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The FESTA project
Since February 2012, FBK has been contributing to the FESTA European (Female Empowerment in Science and Technology Academia) project. The Scientific Director of FESTA is FBK's Secretary General, Andrea Simoni. The project coordinator is FBK researcher Ornella Mich, who is assisted by a technical and scientific Board whose members are Alessandro Dalla Torre, Lorenza Ferrario, Anna Perini and Georg Pucker, and by a staff that includes research, administrative and managerial personnel relating to the institution.
The five-year project, supported by the European Union in the context of the Seventh Framework Program, is coordinated by the University of Uppsala (Sweden). It involves, in addition to FBK, the Siddansk Universitet (Denmark), the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (Germany), the Universty of Limerick (Ireland), the Istanbul Teknik Universitesi (Turkey), and the South-West University Neofit Rilski, Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria).
The goal of FESTA is to give way to a transformation of the workplace in academic settings and, more generally, in science and technology research areas, aimed at creating the conditions in which the professional skills of women researchers can be fully recognized and appropriately promoted. In particular, FESTA aims to verify the existence, in daily worklife, of situations that could hinder the emergence of the professional skills of female researchers, preventing their adequate development: formal and informal decision-making and communication procedures, supervision methods of male and female PhD students, cultural assumptions about excellence criteria, forms of resistance to the recognition and/or change of such criteria... The proposal, implementation and verification of the effectiveness of models alternative to practices that might lead to gender discrimination is at the heart of FESTA, which is thus a strongly operative project.
A more specific responsibility of FBK within the FESTA consortium is, in more detail, the direction of research efforts aimed at identifying and modifying communication and decision-making mechanisms of an informal nature deemed potentially discriminatory. These schemes will be corrected by introducing measures aimed at decision-making and communicative practices and habits that will result in a fully transparent and inclusive work environment, capable of fostering the emergence of professional excellence at all levels.
Each activated instrument will be evaluated and maintained for continuous improvement, in order to make them fully effective. Important, at this stage, is the role and competences of IRVAPP, external and neutral qualified interlocutor.