Gender+ is a two-year Erasmus+ project which will address gender inclusion within Vocational Education and Training (VET). The project will develop governance and benchmarking tools to improve gender equality within vocational education as well as provide resources to help address rapidly changing societal expectations around gender identity. Despite advancements made in gender equality (such as the campaign to encourage girls and women to enter STEM careers), many courses continue to be split along traditional gender lines and minority gender groups, such as non-binary and trans students, are also underrepresented. Although VET institutions may be attempting to overcome stereotypes and embrace gender mainstreaming, this process can be slow, including complex challenges and requiring changes to facilities, processes and attitudes. Therefore, our project will produce a series of resources to help VET institutions improve gender equality and inclusion by allowing for a better understanding of how they can develop services that take into account a range of gender identities.
The three resources that the project will produce to aid VET institutions in becoming more gender inclusive, or gender positive, are:
A Gender+ Charter
This charter will set out the minimum requirements an organisation should adhere to in order to be considered gender positive. This will include provisions in HR policy and staff training, course design, facilities offered and student support services.
A benchmarking tool
An interactive benchmarking tool will be developed allowing practitioners to measure how gender inclusive their organisation is. Organisations will be able to assess their current services and track improvements in gender inclusion by scoring themselves against the Gender+ Charter. This will form a ‘Gender Footprint’: organisations that score highly against the benchmarking tool and achieve an ‘excellent’ footprint will be awarded a Gender+ quality mark which can be used to promote their gender positive status.
Gender Champion skills profile
A skills profile and additional support resources to help organisations develop the role of a ‘Gender Champion’ will be developed. This is because successful, high impact provision is best developed in institutions that have a dedicated member of staff driving forward policy and development.
The project’s primary target group will be VET school leaders, HR managers and other senior management , as they are responsible for the governance structures in VET institutions. The project will also be able to influence an improved gender inclusion approach more widely across VET, helping to facilitate changes in structure and policy and creating a more gender inclusive society.
We are the coordinators of this project and our project partners are: BFE from Bulgaria, CIAPE from Italy, CSI from Cyprus, Learnmera Oy from Finland and Ljudska Univerza Nove Gorica from Slovenia. Our Kick-off meeting took place in Bulgaria in January and the second meeting will take place in Cyprus in May. Currently, we are conducting research into gender inclusion across each of the partner countries which will help us begin the development process of these resources.