Safe Study Environment Should Be a Given

Ethics Students Employees

Employees, staff, and students of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen can learn about gender-based violence and how to defend against it through the Gender Information Center Nora.

Training videos helping to create a society that promotes fair conditions and a safe work or study environment. This is the output of the project "Prevention of Gender-Based Violence in the Work Environment of Public Institutions and Universities in the Czech Republic," financially supported by Norwegian funds. Behind it stands the Gender Information Center Nora, which collaborates with the research center NTC of the University of West Bohemia.

According to UniSAFE, the largest European survey on gender-based violence (GBV) in academic settings in 2022, up to 62% of individuals surveyed experienced some form of gender-based violence since starting work or studying at their institution. In the case of women, this figure was 66% who encountered GBV. The most vulnerable groups are individuals with disabilities (72%), ethnic minorities (69%), or LGBTQ+ individuals (68%).

"Gender-based violence is a spectrum of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior, ranging from mild harassment to serious forms of sexual assault. Any such behavior is unacceptable. Therefore, our organization has decided to implement a project to educate all employees and students on how to recognize violence in academic and research environments and how to defend against it," said Eva Lukešová, Director of the Gender Information Center at Nora, o.p.s.

What can be specifically understood by the term gender-based violence? For example, when a professor cannot resist remarking in their lecture that girls don't need to try hard since they'll get pregnant soon and leave the field; a lecturer gives better grades to students in tight shirts during exams, or a doctoral student sends private messages to all bachelor students urging them to go on a date with them. "While some may find these examples amusing, they are indeed cases of gender-based violence," Lukešová stated. In worse cases, one may encounter unwanted touching, explicitly erotic messages, or deliberate denial of financial rewards.

Through 10 short videos discussing different forms of violence, universities and research institutions can take the first step towards preventing and addressing a broader spectrum of gender-based violence and harassment. "Violence in the workplace may not only be perpetrated by individuals but may also involve institutions and their internal rules and processes," Lukešová shared her experiences.

Universities are at the beginning of addressing this issue. As indicated by the UniSAFE research, only 13% of individuals who experienced gender-based violence reported it. "Would you know how to respond if you encountered or witnessed gender-based violence?" Lukešová asked, further stating her joy that since January of this year, there has been an ombudsman at the University of West Bohemia.

When it is worth turning to the ombudsman, you can learn from the mentioned videos. Therefore, do not hesitate to familiarize yourself with them at these links:

The videos are also available in Czech at these links.

The Gender Information Center NORA collaborates with the University of West Bohemia on the Girls' Labs project, aimed at contributing to breaking down gender stereotypes associated with STEM fields. The main coordinator of the project is the NTC Research Center, with the involvement of the company Bosh.

New Technologies - Research Centre (NTC)

Dita Sládková

08. 04. 2024