Measuring Gender Equality in Universities

  • Tindara Addabbo
  • Claudia Canali
  • Gisella Facchinetti
  • Tommaso PirottiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 889)


The paper proposes a fuzzy expert system for gender equality evaluation in tertiary education that has been experimented in 6 European universities in Italy, Lithuania, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Ukraine within the EQUAL-IST Horizon 2020 project with the goal to design and implement Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) for IST Research Institutions. We propose a Fuzzy Expert System (FES), a cognitive model that, by replicating the expert way of learning and thinking, allows to formalize qualitative concepts and to reach a synthetic measure of the institution’s gender equality (ranging from 0 to 1 increasing with gender equality achievements), that can be then disentangled in different dimensions. The dimensions included in the model relate to gender equality in the structure of employment (academic and non academic) and in the governance of the universities, to the equal opportunity machinery and to the work-life balance policies promoted by the institutions. The rules and weights in the system are the results of a mixed strategy composed by gender equality experts and by a participatory approach that has been promoted within the EQUAL-IST project. The results show heterogeneity in the final index of gender equality and allow to detect the more critical areas where new policies should be implemented to achieve an improvement in gender equality. The value of the final gender equality index resulting from the application of the FES is then compared to the gender equality perceived by each institution involved in the project and will be used to improve also the awareness in gender gap in important dimensions in tertiary education setting.


Fuzzy expert Gender equality Fuzzy logic Tertiary education Work-life balance 



This paper has benefited from funding from the EQUAL-IST Horizon 2020 project: Gender Equality Plans for Information Sciences and Technology Research Institutions - Grant Agreement N. 710549.

We thank Dr Alessandro Grandi for having provided the data used to implement the system.


  1. 1.
    Addabbo, T., Canali, C., Facchinetti, G., Grandi, A., Pirotti, T.: Gender equality in tertiary education and research institutions: an evaluation proposal. In: Azevedo, A., Mesquita, A. (eds.) Proceedings of the International Conference on Gender Research, pp. 1–9. ISCAP, Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited, Reading, UK. ISBN: 978-1-911218-77-7, Porto, Portugal, 12–13 April 2018Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Addabbo, T., Facchinetti, G., Mastroleo, G.: Child well being and parents’ work: the evaluation of firm’s compliance to work-life balance. Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 18(4A), 18–26 (2009)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Addabbo, T., Facchinetti, G., Mastroleo, G., Lang, T.: “Pink seal” a certification for firms’ gender equity. In: WIRN, pp. 169–176 (2009)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Addabbo, T., Facchinetti, G., Mastroleo, G., Solinas, G.: A fuzzy way to measure quality of work in a multidimensional perspective. In: Advances in Information Processing and Protection, pp. 13–23. Springer (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Badaloni, S., Perini, L.: A Model for Building a Gender Equality Index for Academic Institutions. Padova University Press, Padova (2016)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Baker, M.: Choices or constraints? Family responsibilities, gender and academic career. J. Comp. Fam. Stud. 41(1), 1–18 (2010)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Baker, M.: Academic Careers and the Gender Gap. UBC Press (2012)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Baker, M.: Women graduates and the workplace: continuing challenges for academic women. Stud. High. Educ. 41(5), 887–900 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    EGERA. Accessed 17 May 2018
  10. 10.
    Facchinetti, G., Addabbo, T., Pirotti, T., Mastroleo, G.: A fuzzy approach to face the multidimensional aspects of well-being. In: 2012 Annual Meeting of the North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society (NAFIPS), pp. 1–6. IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Facchinetti, G., Mastroleo, G., Pirotti, T.: Quality of daily work & life index–a definition and its evaluation in a fuzzy way. In: Advances in Fuzzy Logic and Technology 2017, pp. 36–47. Springer (2017)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Facchinetti, G., Solinas, G., Pirotti, T.: Quality of work and elderly care-preliminary experiments. In: 2013 Joint IFSA World Congress and NAFIPS Annual Meeting (IFSA/NAFIPS), pp. 484–489. IEEE (2013)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    European Institute of Gender Equality, E.: Gender Equality in Academia and Research. GEAR tool. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (2016)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    European Institute of Gender Equality, E.: Integrating gender equality into academia and research organisations. Analytical paper. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (2016)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    European Institute of Gender Equality, E.: Gender Equality Index 2017: Measuring gender equality in the European Union 2005-2015 - Report. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (2017)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gender Net. Accessed 17 May 2018
  17. 17.
    Goltz, S.M., Hietapelto, A.B.: Translating the social watch gender equity index for university use. Chang. Mag. High. Learn. 45(3), 66–73 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Grabisch, M., Marichal, J.L., Mesiar, R., Pap, E.: Aggregation functions, volume 127 of encyclopedia of mathematics and its applications (2009)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kahraman, C.: Fuzzy Multi-Criteria Decision Making: Theory and Applications with Recent Developments, vol. 16. Springer, Berlin (2008)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kahraman, C., Onar, S.C., Oztaysi, B.: Fuzzy multicriteria decision-making: a literature review. Int. J. Comput. Intell. Syst. 8(4), 637–666 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kasabov, N.K.: Foundations of neural networks, fuzzy systems, and knowledge engineering. Marcel Alencar (1996)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Norwegian Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity. Accessed 17 May 2018
  23. 23.
    Mardani, A., Jusoh, A., MD Nor, K., Khalifah, Z., Zakwan, N., Valipour, A.: Multiple criteria decision-making techniques and their applications–a review of the literature from 2000 to 2014. Econ. Res. Ekonomska Istraživanja 28(1), 516–571 (2015)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Picardi, I.: La dimensione di genere nelle carriere accademiche: Riflessività e cambiamento nel progetto pilota GENOVATE@UNINA, vol. 2. FedOA-Federico II University Press (2017)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Piegat, A.: Fuzzy modeling and control (studies in fuzziness and soft computing). Physica, 742 (2001)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    for Research, E.C.D.G., Development, I.D.A.P., Internal, C.U.A., external communication: Open Innovation. Open Science. Open to the world. A vision for Europe. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (2016)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    for Research, E.C.D.G., Innovation, D.B..O.I., Open Science, U.B.S.w., for Society: She figures 2015. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (2016)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ruest-Archambault, E., von Tunzelmann, N., Iammarino, S., Jagger, N., Miller, L., Kutlaca, D., Semencenko, S., Popvic-Pantic, S., Mosurovic, M.: Benchmarking Policy Measures for Gender Equality on Science. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities of the European Communities (2008)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Sangiuliano, M., Grandi, A.: EQUAL-IST project deliverable D2.5 gender equality assessment report (2017)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Von Altrock, C.: Fuzzy Logic and Neurofuzzy Applications in Business and Finance. Prentice-Hall Inc., Upper Saddle River (1996)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tindara Addabbo
    • 1
  • Claudia Canali
    • 2
  • Gisella Facchinetti
    • 3
  • Tommaso Pirotti
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Economics Marco BiagiUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Engineering Enzo FerrariUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  3. 3.Economics DepartmentUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

Personalised recommendations