Panel H.02 — Ending gender-based violence in higher education institutions: Policies and problems

Convenors Marcela Linková (Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic); Lut Mergaert (Yellow Window, Belgium); Sofia Strid (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

Keywords Gender-based violence, higher education institutions, measures, challenges, solutions


Gender-based violence (GBV) is a widespread systemic problem in higher education and research, with severe negative consequences for institutions (economic, reputational), individuals (health, wellbeing and related study/career outcomes), and societies (Anitha and Lewis 2018; Bondestam and Lundqvist 2020; Humbert et al. 2022). GBV does not affect people in academia equally: overall, 62% of the 42,000 UniSAFE survey respondents experienced at least one form of GBV at the work/study place. For women it was 66%, for non-binary people 74%, for LGBQ+ 68%, for those with a disability or chronic illness 72%, and for ethnic minorities 69% (Humbert et al. 2022; Lipinsky et al. 2022). Specific groups in academia are more at risk due to their structural position in the system, including doctoral candidates, early-career researchers, researchers on temporary contracts and in precarious positions, mobile researchers (Blazyte and Pilinkaite Sotirovic 2023). Despite the wealth of data and insights into the types of action needed UniSAFE toolkit), some issues continue to be underexplored and institutions face multiple implementation challenges.

This panel welcomes abstracts addressing such challenges and underexplored topics, e.g.:

  • The underreporting by victims: while covered in relation to intimate partner violence (Polettini et al. 2023; Fernández-Fontelo et al. 2019; Gracia 2004), there is scant research on underreporting of gender-based violence in academia, although organisational studies suggest the existence of a “culture of silence” fuelled by power-relations and inequality regimes (Duffy et al. 2023. Abstracts would address reasons and consequences of underreporting, differences across inequality groups; measures/mechanisms that increase reporting.

  • Applying the principle of survivor-centredness in institutional responses: balancing the rights of victims/survivors against those of the accused, while granting maximum agency to victims/survivors (Crocker et al. 2020)

  • Running risk assessments, this topic, including the development and evaluation of concrete tools, is covered for intimate partner violence (e.g. EIGE 2019), but not for GBV in academia, where the specific organisational structure and issues linked to hierarchy, hyper-competition, extreme individualism and masculinities add complexity to prevalence/consequences – and the risk assessments thereof (Strid 2021).

  • Implementing precautionary measures: how can the safety of reporting parties be secured, ensuring protection from retaliation and adverse impacts of reporting, while simultaneously respecting the rights of the responding party? What are principles of good practice? (1752 Group and McAllister Olivarius 2021)

  • Holding perpetrators accountable and setting up fair and proportionate systems of discipline, while simultaneously prioritising the needs and rights of victims. While there are examples of so-called dialogue models with systematic accountability for perpetrators (Jülich 2010; Koss 2010, 2014), there seems to be a lack of evidence that existing measures have the intended effects (Bondestam and Lundqvist 2020). Further, stereotypes influence who is protected, who has influence, and who is marginalised (Naezer et al. 2019.

  • Sanctioning, active monitoring, evaluating the effectiveness of institutional policies and measures, and more.

The panel welcomes submissions that present a practice/measure, explain the challenges, and situate them in scholarly debates. A discussion will deepen the insights into the facilitating and hindering factors affecting implementation, and identify possible solutions.


Guidelines and abstracts submission