gain more importance and this has a propensity to be disadvantageous for women. At the University of Augsburg the different groups are still involved just as the women's representative and the budgeting process is perceived as rather transparent.
The development of instruments and some indicators which can be used for the implementation of Gender Budgeting at universities and in the scientific field in general was a major part of the project. The instruments are described by means of a steering cycle which shows that budgeting can be perceived as a "control loop". Intervention is possible and necessary at all phases in order to make Gender Budgeting ubiquitous and sustainable. The steps of this budgeting cycle reflect the analysis of the initial situation, the deduction and formulation of gender sensitive objectives and indicators, the development of strategies like projects or programmes, a gender impact assessment, the gender-fair allocation of money and the implementation of the measures. Finally we have a monitoring and gender controlling which then again is the input for the analysis of the new status. Gender competence within the whole process is a precondition for the success.
As the EU project was designed as a specific support action (SSA), the knowledge transfer as well as proposals for measures to advance the implementation of Gender Budgeting at the cooperating universities was a main focus. The proposals we made to each of the universities had to be adapted to the specific situation at the universities which is why the starting points of the three research teams were quite different. Within our project, we could for example, demonstrate that a new financial instrument like the cost-performance-equation could be an instrument with possibly remarkable effects for gender equality if gender indicators were included in this instrument. However, it proved difficult to explain this to the financial administration as they regard financial matters as being "gender neutral" and an exclusive matter for finance experts. This holds the risk that the steering power of budgeting is lost. For the implementation of political goals like gender equality into financial systems, it proved advantageous to include both the management as well as the scientific staff.
Some other major restrictions for a successful implementation of Gender Budgeting are the general lack of gender awareness and a demand for sensitisation. Although we met a comparably great open-mindedness towards gender equality at the universities, this was not followed by an appropriate readiness to really act on behalf of this aim. Other obstacles were the insufficient transparency of the budgeting process and the fact that there is too little incentive or too little power to actively introduce Gender Mainstreaming and Gender Budgeting in the organisations. Even the officially nominated stakeholders or representatives of gender equality are oftentimes not sufficiently endowed with resources to bring things forward.
As a result of our analyses it became clear that an organisational learning is necessary as well as the inclusion of the state and the European level to build up enough pressure for a change of the organisational set-up of universities. Furthermore, the stakeholders of gender equality need to be sufficiently equipped, the process needs to be monitored and new management instruments need to be used in a gender sensitive way. This is supported by the fact that at least 60 % up to 80 % of the universities' budget is bound to personnel, resulting in the power over the personnel being the power over a major part of the budget. Personnel recruiting therefore is one important instrument to improve gender equality at universities and, as we might add, in science generally. The aspect of quality control within the universities needs to be simultaneously tied to gender equality and affirmative action programmes. Last but not least, a critical reflection of the relationship between women and men as well as a basic change in the male dominated organisational culture of most universities needs to be achieved.
A central outcome of the project was to show that budgeting is a crucial instrument for the promotion of gender equality and that Gender Budgeting instruments can help to restructure university budgets in order to foster gender equality.
Thus the project results in a list of recommendations for different levels. On the level of the universities this refers e.g. to the need for more sensitisation and awareness raising for gender equality in science, for the implementation of sufficient institutions for the promoting of gender equality, for the operationalisation and implementation of gender equality objectives on grounds of sex-disaggregated data, for an institutionalisation of a Gender Impact Assessment, for the equal participation of women and men and the inclusion of gender equality institutions at all stages of the budgeting process. An overall transparency of the budgeting process has to be ensured. Furthermore, it is crucial to integrate gender objectives and gender analyses into all parts of the accounting system. We also recommend the implementation of systems of financial incentives, e.g. the distribution of financial resources by indicators and the integration of gender issues in all agreements on objectives. The implementation of gender sensitive measures for a modified personnel recruiting is also necessary, and the aspect "gender" has to be included in any system of quality accreditation. Finally it is important to introduce a gender controlling system to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the whole process.
The recommendations to the governments at national and state level among others refer to a strong legal framework for gender equality, to gender equality policies at ministerial level, once more to the collection of sex-disaggregated data and the implementing of gender objectives into performance agreements. Further recommendations concern the distribution of funding by indicators and the introduction of Gender Budgeting for third party funding. Additional further affirmative actions for the advancement of women in science are necessary.
At the European level we recommend for example the implementation of Gender Budgeting into all research activities of the EU and more funding for projects on the implementing of Gender Mainstreaming and Gender Budgeting into science. We suggest to establish a European gender accreditation system and to develop a set of common gender equality objectives throughout Europe. Necessary therefore is an improvement of the European database on sex-disaggregated statistics. And finally we strongly recommend the integration of the subject of gender equality as a top level issue into the European agenda.
Eine Zusammenfassung des Projektes bis zum Stand Sommer/Herbst 2007 in deutscher Sprache findet sich in: Feministische Studien. Zeitschrift für interdisziplinäre Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung: Geschlechterverhältnisse in der Ökonomie. 25. Jg. Nr. 2. Nov. 2007 Ankündigung (als PDF 280 KB)
For further information please contact the coordinator:
Dr. Andrea Rothe
Tel: ++49 (0) 170 - 89 13 624