April 17, 2018
On the 23rd and 24th of March, AEGEE-Bilbao hosted the first conference organised by the Equal Rights Working Group of AEGEE-Europe, titled “Reflect & React: Discrimination of Women at Work”. Since 2017, AEGEE-Europe adopted Equal Rights as one of its Focus Areas, with the aim to “acknowledge and tackle discrimination based on gender identity, expression and sexual orientation, promoting equity from an intersectional perspective.”
The goal of the conference was to discuss why women encounter significant difficulties in entering the job market and in building a career, and to identify possible solutions. Since the conference was located in the Engineering Faculty of the University of the Basque Country a special attention was given to women’s access to jobs in the fields of science and technology.
Quique Cañada and Viola Bianchetti (members of the Equal Rights Working Group) were in charge of the content of the conference, while members of AEGEE-Bilbao took care of all the organisational and logistical side of the event. The core team of local organisers comprised Ana González, Raúl Ibargüen, María Monzón and Jesús Pérez, while twelve local active members contributed as helpers before and during the event.
The conference started with an introductory workshop by the Equal Rights Working Group, presenting the Focus Area and inviting participants to reflect on the obstacles which different types of women can face in accessing and succeeding in the job market. During the Opening Ceremony, Marivi Herrero (Communications Vice-Director of the University) welcomed the participants, and was followed by Laura Alonso, member of the Student Council, who presented the initiatives implemented in the University to promote equality and prevent episodes of harassment and discrimination. The morning ended with a lecture by Jone I. Elizondo, an independent legal policy analyst in diversity, equality and non-discrimination, who talked about multiple and intersectional discrimination in the EU and the EU member states. Her presentation provided the participant with an interesting overview of the legal framework of anti-discrimination in Europe.
The afternoon session began with the speeches of two female entrepreneurs from Bilbao: Miren Lauzirika (creative worker, consultant and trainer) and Arantza Arruti Gómez (Professor, Entrepreneur and Researcher at the Faculty of Psychology and Education of the University of Deusto). They presented their experience as female professionals, gave some advice to the audience and explained how being a woman affects your career choices and opportunities.
Afterwards, Núria Salán (Professor at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia) gave an inspiring workshop about women in science and technology. She explained how female scientists and technicians have been made invisible throughout history and how women had to struggle to obtain the right to access education in these fields.This is reflected today in a very low percentage of girls studying STEM subjects. Ms Salán aims at denouncing this situation and motivating more and more women to enter the scientific and technological field.
Participants engaged with all the speakers by asking questions and intervening actively during the sessions. The speakers were positively impressed by the interest demonstrated by the audience and the high level of interaction.
The last session of the day was a workshop by the Equal Rights Working Group on gender bias patterns in the workplace.
The next morning was devoted to finding solutions to the problem of gender discrimination in the workplace.Participants were asked what can be done at the individual level, at the level of civil society, and at the institutional level.
In the afternoon, the participants enjoyed a city tour organised by AEGEE-Bilbao.
You can read a more complete report of the conference in this booklet. If you are interested in what AEGEE-Europe does on the topic of Equal Rights, you can contact the Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow it on Facebook