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Responsibility of senior and middle management (top-down)

Top down implementation of Gender Mainstreaming

The management levels of organisations are confronted with particular challenges with regard to the implementation of cross-sectional goals (such as orientation of the public, environmental protection and gender equality). Cross-sectional goals are frequently implemented according to the top-down principle, i.e. from top to bottom of the organisation. Suggestions, for example for the planning and development of conceptions, for a guiding principle or for goals of the organisation, etc., originate at the senior level of management and are then passed down the line.

It is thereby understood to be a management task for superiors to influence their areas of responsibilities comprehensively (i.e. in setting topics, organisation and functions) to the effect that organisational goals are achieved in the best possible way. At the same time, they have to represent their divisions internally and externally in terms of gender equality policy objectives. The management level thus bears the responsibility for the desired outcome of the achievement of goals. For this task, it requires steering and management information derived from specialist information and proposals for action.

If it is intended to achieve the cross-sectional goal of “gender equality” by means of the implementation of Gender Mainstreaming (GM), the organisation as a whole will have to be oriented to gender equality. This includes primarily setting gender equality as an organisational goal and implementing this objective e.g. by integrating GM into task planning and into the whole orientation of policy and strategy. Finally, the issue of gender equality must be addressed time and again in all specialist topics, and employees at all levels should be motivated to come to terms with and integrate gender equality as a specialist competence.

Changes which are highly demanding at specialist level and which have a direct impact on the working organisation cannot be implemented without management support. This is especially true of gender equality policy strategies, which often encounter opposition from individual people. This should be countered with active measures for ensuring acceptance.

It is important for GM as a top-down process to distinguish between the (senior) leadership (Minister or Secretary of State) and other levels of management (heads of department at various levels), since there can be differences in the tasks involved in implementing GM.

The top management must in the first place represent gender equality as an organisational goal internally and externally and define GM as a strategy for its realisation. What is needed for this internally is
  • credibility through visible support for the implementation of GM
  • distribution of necessary financial, time and staffing resources
  • demanding results such as an implementation concept or the integration of taking into account of gender equality in important projects.
The implementation of GM can be promoted by senior management commitment, such as, internally, participation in and initiation of training courses and, externally, public statements of specific aspects of gender equality.

Credibility is also shown in implementation of an orientation towards gender equality as an element of good management.

On the basis of instructions from senior management, it is a middle management task to undertake precise planning for the creation of framework conditions for the implementation of GM. Thus,
  • resources that have been provided should be allocated
  • training courses should be organised
  • new implementation procedures should be developed, and/or ways should be found to integrate an orientation to gender equality into existing procedures.
This should also be supported by external consultation.
This planning must include allocation of competencies and responsibility and a review of existing organisational structures. When competencies are being allocated, the role of equal opportunity commissioners in the implementation of GM should be clarified.
It is therefore a middle management task to coordinate the implementation of GM by
As well as planning, specialist middle management plays an important part in the top-down implementation of GM. The goal here is to mobilise skilled staff by communicating gender equality goals for specialist areas in a transparent way and routinely integrating gender equality issues. This can be done, for example, by means of work agreements (e.g. agreements of goals) or by means of intensive internal communication. For sustained implementation, the specialist GM requirements must also be communicated and corresponding results (e.g. in reports) later demanded.

Various elements may be used in the internal communication of specialist gender equality goals:
  • organisation of specific training courses
  • provision in the intranet of information on GM as a strategy, on its planned implementation in the organisation and on specialist gender perspectives
  • addressing the issue in official meetings
  • addressing the issue in interviews with staff.
Such knowledge management offers the possibility of achieving a wide impact.

As well as in specialist area middle management, it is also necessary to make gender equality goals and the implementation of GM credible as a requirement in the area of staff development. Gender competence must be stated here to be a specialist skill and promoted and acknowledged as such. In many organisations, there are employees who have been committed to gender equality for many years and have therefore acquired the necessary specialist competences. It is important and fruitful for the implementation of GM that middle management actively integrate these employees and acknowledge and utilise their existing specialist knowledge of gender equality. To do this, it is necessary to localise such specialist skills in the new strategy in gender equality policy, Gender Mainstreaming, and to support their integration by means of personally-credible input.

Frequently, however, many of the elements of top-down implementation oriented to gender equality outlined here are not present and have to be activated and required by bottom-up. This may be the case if the award of research projects on matters of gender equality policy is concerned or if more resources of time are to be allocated to implementation, such as additional training courses. In this case, it is a matter of convincing senior management of the necessity of paying attention to the cross-sectional goal of “gender equality”, since bottom-up alone will not be enough in the long run.

If senior management does not support the implementation of GM and if gender equality is not credibly established as an goal of the organisation, then increased networking and activation of gender competence at worker level by means of bottom-up processes will be needed.

You can also download this text as a printer-friendly pdf document [in German].

Further reading

Baer, Susanne / Kletzing, Uta: Gleichstellungspolitische Strategien - zur Debatte um Gender Mainstreaming, in: Zeitschrift für Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung, Heft 1/2005, pp. 3 – 20.

Jung, Dörte: Gender Mainstreaming als Lernprozess. Methodische Voraussetzungen zur nachhaltigen Umsetzung, in: Jung, Dörte / Krannich, Margret (eds.): Die Praxis des Gender Mainstreaming auf dem Prüfstand. Stärken und Schwächen der nationalen Umsetzungspraxis, Frankfurt a.M.: Wolke Verlag Hofheim, 2005, pp. 11-21

Baer, Susanne / Enders-Dragässer, Uta / Kuhl, Mara / Kreß, Brigitta / Sellach, Brigitte: Wissensnetz Gender Mainstreaming für die Bundesverwaltung [German link], Frankfurt am Main und Berlin, Dezember 2003.

Woodward, Alison E.: Gender Mainstreaming als Instrument zur Innovation. In: Meuser, Michael / Neusüß, Claudia (eds.) Gender Mainstreaming. Konzepte – Handlungsfelder – Instrumente, Bonn, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2004, pp. 86 – 102.
erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07