November 18th, 2021, Mykolas Romeris University, (MRU) and the European Women Rectors Association, (EWORA) organized the 5th international seminar, "Challenges of Gender Equality in Higher Education During the Times of Turbulence."
MRU Rector Prof. Inga Žalėnienė, EWORA Board member, moderated the remote seminar, which first introduced Lithuania's experience in this field. EWORA President Prof. Gulsun Saglamer welcomed and addressed seminar participants.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected the education system not only in Lithuania, but also in the world. From auditoriums, laboratories and lecture halls, we had to move to private quarters at home, which have become study and work places and also places for undertaking household duties and taking care of children," said Rector Prof. Žalėnienė. The additional "household" burden often lies with women, impacting their professional career.
The Rector pointed out that the women's equality index is clearly linked to the political, economic and social progress, and people's well-being. Climate change, pandemics, geopolitical tensions, technological revolutions pose new challenges for higher education. "Our responsibility is to create equal opportunities for all members of the academic community to become highly-qualified professionals, creating the progress of society and a sustainable future," stressed Rector Prof. Žalėnienė.
University leaders, researchers and gender equality experts from Austria, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Germany discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global threats to higher education and the performance of women's effectiveness in academia. Considerati0n was given to attracting new talent to academic circles and to creating equal opportunities for women to achieve good research results.
In her presentation, Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) Social Work Dept. Prof. Natalija Mažeikienė and a SPEAR project researcher, discussed how the global challenges of higher education affect the gender equality situation. Also there was discussion on how to improve working conditions at the university to ensure equal opportunities and enable talents.
Equal Opportunities Ombudsman lawyer Birutė Sabatauskaitė presented the good practices and problems of equal opportunities.
Vilnius University (VU) Equal Opportunities Coordinator Dr. Rūta Ruolytė-Verschoore introduced VU Diversity and Equal Opportunities 2020-2025 - progress of the strategy. She emphasized that gender was a sensitive issue and that consistent training and other methodological tools were needed to raise awareness throughout the University community.
EWORA, established in Brussels in 2015, promotes the role of women in leadership positions in the academic sector and advocates gender equality in higher education and research.