Gender Sensitive Communications (with Petra Meier)

euprio 2 corine van hellemont

Corine Van Hellemont

Corine Van Hellemont is an expert in Gender and Media and played an important role in the development of EGERA’s Antwerp charter on gender-sensitive communication in and by academic institutions. She is member of the research groups ‘Media, Policy & Culture’ and ‘Citizenship, Equality & Diversity’ at the University of Antwerp, and member of ‘The Centre for Research on Culture and Gender’ at Ghent University.

Session introduction

The session introduces the concept of gender-sensitive communications in universities

Session in depth

What is gender-sensitive communication and why is it important? This and other questions will be addressed in the session, using the example of a charter on gender-sensitive communication in and by academic institutions recently developed by EGERA, an international consortium financed by the EU.

In recent years, significant progress has been made regarding gender equality and diversity within European academia. Universities better reflect the composition of society, including the social position of men and women. However, research shows that women’s academic careers still remain characterized by strong vertical, and to a certain extent also horizontal, segregation. Women hold fewer full professorships and fewer academic or organizational leadership positions than men and they tend to be clustered within some scientific fields rather than in others. One important reason for this segregation is repeated exposure to pervasive cultural stereotypes that portray women as less competent for, and dedicated to, an academic and/or professional career. Such – often unconscious – gender-based assumptions may be reflected in language (oral, written or visual) and unintentionally cause offence, giving rise to a non-supportive environment. Communication in and by academic institutions thus plays an important role in the persistence or annihilation of such gender-based assumptions and stereotypes, constituting thresholds or advancements for women in academia.

The session will unravel how communications in and by universities can avoid such a gender-bias and explores how to develop gender-sensitive communications: the actors involved, the target groups to focus upon, the communication channels and tools to rely upon, and the strategies to develop.