Université libre de Bruxelles

Research Performing Organisation

The organisation

The Universite libre de Bruxelles (ULB) consists of 13 faculties, schools and specialized institutes covering all the disciplines. Founded in 1834, the ULB has a long tradition of excellence in research with four scientific Nobel Prizes, one Fields Medal, three Wolf Prizes and two Marie Curie Excellence Awards. It is one of the largest and best Research Universities in Belgium. The university also played a pioneering role in the presence of women in Belgian universities, welcoming the first three women university students, the first woman assistant, the first woman professor and the first – and only until now – woman rector in French speaking Belgium.

Status of gender inequalities before CALIPER

There is clearly a gradual erosion of women throughout the scientific and academic career: if the distribution of women and men are almost equal at the R1 stage, the presence of women in the higher levels decreases. 56% of the general student population of the ULB consists of women (2017-2018). In the health and art sector, women represent respectively 59% and 64% of the students. Whereas in the science sector the proportion of female students decreases strongly: only 37% of the students are women. Gender segregation is also visible from figures on graduate and PhD students: Women count for only 31% of PhD students in the sciences.

Existing gender equality policies at a faculty level

The university postulates that “any committee responsible for examining candidatures for academic appointments or promotions shall be composed, in the extent possible, of at least one third of members of each sex.” The ULB foresees also per maternity leave one supplementary year in seniority for internal calls for research projects. During this school year (2017-2018), the ULB has organized for the first time a specialized inter-university master program in gender studies. ULB also has a research collective called “STRIGES” that regroups all researchers in social sciences working on gender equality issues. The ULB already started with the implementation of measures and initiatives to stimulate gender equality at the university. Two groups of existing measures can be distinguished: measures at university level and at faculty level. These actions are however not part of a more structured and long-term gender equality plan.

For the Université libre de Bruxelles the participation in CALIPER represents an excellent opportunity to improve and further expand the gender equality and diversity actions already in place at the University (see ULB Gender equality charter and ULB Diversity plan). Moreover, CALIPER’s focus on the STEM disciplines allows us to specifically address gender inequalities in these fields of knowledge, characterised by the low presence of female students, researchers and professors and the low level of integration of the gender perspective in research content. Nowadays, the scarcity of human resources in the STEM field, a strategic economic area for both employment and social innovation, is partly explained by the lack of women. It has also been proved that gender-sensitive approaches lead to higher quality research and social innovation that takes into account people’s and society’s needs. ULB’s participation in CALIPER is thus a great chance to foster gender equality in STEM as a priority axis in the technology transfer to society in two different ways: by increasing equal opportunities for women and men as STEM experts and by improving the quality of research and social innovation.

GEP Working Groups

Scope: At ULB we have established two very motivated Working Groups (WG):
– The operational WG is made up of professors and researchers from the two STEM ULB faculties targeted in CALIPER. It meets twice a month and is in charge of performing, together with the organisation team, the actions directly related to the Gender Equality Plan: the assessment, design, implementation and evaluation of the GEP.
– The consultative WG is made up of members from the high and middle management of the University as well as students. It has a consultative and strategic role for the implementation of the project and the improvement of gender equality at our University. It also acts as an interface between the CALIPER project and the faculties/University, assuming a communication and dissemination role.

Operational Working Group members

Barbara CLERBAUX, Professor in Physics, Faculty of sciences
Dimitri LEEMANS, Professor in Mathematics, Faculty of sciences
Isabelle GEORGE, Professor in Bio-engineering, Interfaculty school of bio-engineers
Nathalie GYPENS, Professor in Bio-engineering, Interfaculty school of bio-engineers
Jennifer WATCHI, PhD researcher in Bio, Electro and Mechanical Systems, Polytechnic school

Consultative Working Group members

  • Isabelle MAZZARA (F) ULB General director
  • Daniele CARATI (M) Research department director, Central - ULB
  • Jean-Christophe LELOUP (M) Gender contact person at faculty level / professor
  • Frederic ROBERT (M) Dean / professor Polytechnic school
  • Morgane DE TOEUF (F) Student
  • Christine DECAESTECKER (F) Gender contact person at faculty level / professor Polytechnic school
  • Olivier MARKOWITCH (M) Dean / professor, Faculty of sciences
  • David PATERNOTTE (M) Co-coordinator of STRIGES (interdisciplinary group on gender studies) / professor
  • Valerie PIETTE (F) ULB’s authorities advisor for gender equality policy / professor
  • Monique TAVERNIER (F) ULB Gender contact person
  • Barbara TRUFFIN (F) Co-coordinator of STRIGES (interdisciplinary group on gender studies) / professor

Organisation team

Laurent LICATA, ULB Vice-rector of academic policy and career management, in charge of gender and diversity policies / Professor in Social psychology
Patricia MÉLOTTE ULB Gender and diversity officer
Sara AGUIRRE, ULB gender and diversity researcher and CALIPER project manager