AOIFE Annual Report 2003

by Nina Lykke and Berit Starkman

 

 

1. The 5th European Feminist Research Conference - a major success:

2003 was an eventful year for AOIFE. First of all, the Fifth European Feminist Research Conference, which took place in Lund, Sweden, August 20-24, became a major success. The conference has been a recurring event, organised by Women's and Gender Studies Centres at different European universities every third year since 1991. So far Denmark (Aalborg), Austria (Graz), Portugal (Coimbra), Italy (Bologna) and now Sweden (Lund) have hosted the conference. Since the start of AOIFE in 1997, the conference has been arranged under the auspices of this organisation. In 2003, it was the Centre for Gender Studies at Lund University, Sweden, which had volunteered to host the conference, supported by the Dept. of Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. The conference attracted well over 500 participants from all over Europe as well as from other parts of the world, who for four days committed themselves to intense discussions of many aspects of the overall conference theme "Gender and power in the new Europe".

 

2. Announcement of 6th Feminist Research Conference - Lodz, Poland, 2006.

In the final session of the conference, the next conference to be held in 2006 was announced. It will be hosted by the Centre for Women's Studies at the University of Lodz, Poland.

3. AOIFE General Assembly

In connection with the conference in Lund, AOIFE held its General Assembly, where a new Council was elected, which is presented elsewhere in this issue. See the address by the new AOIFE president, prof. Elzbieta Oleksy, Centre for Women's Studies, University of Lodz, Poland. Many AOIFE members were present at the conference. At the conference it was among others decided that the secretariat of the organisation should be hosted for 3 more years by the Dept. of Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. A new council was elected with 9 regular members and 5 replacements. They are Elzbieta Oleksy, President (Poland), Margo Brouns, Vice-President (The Netherlands), Ute Gerhard (Germany), Ulla Holm (Sweden), Sasa Lada (Greece), Nicky LeFeuvre (France), Magda Michielsens (Belgium), Serena Sapegno (Italy), Svetlana Slapsak (Slovenia) and replacements Marcella Corsi (Italy), Rachel Alsop (UK), Maria Grönroos (Norway), Päivi Korvajärvi (Finland) and Thorgerdur Einarsdottir. Moreover, it was decided that core AOIFE projects and the managing director of AOIFE should have ex officio seats in the Council.

Council had proposed an amendment of the Statues revised at GA Sept 28, 2000. New 3rd paragaph in Article 11: The council of the Association

11.3. The persons in charge of AOIFE’s main activities (secretariat and EU projects) are invited by the council to participate in council meetings as ex officio members without the vote.

There are two reasons behind the proposal: 1) it is important that there is a firm connection between the council and the leaders of the most important activities, which today are the secretariat, ATHENA and the EWSI-project. A network of excellence would definitely consist such an activity. 2) Because of principles of democratic representation, rotation, and regional balance of council, ex officio members guarantee continuity, which in the future might be a problem

Council had proposed a change of standing orders revised at GA Sept.28, 2000:

The council proposes that the secretariat period at Tema Genus, Linköping University is prolonged until the end of 2006.

Point 6.1. first sentence will read as follows:

For the period 2004-2006, until the fourth General Assembly in 2006, the AOIFE Secretariat will be located at Tema Genus, Linköping University, Sweden.

Both the amendment of the Statues and the change of Standing orders were accepted by GA in Lund.

 

 

4. Economy

AOIFE Finances 2002

(See attached AOIFE Budget 2002, Appendix 1)

The incomce for 2002 was slightly smaller than 2001, due to fewer membership fees received and some cancellations of memberships. As the subsidy from Linköping university is calculated on the income received from membership fees, even this was slightly smaller this year. However, this does not affect the economy as the equivalent expenses in fact are not paid by the Secretariat.

The expenditure for wages was kept within budget and includes adm coordinator (secretariat) and also consulting hours for IT-consultant (web-page and AOIFE Newsletter). Travelling costs turned out to be less than calculated in the budget. Two council-meetings were held, one in Antwerp in October, where there also was a mini-conference, and one in connection with the ATHENA-meeting in Slovenia in November.

The first AOIFE Newsletter was printed and published in November 2002. The printing cost was almost within budget.

The accumulated surplus was at the end of 2002 less than at the beginning of the year, but the financial status is still stable.

AOIFE Finances 2003

(See attached AOIFE Budget 2003, Appendix 2)

The Budget result for 2003 is still to be approved by Council at the council-meeting to be held in connection with the ATHENA-meeting in Helsinki, Finland in May, 2004.

The income for 2003 was larger than 2002, due to the fact that a considerable amount of late payments (for 2001 and 2002) was received 2003. During the year AOIFE could also register eight new members and in total 55 membership fees for 2003 were received (52 institutional and 3 associate). The subsidy from Linköping university slightly smaller that in the estimated budget, as this income is calculated on membership fees received.

The expenditure for wages turned out to be smaller than in the estimated budget, mainly due to the fact that no AOIFE-News was produced this year and thus less wages paid to PhD-student. The wages include salary for administrative co-ordinator (secretary) and consultant hours for IT/web/membership profile.

Travelling costs turned out to be slightly smaller than estimated, mainly due to the fact that both the first and second council-meeting were held in connection with the ATHENA-meeting and 5th Feminist Research Conference in Lund, August 2003 and thus most of the costs paid by other means. The third council-meeting was held in Brussels in October 2003. Moreover, there was an AOIFE Task Force Meeting in Brussels in February 2003 and these costs are included here.

AOIFE also contributed to the 5th Feminist Research Conference according to previous council-decision with the sum of SEK 15000.

The surplus for 2003 was not as large as 2002, but still adds on to the previous sum and leaving AOIFE with a total surplus of approximately SEK 215000 (EURO 23600) at the end of 2003.

 

 

5. Memberships

Membership figures for 2002 and 2003

During 2002 there were four cancellations of memberships and three new memberships. On the other hand during 2003 eight new members were accepted, one renewed membership and only one cancellation.

 

Pr. 31.12

2002

2003

Members in AOIFE

70

77

ATHENA partners

66

69

Institutional members

64

70

Associate members

6

7

Exemptions

10

8

 

 

The pr. country distribution of member institutions (including institutional members, associate members as well as exemptions):

 

 

 

2002

2003

Austria

2

2

Belgium

3

3

Croatia

-

1

Denmark

3

3

Finland

6

6

France

1

3

Germany

2

2

Greece

1

1

Hungary

1

1

Iceland

1

1

Ireland

2

2

Italy

11

10

Latvia

1

1

Lithuania

1

1

Macedonia

1

1

Netherlands

6

6

Norway

5

5

Poland

1

1

Portugal

1

1

Serbia

-

1

Slovakia

-

1

Slovenia

1

1

Spain

2

4

Sweden

8

8

Switzerland

2

2

United Kingdom

7

7

Yugoslavia

1

2

 

6. ATHENA II approved:

Apart from the conference, a second major achievement for AOIFE in 2003 was the approval of ATHENA II. ATHENA (Advanced Thematic Network in European Women's Studies) is AOIFE's joint European curriculum development project. It was started in 1998, funded by EU Commission's SOCRATES programme. After the end of the first 3-year period of funding, a dissemination project was funded, which aimed at spreading the results of the first phase. At the same time an application for a new 3-year period - ATHENA II - was prepared. It goes without saying that it was very important for AOIFE as well as for the Women's and Gender Studies community in Europe that this application was approved. Gathering over 100 European universities with programmes/units/centres/departments for Women's and Gender Studies, the ATHENA project is a major player in the making of cross-national European Women's and Gender Studies.

 

 

7. An application for a network of excellence submitted to EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research:

Finally, in the field of research, the AOIFE Council continued the work, begun in 2002, to prepare for a European Feminist Research Institute. This goal was pursued 2003 via a big application for a so-called Network of Excellence, submitted to the EU Commission's 6th Framework Programme for research. The content as well as the fate of this application is described in more detail elsewhere in this issue.

A network of excellence is supposed "to promote excellence in Europe by means of a deep and lasting integration of excellence capacities" (Cf. COM 52001, Feb 21, 2001). The idea is to link existing excellent research units at universities and institutions in several Member States "into a critical mass of expertise by creating virtual centres of excellence" (Cf. COM 52001, Feb 21, 2001). The aim is to create a so-called European research area by making existing, but geographically scattered excellence centres join hands in a joint programme of research and research training activities which will lead to a permanent integration.

The network of excellence, which under the title "Gender, Societal Trends and Quality of Life: Integrating Feminist Research" was submitted by AOIFE in spring 2003, should link gender & diversity research on a European basis. The application referred to the solid foundation, made up by the huge and unique knowledge bases that exist on national levels, built up by interdisciplinary studies of gender & sociocultural diversity and the relationship of power differentials, based on intersections between gender, ethnicity, class, profession, sexuality, age and nationality. Moreover, it underlined that the heterogeneous and uneven process of institutionalisation of Women's and Gender Studies in Europe had had the effect that the potentials, clearly embedded in the national knowledge bases, for developing into a comparative and transnational research with a highly innovative, diversity-sensitive approach have not been fully explored on a European level. This goal could, however, the application argued, be pursued and create important European added value via a self-standing virtual centre of excellence that would integrate the national research capacities in a joint European programme of activities. Finally, the application mentioned that the network of excellence among others would be used to prepare for a durable structure: a European Feminist Research Institute. In addition, it deserves mentioning that the networking aims was formulated in line with EU's Social Policy Agenda (2000-2005) (COM (2000) 379, final, 28.6.2000) which addresses a rapidly changing sociocultural situation and mentions new kind of jobs, new household-types, migration, new intergenerational balances etc and points out an array of important social and cultural diversity indicators to be taken into account.

The network application was co-ordinated by AOIFE Council member prof. Elzbieta Oleksy, Centre for Women's Studies, University of Lodz, Poland, and prepared by the AOIFE Secretariat on behalf of the AOIFE Council. Women's and Gender Studies programmes/units/centres at 37 universities in 22 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK) took part in the application. An open organisational model was chosen so that more centres/programmes/units could be integrated after the start of the network.

The questions to be addressed by the Joint Programme of Activities of the network were: How are gender & diversity power differentials changing in the emerging knowledge based society, in particular in interaction with important societal trends such as changing relations of work and private life, changing use of time, communication and new media, new demographic trends and new identities? Do the changing gender & diversity power differentials enhance the quality of life for women, men and children in terms of creating more options and choices, equality and equal

opportunities? With these questions as pivot, the network of excellence intended to structure the European research area on gender & diversity studies. More precisely, the idea was to create high quality and high level integration through four main measures:

1) design of a joint research programme and implementation of a number of jointly executed research projects, based on transnational teams;

2) design and implementation of a joint Ph.D.training programme in gender & diversity research, linked to the joint research programme;

3) design and implementation of infrastructures (web portal, virtual mobility and exchange scheme for staff and students), which should facilitate integration and formation of transnational research and research training teams;

4) design and initiate implementation of a structure for durable integration beyond the period of Community funding in the shape of a European Feminist Research Institute.

What happened to the network of excellence application?

In many ways, the network of excellence application was positively evaluated. We were praised for the ways, in which we wanted to structure the European Research Area on gender & diversity research. Moreover, it was mentioned that the partners had impressive records in gender & diversity research and that they, generally, represented high quality research. The network was also highly commended for proposing a Joint Programme of Activities, which was considered to be comprehensive and well considered. Finally, it was pointed out that the combination of gender & diversity research could make up a very interesting and fruitful platform for addressing many aspects of the 5th Framework sub programme on Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge Based Society, under which the application was submitted. The budget, organisation and management of the network got top grades as well.

But even though the evaluation in very many ways was positive, we did not get the grant for the network. A couple of criticisms shot the project down. This happens, of course, often, because competition is very hard. If you believe enough in your project, you will try again, and use the old application to create a new and better one. This is not very special. So why do I mention it here? This is because the critique of our project involved principles of affirmative action and equal opportunities policies in ways, which may cause problems for other applicants from Gender Studies. In the worst case scenario, the interpretations, on which the evaluation was based, may have the effect that the potentials of existing European gender research to a great extent will be lost to EU's research programmes. What happened was that the evaluation report criticised the network for "gender bias" and for lack of a "well-considered plan for gender equality". In other words, the gender balance in the project was considered to be problematic. According to the evaluators, there were too few men and too little masculinity research in the project.

This became a matter of deep concern for the 37 network partners as well as for AOIFE:

1) First of all, it should be noted that the number of men in the project seems to match the relative proportions of highly qualified female and male researchers within the field of Gender Studies. The figures for the project are:

155 senior researchers - 144 women and 12 men,

129 Ph.D.students - 117 women and 12 men.

2) Secondly, we had, in fact, done a lot to integrate masculinity research in the project. Highly qualified and well known European masculinity researchers were part of the project. A few years ago a network on "The Social Problem and Societal Problematisation of Men and Masculinities" was funded under the 5th Framework Programme. This network of researchers, whose high research standards had been approved by the Commission via the 5th Framework grant, was part of the Consortium behind AOIFE's network of excellence application, and their work was integrated in the project design.

3) Thirdly, we felt very confident that we generally had constructed the network in accordance with principles of gender mainstreaming and promotion of women's participation in science, confirmed by DG Research and the Commission. Among others, we had included a gender action plan that aimed at integrating both women and men researching on socio-cultural aspects of

gender & diversity as well as promoting women's (especially young women's) participation in science and academic careers. To prove that our gender action plan was in line with EU-policies, we could, thus, refer to official EU documents such as the following:

a) the report "Science policies in the European Union", ed. M.Osborn et al, European Commission, 2000, which emphasises that "the under-representation of women threatens the goals of science in achieving excellence, as well as being wasteful and unjust" (cf. Executive summary, p. viii).

b) the "Science and Society Action Plan", European Commission 2002, which explicitly states that "specific measures must be taken to address both the under-representation of women in science, and the lack of attention paid to gender differences within research." (p.18)

c) the "Guide for proposers" of Priority 7 of the 6th Framework Programme, i.e. the priority, which the application addressed. Here, integration of the gender dimension in 6th Framework projects is among others defined as encouragement of "women's participation in research" (p. 45). It is stated that the gender action plan of submitted projects should be built on a "set of measures chosen by the contractor, according to its analysis of what is appropriate in the frame of the project, and on the basis of its comprehension of the gender issue in science" (ibid.). It is thus the

contractor's responsibility and right to define appropriate steps to be taken. But an important focus of the examples are special actions to promote and strengthen the interest and participation of women.

Against the background of these unambiguous statements concerning the importance of actions to counter-act the under-representation of women in science, an evaluation report, which penalises AOIFE's proposed network of excellence for promoting female researchers, including young female Ph.D.students, has surprised and concerned the network partners considerably. On top of this, the evaluation made us even more concerned, because we, in addition to counter-acting the under-representation of women in science, had taken the integration of men and masculinity research into the field of Gender Studies very carefully into account by inviting prominent masculinity researchers to be part of the application.

Based on these considerations, AOIFE and the partners have written to the EU-Commission and complained about the evaluation.

Appendix 1

 

Budget approved by Council August 18, 2003

 

Estimated

Result Dec 2002

AOIFE budget result 2002

EURO

SEK

EURO

SEK

Surplus from 2001

16852

155923

16948

155923

Recalculation of currency for 2002 1 EURO = 9:20 SEK

Income

Membership fees for 2001 but paid 2002

4500

41625

1500

13800

Membership fees (1)

28 000

259 000

20500

188600

Estimated subsidy from LiU (2)

15800

146156

13289

122264

Sum income

48 300

446 781

35 289

324 664

Expenses

Wage (3)

12 760

118 030

12826

118000

Travelling (secretariat)

4378

40500

3516

32347

Council meeting & mini-conference

9275

85800

6886

63350

Printing, materials etc

1730

16000

2132

19610

Bank fees (4)

Possible unexpected expenses

108

1000

Estimation of expenses, LiU (2)

15800

146156

13289

122264

(unpaid by AOIFE)

Sum expenses

44 051

407 486

38 649

355 571

Surplus/deficit

21 101

195 218

13 588

125 016

(1) Calculated at 55 institutional and 2 associate members 1 EURO = 9:25 SEK

Payments received 2002: 42 members (40 institutional + 2 associate) at the rate 1 EURO = 9:20 SEK

14 membership fees for 2002 paid during 2003 and will be added on the budget for 2003

3 membership fees for 2001 paid during 2003 and will be added on the budget for 2003

(2) Office costs calculated at 31%of handling costs, computer, telephone + managing director (estimated 30 days/year)

31% handling cost on actual income (membership fees received during 2002) + managing director

(3) Calculated on a basis of one day-a-week salary for adm coordinator (secretary) + consultant hours for IT/AOIFE News/web membership profile (PhD-student 10%)

(4) 70 SEK charged by the bank for each payment received (included in handling costs)

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 2

Budget to be finally approved by Council at Helsinki-meeting in May 2004

Estimated

Result Dec 2003

AOIFE budget result 2003

EURO

SEK

EURO

SEK

Surplus from 2002

13738

125016

13738

125016

Currency change 1 EURO = 9:10 SEK

Income

Membership fees (1)

30 750

279 825

26750

243425

14 membership fees for 2002 paid 2003

7 000

63 700

7500

68250

3 membership fees for 2001 paid 2003

1 500

13 650

1500

13650

Estimated subsidy from LiU (2)

19481

177280

18295

166480

Sum income

58 731

534 455

54 045

491 805

Expenses

Wage (3)

17 033

155 000

12884

117240

Travelling (secretariat)

2197

20000

1714

15600

Council meeting & mini-conference

10440

95000

8970

81630

Printing, materials etc

2418

22000

623

5672

Possible unexpected expenses

110

1000

1648

15000

Estimation of expenses, LiU (2)

19481

177280

18295

166480

(unpaid by AOIFE)

Sum expenses

51 679

470 280

44 134

401 622

Surplus 2003

7 052

64 175

9 911

90 183

Surplus 2002

13738

125016

13738

125016

Total surplus

20 790

189 191

23 649

215 199

(1) Calculated at 60 institutional and 3 associate members 1 EURO = 9:10 SEK. 55 memberships paid 2003

(52 institutional/3 associate)

(2) Office costs calculated at 31%of handling costs incl. computer, telephone + managing director (estimated 30 days/year)

(3) Calculated on a basis of one day-a-week salary for adm coordinator (secretary) + consultant hours

for IT/AOIFE News/web membership profile (PhD-student 20%). No AOIFE-News printed 2003 so therefore less wages

than calculated