Gender Equality

Gender Equality policy

The Gender Equality policy is the outcome of a two-year-long study and comprehensive consultations with all university stakeholders. We undertook a rigorous, research-driven analysis to identify unconscious bias and actions to achieve sustainable gender equality through systemic change. The Gender Equality audit led from January to April 2019 sought to understand how the University compares with similar universities in terms of the gender composition of staff members, along with research into staff members’ own perceptions and experiences of gender equality.

The audit and the thorough discussions that followed served as the basis for the present Gender Equality policy.

Focus policy areas for 2021-2023

  • Awareness

    Raising awareness promotes and encourages a general understanding of gender-related challenges at the University and beyond. To do so, the University will provide tools and training for staff and produce and publish yearly gender-disaggregated statistics.

  • Staff composition

    The University is committed to removing any discriminatory barrier in recruitment, retention, and career opportunities, to ensure the optimal use of talents. This will be taken forward over the Four-Year plan by gender-proofing recruitment, retention, and promotion procedures to improve staff gender balance, as well as addressing gender imbalances in decision-making processes.

  • Work-life balance

    During the Four-Year plan, the University aims to improve the balance between work and caring responsibilities, so that staff members, with no distinction of gender or marital status, with parenting or other primary caring responsibilities, are not disadvantaged in their daily working life and career development. As part of this, further childcare services and better access to information on family leave will be explored.

  • Workplace climate

    The University will maintain and reinforce its strong commitment to zero tolerance of harassment, mobbing, or any form of discrimination in any of its activities, through developing systems for confidential reporting, dispute resolution transparent and straightforward procedure for a prompt and effective review and investigation of harassment or bullying complaints.

  • Communication

    The University will over the Four-Year plan promote diversity and inclusivity in interpersonal communication among staff members and students, to avoid discriminatory and gendered words and expressions, gendered role titles and stereotypes.

  • Teaching and research

    The development and the transmission of knowledge related to gender can increase awareness of inequalities and their multidimensional adverse effects, creating the space for actions to tackle these issues. As such, the University will explore building teaching programmes and seminars related to gender studies and envisages contributing to gender research with possible professorial positions in gender-related research fields.

Policy measures for 2022-2025

  • Establish and Publish Yearly Gender-disaggregated Statistics

    To raise awareness, the Gender Equality Officer, in collaboration with the Office of Statistics and Institutional Research (OSIR), produces annual gender-disaggregated data linked to:

    1. Access and opportunities
    2. Participation (research, leadership positions, etc.)
    3. Participation in resources.

  • Staff composition

    We systematically reach out to the less represented gender candidates and actively search (via headhunting or consultation of databases) for these candidates.

    In line with European Research Council guidelines, eighteen months per child is deducted from the years constituting female candidates’ academic careers. For paternity, six months shall be deduced if the candidate proves to have taken parental leave. Similar rules apply to other long leaves. This measure’s rationale is fairness, not penalising candidates for “career breaks” that coincide with childbearing and childrearing years. It applies to all staff members.

    To proactively sustain gender equality in professorial positions, we will establish an excellency chair programme to hire candidates of the under-represented gender proactively. These chairs will reinforce the diversity in talents. They will symbolise the University’s values of a modern institution aiming to advance talented international researchers.

  • ADVANCE mentoring programme

    We are establishing a mentoring scheme – ADVANCE, at the University of Luxembourg to support the career development of researchers in academia, in particular females (the initial focus on females is a direct response to the results of the Gender Equality Audit). ADVANCE aims to foster a creative and supportive research culture, it will build upon existing initiatives to develop a comprehensive framework that supports researchers to effectively advance their careers.

    As defined by the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC) “Mentoring is a learning relationship, involving the sharing of skills, knowledge, and expertise between a mentor and mentee through developmental conversations, experience sharing, and role modelling.”

    ADVANCE seeks to create safe spaces for researchers to explore career options and plan future action. In the spring of 2023, we will start a pilot for different Mentoring strands:

    • ADVANCE Fellows: Senior doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows, aiming to pursue an academic career.
    • ADVANCE Faculty: Starting assistant professors.
    • ADVANCE Circles, group mentoring for doctoral candidates (peer- or mentor-centered groups).

    Participants in the program will through structured conversations explore their potential and get advice on their careers, be challenged to think beyond what they know, while in a protected environment. In addition, participants will benefit from a career development training program.

    If you are interested in participating and/or would like to learn more, please contact Inês Crisóstomo (Gender Equality Office).

  • Work-life balance

    • The University will also continue to offer childcare services for participants at scientific events on our institution’s premises. For any questions on this, please write to
    • The University will guarantee that all information related to maternity/paternity and pregnancy should be readily available (e.g., via a family-friendly initiatives office).
    • To ensure that pregnant staff employees are not disadvantaged in their career development, the University is committed to improving accessibility to research spaces while preserving the compatibility with the Service de Santé au Travail’s safety requirements.
    • The university staff members can benefit from slots reserved at the Maison Relais Babbeltiermchen.

    Maison Relais Babbeltiermchen (formerly Maison Relais rue Wilmar) was inaugurated on 5 October 2009. The idea of the projects’ initiators City of Luxembourg, the Ministry of Family and Integration, the asbl Inter-Actions as well as the University, was to welcome University of Luxembourg students’ and staff’s children as well as children of Limpertsberg’s urban quartier residents.

    The premises are provided by the City of Luxembourg, and the facilities have been financed by the University of Luxembourg in collaboration with the Ministry of Family and Integration.

  • Workplace climate

    • The University will develop a confidential and anonymous reporting system to disclose alleged cases of harassment. This system will inform authorities of perceived harassment and enable informal intervention while protecting the identity of the reporter. Relatedly, following the disclosure of incidents and at the request of the reporter, the University will consider using “interim measures” and “modifications” in cases of perceived moral harassment or sexual harassment.
    • The University will build an Appropriate Dispute Resolution committee to resolve conflicts formally or informally, where possible. Some of the facilitators are already present as the Rectorate, the Office of the Ombudsman, HR partners, Staff and Student Delegation, and the Inclusion Officer. Others (e.g. university mentor-facilitators, ombuds-committee for doctoral candidates) may be newly constituted, if necessary.
    • Finally, with the Ombudsman’s advice, the University will establish a transparent and straightforward procedure for a prompt and effective review and investigation of harassment or bullying complaints.
  • Inclusiveness

    Gender-inclusive language guidelines

    We will build guidelines for a gender-inclusive language. Many languages (e.g. Luxembourgish, French, German and English) use masculine nouns and pronouns in situations where the gender is unclear or variable. The same applies if a group to which we are referring contains members of different genders. Such language practices are becoming increasingly unacceptable, and the University is committed to reflecting gender identities more accurately in day-to-day communication. At our University, we want to convey ideas clearly and accurately to all colleagues and students. We will use several different strategies such as proper use of pronouns, the feminisation of job titles, non-discriminatory language, and avoiding gendered expressions. These guidelines are helpful not only for the University’s documents but also for a vector of awareness about gender inclusiveness at our institution.

    Gender inclusive documents

    As per the Rectorate decision on 18 December 2019, we will modify the gender recording in the official University documents, questionnaires, and surveys, adding a third option of choice to the question related to gender in university forms. This measure highlights the will of the University to be an inclusive workplace. Its implementation approach is systemic, including several University offices (recruitment platforms, HR procedures, student enrolment, …).

Gender Equality Audit 2020

From 20 January 2020 to 14 February 2020 we ran a gender equality audit.

The audit aimed to provide a robust evidence base to help identify areas where the university was performing well in regard to gender equality, and specific areas that needed more attention or resources. This research was used to feed into the university’s gender equality policy.

The audit developed in two steps.

  • 1. Staff survey

    We distributed a survey of 50 questions to all staff members working at the institution, including both academic and administrative staff. Staff were asked about seven main areas related to gender equality at the University:

    • Perceptions of the University and work-life
    • Bullying, harassment and mobbing
    • Unconscious bias and discrimination in recruitment and promotions
    • Career pathways
    • Time spent on activities
    • Training
    • Caring responsibilities
  • 2. Benchmarking

    The identity characteristics of staff members at the University of Luxembourg were benchmarked against a selection of comparable universities in the UK, using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).