COVID-19 impact on gender equality in academia: on 9/06 an online event to present the surveys’ results

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle, Unsplash

On June 9, 2021 from 4.00 to 5.30 pm CET, the SUPERA core teams from the University of Coimbra, the University of Cagliari and the Complutense University of Madrid will present the results of the study on the gendered impact of COVID-19 carried out in the three respective European universities.

The presentation will be introduced by Jörg Muller, expert in concepts and methods for researching the impact of gender diversity on research performance (Open University of Catalonia), and Nicole Huyghe, an expert in data analytics from a gender perspective (Boobook) will comment on the results; a final session will be devoted to the Q&A by the participants.

The participation to the event is open to everyone but registration is required through the link available here: a Zoom link to join the meeting will be sent a few hours before the start of the event.

For any question or information, please contact us at


  • Welcome by Lut Mergaert, Yellow Window
  • Introduction by Jörg Muller, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Presentations of Results 
    • CES-UC: Mónica Lopes, researcher at the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
    • UniCA: Barbara Barbieri, Associate Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Cagliari
    • UCM: María Bustelo, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM)
  • Comments on the results by Nicole Huyghe, CEO and founder of Boobook
  • Questions & Answers session by participants
  • Closing

Psychological dimensions of the impact of Covid-19 emergency

By Cristina Cabras, Silvia De Simone, Barbara Barbieri and Mirian Agus (University of Cagliari)

How did the pandemic scenario affect the performance of the academic staff? In order to answer to this question, in the context of the SUPERA project the University of Cagliari developed a survey with the aim to explore the impact of psychological, sociological, economics and communicative dimensions on the productivity of the academic staff during the Covid-19 crisis. This report anticipates the preliminary results concerning the psychological dimensions.

The survey was administered to 968 participants between September and October 2020 with a response rate of about 25%; the participation was completely voluntary, and the questionnaire ensured anonymity. A total of 243 participants (researchers, associate and full professors), 50% men and 50% women, ranging from 30 to 70 years old, completed the questionnaire. Ot them, almost 56% of participants have children.

We investigated the relation among perceived stress, work-family interface, workload, perceveid organizational support, work engagement, workplace social isolation, scientific productivity and satisfaction. To measure these variables, we administered standardized scales.

Multivariate analysis

We performed the multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to determine if there were significant differences between gender, academic position, presence/absence of children, scientific productivity and productivity satisfaction on the variables studied. The multivariate analysis of variance has age as a covariate.

While the results show a significant effect regarding gender, academic position, presence/absence children, productivity satisfaction, no significant effect was found on scientific productivity.

The results show that women feel more negative stress. A possible interpretation is that they feel to have less control over the most important aspects of their life and also to face too many difficulties in working environments.

Moreover, women perceive greater organizational support. In other words, they feel that their contributions and their efforts are appreciated, believing that the organization cares about their well-being and their job satisfaction. In addition to that, we found a significant effect regarding the academic position in relation to the negative interface of the family at work. In particular, the results show that full and associate professors have the highest levels of negative interface from family to work. This could mean that they have more problems with family interference in carrying out work assignments. In contrast, researchers hired on temporary contracts have the lowest levels of interference from family to work. The results show the highest levels of workload for associate and full professors: they are frequently asked to work hard and fast. On the other hand, researchers hired on temporary contracts have fewer workloads: this could mean that, compared to the other roles, they perceive a greater usefulness of their job duties and perceive they have less workload in terms of quality and quantity.

The presence of children is associated with higher levels of negative interference from work to family. It’s likely that those who have children have more negative relationships between work and family. Moreover, the presence of children is associated with higher levels of negative interference from family to work: those who have children have more negative interactions between family and work.

Finally, the results show that high levels of productivity satisfaction are associated with positive interference from work to family. It could mean that those with high satisfaction have positive experiences of interference from work to family.

Regression model

In order to test the role of the different dimensions of the work-family interface, workload and perceived organizational support on positive and negative perceived stress, productivity and productivity satisfaction, four regressions were conducted.

The regression models considered as dependent variables respectively: positive stress, negative stress, scientific productivity and satisfaction productivity; while as independent variables we have two blocks: workload and perceived organizational support, the four work-family interface dimensions.

Three models were significant, while the regression model of the scientific productivity variable did not show significant results.

The first regression model (dependent variable: Positive Perceived Stress) explains 6.3% of the variance, the second regression model (dependent variable: Negative Perceived Stress) explains 20% of the variance, and the third regression model (dependent variable: productivity satisfaction) explains 18% of the variance; instead, the four regression model (dependent variable: scientific productivity) did not show significant results.

Specifically, the results of the first regression show that only the positive work-to-family spillover is predictive of the positive perceived stress; there is therefore a positive association between the positive perception of stress and the positive work-to-family direction.

The results of the second regression show three predictors with a significant influence on the negative perceived stress. In particular, the data show a negative relationship between age and the negative perceived stress, between the positive work-to-family spillover and the negative perceived stress, while there is a positive relationship between the negative work-to-family spillover and the negative perceived stress.

Finally, there are two predictors for the productivity satisfaction dimension. The data show a positive relationship between positive work-to-family spillover and productivity satisfaction, while there is a negative relationship between the negative family-to-work spillover and productivity satisfaction.


  • Women feel more negative stress, even though at the same time they feel more supported by their own organization.
  • Full professors and associate professors are those who perceive the most workload and who perceive a conflict between the family and work domains with the family that negatively interfere with work.
  • Parents experience more negative stress than non-parents, but they feel more supported by the organization and experience more negative work-to-family and family-to-work spillover.
  • Positive stress is more associated with positive work-to-family spillover.
  • Negative stress is more associated with age (with increasing age, negative stress decreases) and with positive and negative work-to-family spillover.
  • Satisfaction with scientific productivity is mostly associated to a positive work-to-family spillover and to negative family-to-work spillover.
  • Scientific productivity is not explained by the dimensions analyzed in this study.
2021-03-31T17:51:36+02:00March 31st, 2021|Tags: , , , , , |

Gender-sensitive communication on social media, in practice: a pilot experience at UNICA

By Manuela Aru and Alessandro Lovari, University of Cagliari

A challenging, but definitely inspiring and stimulating experience. Every step of the process was fundamental: from the study of the materials to the design of every single part of the communication campaign”.

With these words, a student of the course of Public Sector Communication at the University of Cagliari described the experience in which she has been involved with other 19 students: a role-play activity in which the students had to act like a real communication agency, with the goal to design communication campaigns on Instagram, following the principles of gender-sensitive communication.

The initiative, designed and developed by Alessandro Lovari, Manuela Aru and Maria Antonietta Tolu (Department of Political and Social Sciences), has been promoted with the aim to foster the mainstreaming of a gender-equality culture within the students community and to put in practice the concepts highlighted by the gender-sensitive guidelines developed in SUPERA. In UNICA, the gender equality plan (GEP) can be conceived as an open laboratory, that may host pilot activities directly involving the different parts of the university community.

While the general goal of this pilot initiative was the engagement of the student’s community on the topics of equality and inclusion in academia, one of the specific objectives was to guide the students among the four steps of the design and implementation of an institutional social media communication campaign:
1) research and analysis of the context and the target groups;
2) remote brainstorming sessions to understand and analyse the proposed topics and key messages;
3) design and creation of gender-sensitive graphics and texts;
4) publication of the contents on Instagram, following an editorial calendar.

The final results can be described as effective, impactful and surprising, especially in terms of visual identity (the way you shape perception and create an impression through the values communicated by the graphics), tone of voice (the way students have decided to communicate the messages) and coherence between the general strategy and the objectives.

Effective – Although free of a previous knowledge or experience in the field of gender-sensitive communication, the students managed to adopt a perspective free of unconscious biases.

How shall we represent the impact of gender stereotypes on academic career? “No common metaphors: let’s pick the image of the domino effect”

What visual images can we use to describe the gender inequalities? “Not only ladders: what about depicting two funambulists linked each other by a rope, or two people together on a swing?”

A wide range of original representations have been chosen, from comic strips to statistics and graphs: an innovative and effective way to understand and describe gender-related issues to the wider public of the University community.

Campaigns by Adelaide Fois, Luca Scintu, Marta Rachele Pusceddu, Riccardo Ansaldi, Elisa Frongia, Dario Fonnesu, Simone Pucci and Davide Caboni

Impactful – One of the most relevant outcomes one could highlight is the care devoted by the students to inclusion and gender-sensitivity both on texts and visuals. The thing that mainly drew our attention and curiosity has been the great variety of the visuals used to depict the different moments of the academic life. Books as big as houses, people with blue skin, paths made of words, non-binary people with rainbow hair: an impactful representation of the concept of inclusion.

Campaigns by Michela Locci, Valentina Demurtas, Sara Mandis Pusceddu, Francesca Delepierre, Adelaide Fois, Luca Scintu, Marta Rachele Pusceddu, Riccardo Ansaldi, Laura Spissu, Silvia Uccheddu, Michela Vargiu and Giangabriele Tortora

Surprising – The use of Instagram could be considered an ordinary, daily and common task by 19-24 years old students; but it may still provide an effective way to get these students feel free to express their imagination and creativity. Indeed, Instagram includes text, video and pictures, with the possibility to create engagement with polls, question’s boxes, Stories and live streaming.

The most surprising detail concerns the capacity – and the courage – of the students to put themselves out there to create contents, express an opinion and talk about difficult topics such as gender-based violence, sexual harassment and mobbing with empathy and care. They created contents using the most powerful Instagram tools as the Stories (contents that disappear after 24 hours), the IGTV (longer videos used to create more compelling contents) and Reels (a new instrument to record and edit 15-seconds videos with music and effects). They always kept their language clear, as required by a public sector organisation, and respectful of all the differences and needs, in the effort to adopt an intersectional perspective.

Campaigns by Michela Locci, Valentina Demurtas, Sara Mandis Pusceddu, Francesca Delepierre, Lara Sciola, Marta Lilliu, Alessandro Useli and Alessandro Marras

It is important to highlight that the use of this uncommon approach by the students required an intense preliminary study: indeed, the first step of this project, according to the goals of the course, was the study of the key concepts of public sector communication and gender communication, and the analysis of different communication campaigns on gender topics released in Italy and Europe in the last few years. This preliminary work aimed at developing the ability to distinguish good and bad communication practices in the development of a campaign.

The study of the SUPERA communication plan provided a structure to the work projects: each group chose six of the SUPERA key messages – targeting the students communities – and developed six Instagram posts, with original graphics and captions. The analysis of the gender-sensitive communication guidelines produced by SUPERA has also been essential to guide the students through the values and the standards of gender-sensitive communication.

Campaigns by Laura Spissu, Silvia Uccheddu, Michela Vargiu, Giangabriele Tortora, Adelaide Fois, Luca Scintu, Marta Rachele Pusceddu, Riccardo Ansaldi, Lara Sciola, Marta Lilliu, Alessandro Useli and Alessandro Marras, Elisa Frongia, Dario Fonnesu, Simone Pucci and Davide Caboni

Each project was presented via Zoom to a committee of researchers and professionals in the fields of public and gender-sensitive communication who expressed its opinions and points of view on each work group, creating an inspiring moment of exchange and knowledge sharing. The committee was composed by a representation of the SUPERA team at UNICA and by a specialist in the public sector communication field, Franca Faccioli, Professor at the University of Rome – Sapienza.

We can definitely say it: the students of UNICA won this challenge! Great job!

2021-03-25T10:36:12+02:00March 12th, 2021|Tags: , , , , |

The Gender Equality Plan of the University of Cagliari now released in open access

In June 2020, the University of Cagliari has approved its first gender equality plan. Now the full document has been published by UNICApress, the University publishing house, and it’s available online in italian at this link.

2021-03-25T10:42:28+02:00October 6th, 2020|Tags: , , , |

Gender-sensitive communication in research and academia: the SUPERA guidelines

By Paola Carboni, University of Cagliari

Great news! The SUPERA consortium has published the “Tailor-made guides for gender-sensitive communication in research and academia”. These guidelines have been developed with three main aims: raising awareness on the growing importance of communication and language in supporting the institutional change towards gender equality; increasing the awareness that gender biases and stereotypes affect communication on a daily basis and providing useful advice to support the adoption of a gender-sensitive approach in the communication of any academic institution.

These Guidelines are designed to be used by everyone in research performing and research funding organisations: while they are primarily tailored for the media specialists holding communication responsibilities, they will be useful as well for everyone involved in communication activities: administrative or technical staff, researchers, the student communities.

The concepts proposed are aligned with the framework of RRI – Responsible Research and Innovation, the H2020 “cross-cutting issue” that redefines the role of researchers in society and promotes an inclusive approach to research and innovation. More specifically, our theoretical approach is situated at the intersection among three domains: institutional communication, science communication and interpersonal communication. Each of them is relevant for the communication of a research institution and each of them can be gender-sensitive or – on the contrary – stereotyped and discriminating, even if not knowingly.

The work begins with the analysis of two main corpora: resources on gender-sensitive communication developed within the framework of the “sister” EU funded projects and guidelines on gender-sensitive communication already developed by international organizations and universities. On the one side, the sisters projects shared with us materials such as webinars, case studies, official agreements, developed in the last 10 years of EU-funded projects and covering different aspects of the communication field. On the other side, mapping the already existing guidelines has demonstrated that the need for guidance is high, among different kinds of institutions. The analysis has been hugely interesting and we have shared the complete list in the Appendix 2.

The SUPERA guidelines include also a glossary of the key terms of gender equality in research and academia, in order to allow any reader with no previous gender knowledge to access to a first set of information. Another chapter has been devoted to the analysis of the main resistances against gender-sensitive communication, that may be even very strong: everyone working in this field very soon becomes familiar with expressions such as: “Gender-sensitive communication is not a priority, you should focus on other things”!

The second part of the guidelines contains practical advice and opens with an overview of two main concepts to take into consideration when adopting a gender-sensitive communication perspective: gender stereotypes and visibility vs. omission. The majority of the mistakes regarding gender-sensitive communication could be reported to one of those two fields.

After that, the analysis developes under five main communication areas: gender-sensitive language, visual and graphics, events, digital communication and media relations. From the selection of words and images to the inclusive management of events; from the best policies to adopt in digital communication to a non-discriminatory management of the relations with the media: the SUPERA Guidelines tries to merge the advice of the most influential guidelines with our scientific knowledge and professional experience to provide the readers with a (hopefully) exhaustive set of advice.

The SUPERA Tailor-made guides on gender-sensitive communication in research and academia have been developed by the University of Cagliari team, composed by Barbara Barbieri, Paola Carboni, Ester Cois, Alessandro Lovari, Erika Sois, while the illustrations are by Giorgia Cadeddu. The document is available in our Resources section at this link.

You are welcome to translate and disseminate the guides in your institutions, under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (CC BY-SA 4.0). A graphical template is also available as an Appendix.

Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram or at!

2021-03-25T12:00:16+02:00April 20th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , |