The movement of university students that went down in history as “feminist May of 2018” marked a before and after when we talk about social movements. However, in previous years some sectors of students and academics of the University of Chile had already focused their attention on cases of gender violence, discrimination and inequality within the house of studies. This is assured by the current head of the Gender Directorate of the higher education institution Carmen Andrade.
“The university had already made the decision to study what happened to gender relations within it and from that knowledge it had made the political decision to intervene, not to continue accepting as normal that there were gaps, inequalities, discriminations and we had already begun working together with the students with the aim of making a policy of prevention of sexual harassment, of social responsibility in the care of students and workers,” says the academic.
In this sense, the mobilization power of feminism in 2018 managed to run structures that were very settled in Chilean culture, “feminists know that it is one of the things that costs us the most, to move structures,” she adds and in that sense indicates that one of the most significant advances was the implementation of a gender seal that managed to mainstream the look of equity in the institution. About this seal and the time that has elapsed since the student mobilization, we spoke in an interview with El Mostrador Braga.
The first gender directorate of the University of Chile
With offices in various Faculties, the Directorate of Gender Equality has managed to consolidate itself in the last four years. The agility around the operation and deadlines has been the most significant change in this time, “that made us make quick decisions to substantially improve what was being done. An agreement was signed between the rectory and the student representatives, which committed the university to strengthen actions aimed mainly at the eradication of gender violence and sexism in education with its respective protocol of action, “says Carmen Andrade.
Other relevant issues that were considered in the initiative were co-responsibility in the care and recognition of the social name of trans people, a comprehensive look that went hand in hand with the creation of offices and observatories that act as a reception for students who have been involved in situations that end up violating their rights and especially their mental health. “The Office of Prevention and Attention of Sexual Harassment and Gender Violence, the Gender Observatory and the Student Medical Service specialized in mental health, are examples of the interventions that the university has offered in this period,” they indicate from the direction.
Transversal training in a gender perspective with a rights-based approach
This story has been accompanied by an educational vision, “along with the above, various educational initiatives have been developed such as diplomas, seminars, general training courses, and dissemination campaigns to contribute to the eradication of sexual harassment, gender violence and discrimination in the university, informing, educating and raising awareness among the university community about these situations”, point out from the gender office.
And with the commitment to advance in equity they gave rise to the first certification of gender equality standards, the seal “Generate Equality” (2022). This label has the particularity of being a pioneer in Latin America. In this sense, Carmen Andrade explains that, “several countries have promoted, together with the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) the gender equality seals, which are integral processes where institutions commit to make a diagnosis about what is happening inside them and on the basis of this diagnosis a series of commitments and equality goals are established that are subsequently audited by an agency. external.”
And while there were some experiences around these kinds of engagements in Latin America, they didn’t exist in the higher education experience. “Therefore, we set out to design a system of recognition of equality standards that would effectively allow us to make a qualitative leap that compromises all areas of the university.In all areas, we set deadlines and why it seemed important to us because we had an easier time generating proposals, documents, Papers and where sometimes we have shortcomings is in the implementation and control of those commitments.”
The Comprehensive Gender Equality Policy addresses regulatory changes to allow the hiring of underrepresented same-sex people in those masculinized or feminized units, in order to balance the presence of men and women in the evaluation commissions of academic performance and control the gender barriers faced by academics in the development of their career. In addition to considering the incorporation of criteria and guidelines for gender equality and non-discrimination in training processes and the strengthening of policies for the prevention of sexual harassment with a model of attention to violence that includes: awareness plans, staff training, socio-legal advice and psychological care.
We are going to propose new goals
Transform masculinized structures, enhance the development of women’s academic careers, prevent and confront discrimination and sexual and gender violence, promote measures of social co-responsibility; In addition to promoting academic content with a gender perspective and influencing the design of university public policies related to gender issues, are some of the purposes that continue this initiative. On the other hand, the certification model will be made available to all the universities of cruch and CUECH, and it is expected that it will be assumed by the entire university system.
“I believe that the University of Chile has played an important role in the development of the country, since it assumes its character as a state university at the service of the country and I believe that in terms of gender it is no exception. I think we are making a tremendous contribution and we understand it as a responsibility and if that influences the rest of the universities. We believe that we are not doing anything extraordinary but what we have to do as a public university,” says the academic.
Women and academia
To close this conversation, Carmen Andrade referred to the development of women researchers and the competition for productivity, a gender issue that moved the foundations of academia in the midst of the pandemic. “This seems to me a very important issue, since one of the problems that came to light in the middle of the pandemic was the decrease in the academic production of women v / s men that focused on the problems of care and family co-responsibility,” he says.
“We all know, but there was no awareness that family responsibilities of care also fall mainly on women,” she says, adding that “the development of women and men in universities is totally unequal, the path of women is much more stony, the time of career development is much longer, the difficulties are greater and what happens in the universities is that this difference is not recognized; the criterion of meritocracy is assumed and therefore one ascends according to their personal merits and those merits are built on the prestige that knowledge gives you”.
In this sense and despite all the advances, “there are still many masculinized structures to be transformed in the University,” says the academic to end this interview and underlines the purpose of the gender and equality directorate to guarantee equal opportunities and participation of men and women, and ensure that gender perspectives are present and affect all academic institutions.
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