Center of Space, Technology and Gender

In recent years, activities at the Faculty of Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have included the establishment of the Center of Space, Technology and Gender,

The Center is an initiative of the women professors at the Faculty, and aims to examine and support the equal participation of Faculty members in educational and research activities, with a focus on issues related to the management of public space and the use of new technologies, which are issues that generally cover the range of scientific subjects involving the Faculty.

The existence of the Center is not exclusive to Greece. A simple search on the Internet proves that the most renowned educational institutes are now including similar Centers in their structure, and are also introducing subject areas to their study programs linked to gender-related issues in research and technology:

Furthermore, the European Union supports the equal participation of women scientists in society, education and the workplace through specific funding schemes. Since 1998, DG Research at the European Commission had created a special committee of experts for women and science, before the relevant Directorate was established. For many years, funding was provided to information and support networks for women scientists; today, the 7th Framework Program (2007-2013) includes a number of programmes that focus on gender participation in research and technology. Finally, in Greece, the General Secretariat for Research and Technology recently created a network of Greek women scientists to work on educational, research and employment issues (PERIKTIONI network). At Aristotle University, the “Interdepartmental Undergraduate Program on Gender and Equality Issues” EPEAEK ΙΙ/4.2.1Β was created in 2003, and is housed at the Faculty of Engineering, School of Architecture.

Is there still a need then, in the mature democracies of the 21st century, for such actions? The answer is ‘Yes’, since it is not yet clear whether the personal and professional life of our students lives up to their expectations, and whether gender is still a decisive factor in this development. And while the legal framework in European democracies successfully deals with the consolidation of equality issues, the long-standing formulation of social stereotypes still helps to maintain a “glass ceiling”, that  prevents the professional advancement of young women researchers, even in “model” societies such as those of Scandinavia.

The Center’s actions mainly focus on the following areas:

  • A comparative study of the educational and professional environment and the development of women engineers in Greece in relation to other countries and, the connection between the Faculty of Engineering and similar actions abroad. Specific actions are mentioned in the website, such as a study of the progress achieved at the Schools of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, which proves that we have some of the highest percentages of female students and researchers attending the said courses internationally.
  • The implementation of actions for professional inclusion (mentoring). Specific actions are applied, focusing on a sound entrepreneurial environment (in cooperation with the AUTH Liaison Office- which the country urgently requires.
  • A study of the perceptions of our women researchers on the possibilities of attaining a balance between their personal and professional lives and on the creation of a motivating atmosphere for the pursuit and implementation of their personal choices and aspirations. The Center already cooperates with various bodies and organisations that are active in these fields.

The Center is open to all members of the Faculty of Engineering and will function for as long as the Faculty members continue to respond to and enrich its activities.