For a greater culture of equality between women and men

Guaranteeing equal access for men and women to all jobs, preventing wage differentials, promoting work-life balance and combating sexual and gender-based violence. These are the objectives of the UM' s two-year plan for equality between women and men, approved by the Board of Directors on December 14.

The University of Montpellier did not wait for the law on the transformation of the civil service of August 6, 2019, making such a plan mandatory, to act in favor of greater equality between women and men. For all that, " this new legislative framework is an opportunity to formalize our actions by structuring them in a plan that we wanted to be biennial," declares Agnès Fichard-Carroll, vice-president in charge of social responsibility.

To arrive at this action plan, the vice-president, who worked with the campus life (DVC), human resources (DRH) and management (DPIL) departments, wanted as wide a consultation as possible. In response to the health crisis, a round table open to all UM staff was held on November 2, but by videoconference. " The plan was then presented to the CHSCT on November December, then the opinion of the Technical Committee was sought, before being voted on by the Board of Directors on December 14," adds Agnès Fichard Carroll.

A continuous improvement approach

What can we say today about gender equality at the UM? First of all, 50.07% of the 4,833 staff are women, compared with 49.93% men. Equality seems to be the order of the day. However, the proportion of women falls to 39% among teaching and research staff, and among non-managerial staff, women represent more than 60% of the workforce, but they are under-represented in category A and over-represented in category C. This observation is not specific to the UM, but is very much the same in universities with similar perimeters.

To keep track of these figures, a parity report will be produced and distributed in the form of a brochure each year, so that everyone can see how the situation is evolving. A survey on " unequal treatment, study and working conditions in the ESR " will also be carried out as part of a research project. At the same time, steps will be taken to obtain the Alliance label certifying professional equality, and a steering committee will be set up " with the aim of meeting at least twice a year to monitor the equality plan ", explains Agnès Fichard-Carroll. The idea is to be resolutely committed to a continuous improvement approach.

Assessing and preventing pay discrepancies

Even if civil service salaries for the same body, grade and step are fair, part-time work and the under-representation of women in the highest grades and steps contribute to a lower overall level of pay for women. There are few levers for effective and rapid action, as regulations make it impossible to give priority to recruiting or promoting women. However, a number of the plan's actions will be decisive in improving this situation, such as eliminating the prorating of bonus increases for women on maternity leave, so that they are not penalized.

The aim is also to raise the awareness of bodies and juries by providing them with gendered information. For example, if 70% of women have applied for promotion, compared with 30% of men, and women represent only 20% of those promoted, we need to be aware of this," argues the vice-president. This doesn't necessarily have to influence our choices, which can be based on well-defined criteria, but we have to be aware of what we're doing. Cognitive biases are numerous and, in all our decisions, we have to ask ourselves the question of equality".

Ensuring equal access to civil service bodies, grades and jobs

At the university, as in the rest of society, gender diversity is far from a given. For example, a majority of BIATS staff are women in management, leadership, communication or life sciences, while they are very much in the minority in IT, logistics or engineering sciences. Among research professors, women are rare in disciplines such as mathematics and civil engineering. To curb this phenomenon, "it' s important to act upstream by raising awareness of gender stereotypes from an early age. Theuniversity also plays a part in raising awareness by highlighting women who act as role models for the general public. The Digifilles project led by two vice-presidents, Anne Laurent and Isabelle Parrot, which aims to offer schoolgirls internships in digital-related research labs, is another example of raising awareness, as are the operations aimed at students during the 'Donner des Elles à l'UM'month," declares Agnès Fichard-Caroll.

One of the cornerstones of this plan is to help women succeed in competitions and professional examinations, and to guarantee their equal access to promotion. To achieve this, awareness-raising initiatives need to be carried out with competitive examination juries and during the various recruitment processes. To this end, a leaflet entitled " Recruiting without discrimination " has just been produced at the UM and is widely distributed to juries. We also aim to offer training on the issue of fairness to supervisory staff, for example, as well as to the wider community.

Another flagship initiative at the UM is the "Springboard® ou Tremplin pour les Femmes® " program. Initially designed for female professors and researchers, the program, now known as "OSER", has been extended to women in managerial positions. It's a training program designed to help women feel more legitimate, to approach their careers with greater self-confidence, and to better define their choices," explains the vice-president. The UM is a pioneer in this field, and the program has even been cited in the Ministry's reference guide". The idea now is to train trainers to spread the program throughout the university.

Professional and personal life

Telecommuting, assistance with family vacations, support for cultural and sporting activities, childcare solutions... the UM has long been involved in a policy of reconciling professional and personal life. This policy is not exclusively reserved for women, but it does benefit them. The number of crèche cribs reserved will be further extended to reach twenty by 2021 - the size of a small structure - and the situation of pregnant women and people on parental leave will be made more secure, notably by involving human resources correspondents at their side.

The fight against sexual and gender-based violence must also be pursued by stepping up communication aimed at victims: reporting, support, existing protective measures within the University...". A support tool will be created for victims. Victims are often too stressed during interviews to fully grasp all the information we provide," stresses Agnès Fichard-Carroll. For all the measures in this plan to have a real impact, it is vital that all UM staff are aware of them. The culture of equality depends on clear and effective communication, but above all on the willingness and participation of everyone.