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The EPO’s “Gender Awareness Report”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boy meets Girl

Summary: There’s a new document with remarks by the EPO’s staff representatives and it concerns opportunities for women at the EPO — a longstanding issue

The Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO has just circulated a document alluded to in another document, as noted here yesterday (António Campinos acting like Benoît Battistelli). The subject in question is sensitive and divisive, so we’re reproducing it below without further commentary.

It’s basically about something called “Gender Awareness Report” and an update on what it means to EPO staff. It’s mostly about the role of women in the Office and it doesn’t seem overly political.

“In 2018,” the CSC wrote, “the administration published a document titled “Gender Awareness Report” reflecting the data until 2017. Since then, management has put several measures in place. We believe that it is the right moment to evaluate the impact of these measures and to have an overview of the present situation as well as an evaluation of the previous policies. Therefore, we request an update of the “Gender Awareness report” complemented with an in-depth study on “Equality in career”.

Here is the full letter, sent to EPO staff and signed collectively (without names):


Diversity & Inclusion: an update

Dear Colleagues,

Staff Representatives have been working in the Working Group Diversity & Inclusion (WG D&I) together with the administration and a group of consultants, in order to elaborate a yearly plan. One of the points considered by our group as very relevant and fundamental is the collection of reliable data on which to base the measures to be taken to enhance diversity & inclusion.

In 2018, the administration published a document titled “Gender Awareness Report” reflecting the data until to 2017. The document contained several indicators, which were very interesting to analyse.

Since then, management has put several measures1 in place. We believe that it is the right moment to evaluate the impact of these measures and to have an overview of the present situation as well as an evaluation of the previous policies. Therefore, we request an update of the “Gender Awareness report” complemented with an in-depth study on “Equality in career”, as discussed during the WG last few meetings.

It is our belief that only with correct data, through a “Gender audit”, it is possible to assess the present gender equality situation in our Office. A “Gender audit” goes beyond the naked numbers statistics, it also focusses in “quality audits” which are essentially “social audits”. These audits help organisations identify and understand gender patterns within their composition, structures, processes, organisational culture and management of human resources, and in the design and delivery of policies.2

1 e.g. the LEAD mentoring programme
2 European Institute for Gender Equality

During our meeting with him on 16 November 2021, the President agreed that an update and further studies on gender equality should be a main concern at the EPO. In fact, this is in line with the mainstream concern around the world, which is evident from the words of two international leaders:

“The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Gender equality is a core principle of the European Union, but it is not yet a reality. In business, politics and society as a whole, we can only reach our full potential if we use all of our talent and diversity. Using only half of the population, half of the ideas or half of the energy is not good enough. With the Gender Equality Strategy, we are pushing for more and faster progress to promote equality between men and women.”3

“Power today in the world is still essentially concentrated on men, and with a male dominated culture. And power is usually not given, power is taken. So we need women to fully fight for their rights and we need the men that understand that only with full gender equality, the world will improve and the problems will be solved. We need those men to engage effectively”.4 António Guterres – Secretary General of the United Nations.

We appreciate that the President gave a favourable opinion on our request and confirmed that the EPO has the same understanding of Gender Equality as other major organisations. The Central Staff Committee

3 Gender equality strategy : Striving for a Union of equality. 5 March 2020.
4 https://www.facebook.com/UN.News.Centre/videos/interview-with-the-un-secretary-general-ant%C3%B3nio-

Many people — irrespective of gender — have strong views on the matter, but we’d rather keep this post limited to the message above.

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