European Women Rectors Association (EWORA) is a full-fledged International Non-Profit association established in Brussels under Belgian Law in December 2015 to promote the role of women in leadership positions in the academic sector and to advocate gender equality in higher education and research at European and international scales. EWORA is the continuation of European Women Rectors Platform (EWRP), which has been active since 2008 in organizing biennial European Women Rectors Conferences.
Istanbul Technical University took part in a FP6 project titled “UNICAFE” that was funded by EC between the years 2006-2008. The dissemination conference of UNICAFE was organized by the ITU team in 2008. As many findings of UNICAFE project pointed the importance of leadership for achieving gender equality in HE institutions the first conference for European women rectors was organized as a pre-conference meeting of the UNICAFE dissemination conference in 2008 in Istanbul. Since then biennial conferences organized and hosted by Istanbul Technical University and European Women Rectors Platform (EWRP) was formed in 2010. These Biennial Conferences that are entitled “Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Women Rectors Across Europe” provided the opportunity for women rectors and vice rectors to share their experiences as academic leaders. They also have brought together an interdisciplinary group of women academic leaders who share a commitment to foster new approaches in order to increase the number of women academic leaders around the world. The participants of these conferences also focused on new ideas to improve the conditions for women academics to remove the barriers for horizontal and vertical segregation.
Since Women academics’ under-representation at top levels of administration is still among the most important issues in higher education, the series of Women Rectos Conferences intended to examine the position and the experiences of women in higher educational administration and discuss the strategies that have been used to improve the inclusion of women at this level. The conferences further aimed at achieving these objectives through analysis and comparison of different international practices and policies. With resolving to transform this institutional potential to reality, EWORA is founded with the aim of addressing gender-based structural inequality, especially with regard to academic leadership.
After the fourth conference, which was organized under the patronage of UNESCO, a set of recommendations, based on the discussions during the conference has been developed. Participants who are or have been leaders in academic institutions have crafted and designed recommendations on the bases of their career experiences as well as the contributions of the experts. This document, which is called as “Istanbul Recommendations”, provides recommendations in 3 main titles, which are “Recommendations for Academic Leaders / Leadership”, “Recommendations for National Authorities” and Recommendations for Supra-National Organizations. As EWRP have started to foster collaboration and exchange of information among women decision makers of higher education, all of these accumulated engagements necessitated to expand the existing knowledge and network by establishing a legal entity. Within this regard, EWORA will continue to take initiatives and create new approaches for women ́s equal representation at decision making levels of higher education and research.
The founding Board Members are Carmen Fenoll, Kristín Ingólfsdóttir, Helena Nazare, Ursula Nelles, Gulsun Saglamer (President), Christina Ullenius and Krista Varantola.