Could you please introduce yourself?

In my over 20 years of practical experience as a psychologist, I have always had the privilege of working with and for people, in various contexts, organisations, teams, companies, systems and projects. For seven years already I have had the joy of being an employee of one of the largest Universities in Romania, within the Career Counseling and Guidance Center of the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University in Iași, where I work, of course, with people, especially students.

Apart from the usual norm of 8 hours a day as a career guidance counselor, since the first year of employment I have had the opportunity to work in projects with external funding as a counselor, trainer or expert, and since last year I have been appointed by the university management in the role of Coordinator of the Gender Equality Commission at the University.

Could you describe your organization in a few words?

“Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University from Iaşi is among the oldest and best-known institutions in Romania. Being an advanced research and education university, its mission is to carry out specific activities of creation, innovative valorization of knowledge and its transfer to society in the fundamental fields – Engineering Sciences, Architecture and Urbanism -, as well as in interdisciplinary and complementary fields, in the local community, at the regional, national and international level. The “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iasi assumes, in accordance with the mission and objectives adopted in the University Charter, the role of an educational, scientific and cultural research forum.

Could you please give some facts and figures or a description of the status-quo related to the gender equality situation in your organization? What are the challenges encountered and what levers do you see to address them?

The strategy for gender equality for the period 2022-2025 (GE Strategy) was developed by the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Lași (TUIASI) based on contributions from the entire university community and targets all categories of employees and students of the University.

The Strategy for Gender Equality was developed in accordance with the provisions of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers 2015-2019, the European Strategy for Gender Equality 2020-2025 and the guidelines provided by the new Union Framework Program for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, on gender equality plans. The strategy for gender equality for the period 2022-2025 expresses the commitment of the management of the Technical University “Gheorghe Asachi” from Lași to respect the principles of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination in all its fields of activity and to guarantee a safe and fair environment for all members of the university community.

Based on the GE Strategy, TUIASI developed the Plan for Gender Equality 2022-2025 (PEG), through which it assumes concrete objectives and measures regarding the better integration of the gender dimension in its entire activity, as well as indicators to measure the progress of implementation and of its review.

The plan for gender equality for the period 2022-2025 must be seen in correlation with the Strategic Plan of the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iași for the period 2021-2024, as well as with the Internal Regulation, the University Charter, the Code of Ethics and university professional deontology and The collective labor contract at the level of the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University from Iași, being the reference document for all those involved in the implementation of the strategic objectives for ensuring gender equality in the University. So far there have been no particular challenges/difficulties in its implementation.

Do you face recruitment difficulties? Would you say that gender equality offers a solution to overcome these difficulties and why?

It’s not applicable. Access to any post/function is free to any gender, without any restriction/barrier/limiting criterion.

Do you think that your organization is aware of gender equality rules? If so, does everybody know how to comply with these rules? What could be helpful (trainings, webinars, reference person in the company, etc)?

Consolidating the University’s mission and values, the GE Strategy and GE Plan were brought to the attention of all members of the academic community (students, teaching staff, auxiliary/associate staff), with the aim of guaranteeing and promoting equality and diversity in accessing knowledge and acquiring skills for all TUIASI employees and students.

The strategic objectives are translated into specific actions aimed at protecting the fair and inclusive organizational culture and promoting gender equality at all levels, addressing in a proactive manner the raising of awareness on the issue of gender equality, the development of skills and competences in the field, ensuring the balance gender in decision-making structures and processes, including recruitment and selection processes, gender equality in teaching and research activities, as well as gender mainstreaming in teaching programs and the entire research process.

Would you say working on gender mainstreaming can bring solutions to other challenges you observe (retaining female HR in organisations by addressing issues such as equality in wages, work-life balance, fight against sexist acts, populating rural areas, etc)

Certainly, these being explicit objectives of the implementation of the Strategy and Plan for Gender Equality.

Could you please describe why gender equality is important for you personally and/or for your organization?

For the simple fact that each of us, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, socio-economic status, background, physical appearance, personal beliefs, etc., has equal rights in terms of access to education and work. And to quote from the European Convention of Human Rights, no person can be subjected to discrimination by public authorities for reasons related to, for example, skin color, sex, language, political or religious beliefs or origins”.

How would you describe the added value brought by a woman leading an organisation? What are your challenges/ opportunities being a woman manager?

Although within the University I do not have any leadership position that is included in the organizational chart, with my appointment as GEP Coordinator I was given the opportunity, but also the challenge, to assume this role as well. Personally, I don’t think that being a woman gives me any advantage or disadvantage. Perhaps only my profession gives me an extra asset, at least in terms of the role mentioned above, the dimension of diversity and inclusion being part of the very core of the profession of psychologist.

What would be your closing word? Your main message on advancing gender equality approaches in companies/clusters/public authorities/governments?

Strictly from my point of view, I believe that the next step would be to integrate gender equality approaches into a much more comprehensive one, in the form of a Strategy for Inclusion and Equal Opportunities, an objective I am already working on as an Inclusion Expert within the consortium European university newly created this year under the name INGENIUM, of which the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University from Iasi is a part, along with 9 others from all over Europe.