• Diversity and Gender Equality

Gender Equality at ICFO

Part of ICFO’s strength lies in the diversity of perspectives and contributions of all its members. Great care is taken to nurture optimal conditions within the institute that provide ICFOnians with an ambiance conducive to world-class research.

With respect to Gender Equality:

  • ICFO is committed to promoting and ensuring a working environment where individuals are treated with respect, equality and courtesy.
  • ICFO will not tolerate any type of conduct or behavior considered harassment or bullying.

A Gender Equality Committee is in place at ICFO with the mandate to discuss initiatives raised by the ICFO community on the topic, design a yearly action plan with actions and initiatives in this scope, follow-up and evaluate completed activities, raise awareness of the topic within ICFO, and act as mediation body for appeals and conflicts.

Initiatives are raised in the following areas:

  • Recruiting

    All ICFO Job offers and fellowships encourage applications based on diversity. ICFO has different mechanisms in place to ensure equal opportunities during the selection process, including ensuring a gender balance in all committees involved in the recruitment process.

    ICFO is aware of the importance of encouraging diversity and increasing the participation of women in Science in order to enhance innovation, and the creativity and excellence of our research efforts. To that end, ICFO has launched specific fellowships for women.

    • The María Yzuel Fellowships aims at attracting outstanding female students to conduct a Research Internship or Master Thesis in an ICFO research group. By offering young females students the possibility to explore science in a stimulating and supportive environment, these felllowships aim to attract, retain and promote female talent towards future research careers in the photonic sciences.
    • ICFO participates in the “Science By Women” program of “The Women for Africa Foundation” with the aim of promoting the leadership of African women in research and technology transfer, and strengthening the research capacity of research centers in their countries of origin.
  • Career Development and Networking

    Different initiatives are in place at ICFO that aim to empower women and provide them with useful skills and resources. The goal of these events is to increase the visibility of female researchers at the institute, provide access to inspiring role models, create a discussion forum on specific topics of interest, and provide an informal space for networking.

    Examples of initiatives in this field are the “WiS Lunches”, a series of seminars and lunches that combine speakers from the ICFO community and invited speakers from around the world. Likewise in order to raise awareness on the topic, ICFO annually celebrates “Women in Science Month” from February 11th (International Day of Women and Girls in Science) to March 8th (International Women’s Day). Throughout this month, ICFOnians highlight the significance of women’s contributions to the scientific enterprise, celebrating a series of talks, activities and debates that target all ICFOnians - because we ALL benefit by supporting women in science.

  • Personal Policies and Benefits

    ICFO does not tolerate any type of conduct or behavior considered harassment or bullying and has a clear defined policy against harassment.

    Acknowledging additional difficulties involved for researchers who come from abroad, in particular for non-Spanish/Catalan speakers, ICFO provides extensive relocation support to all newcomers at the institute with personalized assistance on accommodation search, official visa procedures, as well as resolution of other personal issues that may arise. We pay special attention to the additional needs of families, for example in enrolling children in childcare or schools, to plan for a smooth arrival for all.

    People with employment contracts or PhD fellowships are included within the Spanish Social Security system, which provides extensive public health care coverage as well as economic coverage in the terms specified in the applicable law during illness periods and also after maternity (currently 16 weeks for mothers) and paternity (currently five weeks for fathers). Direct family members also living in Spain who are not employed themselves can also be included as beneficiaries for medical assistance.

    There are two facilities (one public & one private) within easy walking distance from ICFO that provide day-care for infants from 3-months to 3-years of age, as well as nearby public and private schools (from the age of 3). These usually cover the whole working day from 9:00 to 16:30 and offer the possibility of extended after-hours programs.

    ICFO is committed to facilitating work-life balance through specific resources including for example a free daily bus BCN-ICFO-BCN. ICFO provides designated space for mothers that are breastfeeding.

  • Health and Safety

    ICFO has an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) based on the BS OHSAS 18001:2007 certification program. A thorough and personalized safety plan for women during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is provided with the aim of ensuring the safety of the women and the fetus while allowing them to continue with their assigned projects and tasks.

  • Corporate Communications

    ICFO has ambitious goals to communicate the frontier research activities and the societal impact of this research to local and international communities. While doing this, special care is taken to transmit an unbiased image, give visibility to the achievements of women scientists and promote female role models.

  • Outreach

    Outreach is one of the priority missions at ICFO, which has a wide range of activities aimed at promoting the potential, pervasiveness and ubiquity of the science and technology of light and its industrial applications. Special attention is paid to include the gender dimension in the design and implementation of the activities as well as in targeting participation. ICFO is always looking to transmit an unbiased image, to give visibility to the achievements of female scientists and to promote female role models.

    This is done both locally and internationally. ICFO is the founder and coordinator of the ECOP (European Centers for Outreach in Photonics), which brings together prominent research centers throughout Europe especially active in the dissemination of photonics and who collaborate in various programs financed by the EU. As part of this network, ICFO has a very active role in the Gender Committee, created to support the alliance’s initiatives in their promotion of girls and women in science and technology. In this context, it is interesting to highlight ICFO’s involvement in the gender equality actions of the European Quantum Flagship initiative as well as in specific projects such as PHABLABS 4.0.