One target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to mainstream education for sustainable development, including the implementation of practices and policy to promote gender equality, human rights and women’s empowerment in academia.
In Spain, the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya – UOC), has aligned 41.7% of research projects with SDG 5, gender equality. At the university, 50.6% of course instructors and tutors are women, which is a 5.1% increase from five years ago according to UOC annual statistics.
The Equality Plan 2020-2024 is the fourth plan of its kind to have been implemented by the University since the creation of its Gender Equality Unit, of which the University library is an advisory member. The Unit’s objectives are to ensure all university courses use resources and content free of gender bias, to share generated knowledge with the entire community and to guarantee good governance of gender equity at the University.
The Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency issues guidelines for including the gender perspective in university teaching and implementing the Gender Equality Plan, which involves the entire academic community. This guideline assigns the UOC Library an important role in fostering gender equality and non-discrimination at the University. Through its policies and services, the UOC Library actively supports the university to achieve equality targets for students, researchers, faculty and staff.
A gender diagnosis conducted in 2018 confirmed that the University shows improvement from 2014, although more work is needed to achieve gender equity targets. To support this, the UOC Library is implementing a range of actions.
To ensure that all students acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to promote sustainable development, the UOC Library has created guides for applying the gender perspective to a variety of study areas, such as speech therapy, cities and urbanism, gamification and games, and Catalan culture. And to ensure that gender equity and human rights are part of all educational materials, the UOC Library is co-developing a learning resources guide for curriculum authors.
In addition to providing resources, the UOC Library has been active in participating in institutional and international campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Women Writers Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
To make women’s expertise more visible in research and teaching, the UOC Library helped to adapt and update the citation guidelines used within the University. Writers are now advised to include authors’ full names in bibliographic references, especially for international citation styles, such as the APA in which only the initials are usually given.
In 2019, the UOC Library created the position of gender perspective manager, who is responsible for analysing the library’s current status against the sustainable development targets for gender equality and for making proposals for improvements.
Through the library service called “Ask a librarian” students can offer suggestions and ask questions about learning resources. The UOC Library has established an internal policy with procedures for processing and progressing student complaints about learning resources with gender bias.
These are just some of the ongoing actions the UOC Library has taken to support the university goals of addressing gender inequality challenges and integrating the gender perspective throughout the university.