In Greek academia, women are few and far between

Most university teaching staff in Greece are male, a recent study into the position of women by Athens University has revealed. Equal opportunities in academia are purely theoretical and discrimination against women is firmly entrenched. Women represent a minority (27 percent) of teaching and research staff at universities, and the further up the academic ladder one looks, the rarer is their presence. The survey was conducted as part of Athens University’s program on gender and equality (THEFYLIS) and is based on data from all Greek universities for the 2003-2004 academic year (for the Democritus University of Thrace and the Agricultural University of Athens, figures from 2002-2003 and 2001-2002 respectively were used). Men far outnumber women in the highest posts (women held only 18.8 percent of the total number of professorships), but the greatest inequality is apparent in the highest administrative levels and decision-making university posts. All rectors of Greek universities are male, as are 88 percent of deputy rectors and 90 percent of deans. Similarly, 88 percent of department heads and 84.5 percent of deputy department heads are male. Further divisions are apparent in the different disciplines, as women tend to congregate in the humanities and social sciences and men in the natural and applied sciences. Female professors in the natural sciences comprise only 5 percent of the total, but make up 31 percent of humanities professors. The percentage of women rises the further down the academic ladder. For example, women make up 25 percent of the total number of lecturers in the natural sciences but 62 percent of the total number of lecturers in the humanities. Even in humanities departments, where there are a considerable number of women, vertical discrimination is conspicuous, with men in the position of power. In humanities departments, for instance, men comprise 69 percent of department heads, 65 percent of deputy departmental heads, 61 percent of division managers and 76 percent of laboratory managers. The same picture is true of the field of scientific research, according to research carried out by Laura Maratou-Alibrandi, chief researcher at the National Center for Social Research (EKKE), in 50 Greek research centers. Her study showed that no more than 32.5 percent of researchers and research assistants employed at any academic level in state research centers were women. And there were almost no women on the councils that administer and decide on the activities of the research centers at the General Secretariat for Research and Technology. These statistics were presented at a symposium held recently at Athens University on «the position of women in the academic community and gender policies at universities.» The purpose of the symposium was to initiate dialogue on drafting policy to promote women’s studies and gender studies in Greek universities, to formulate an action plan to ensure the equality of the sexes at universities and put an end to discrimination against women in academia. «It is indicative that women are elected as a kathygitis [the male noun for professor] and not as kathygitria [the female noun form],» Vassiliki Dendrinou, professor of English language and literature at Athens University and director of the THEFYLIS program, told Kathimerini. Call for quotas and gender studies If the inequality gap in academia is to be bridged, there must be «a more equal distribution of power in universities and research centers,» stated Dendrinou. «We have reached the stage where women think it is normal to have committees without a quota. If there is no training at universities about these issues, then the notion of inequality of the sexes will not change in society either.» Moreover, as she noted, formulating an equality policy will help combat the incidence of sexual harassment. «Studies show that the problem exists, but young women – and men, since there are such cases – have nowhere to go to complain because they are afraid the professor will fail them.» At the symposium, a joint committee was formed to present the Education Ministry with proposals to promote gender studies. «We are the only country that does not offer gender studies. Some courses were introduced last year as part of a specific program, which was very popular among students, but funding ends in 2005. We hope it will be extended,» said Dendrinou.