THE AXA RESEARCH LAB ON GENDER EQUALITY DIRECTED BY PAOLA PROFETA, STEMS FROM THE COLLABORATION BETWEEN BOCCONI AND AXA, TOGETHER WITH THE AXA RESEARCH FUND. ITS GOAL: TO PROMOTE STUDIES CAPABLE OF INFLUENCING THE POLICIES NEEDED TO ELIMINATE THE GENDER GAP AND TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL SET IN THE UNITED NATIONS' AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
According to the World Economic Forum, before the pandemic crisis, 31.4% of the average gender gap in the world in 2020 had yet to be closed.
In order to close this gap and achieve the goals of the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, empirical evidence indicates that public policies and increasing women's leadership are critical. Without substantial changes to current policies, gender equality will not be achieved for another 99.5 years.
In COVID-19 times, moreover, those paying for the effects of the economic crisis are primarily women, whose position has worsened relative to that of men. The most critical dimensions are economic opportunity and political empowerment, where only 58% and 23% of the gap has been closed, respectively.
This is the context that prompted Bocconi University, AXA Italia Insurance Group and AXA Research Fund to strengthen their partnership. They created the AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality
and entrusted its direction to Paola Profeta
, a scholar of Gender and public policy at Bocconi.
“Gender equality, in addition to being a moral issue, has a profound impact on the likelihood of a post-pandemic economic recovery,” comments Gianmario Verona
, Rector of Bocconi University. “Several studies have shown how women were disproportionately penalized during the pandemic, due to their fundamental role in various social institutions, including the family. That’s why we and AXA developed a shared commitment to deploy the best resources to study the topic with scientific method, the only path able to generate a positive impact, affect policies and, in the long term, also change the culture of our society.”
“The Lab stems from AXA's purpose ‘to act for human progress by protecting what matters,'” emphasizes Patrick Cohen
, CEO of AXA Italy Insurance Group. “In fact, there is no progress without gender equality. At AXA, for years we have been committed to helping women overcome professional and social obstacles, with policies that aim to reduce the pay and role gap and with services to support the family. For example, we have achieved parity in hiring and promotions and near parity on executives, with the goal of achieving equal pay at the Group level by 2023. Now, thanks to this project, we aim to trigger broader cultural change through scientific research, which will create the awareness necessary to foster equality. I am confident that the Lab's results will be decisive in influencing decision-making processes that will foster a more inclusive and sustainable society.”
The goal of the AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality is to investigate the role of public policy in promoting gender equality, as well as women's empowerment and leadership. "The approach of our research is based on a rigorous quantitative basis and a European horizon," explains Professor Profeta. “The AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality promotes studies intended to be useful for social and economic growth. We want to produce results capable of being translated into policy recommendations that can prompt the achievement of the fifth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, namely gender equality.”
Women's presence in STEM disciplines, related stereotypes and the share of women in positions with decision-making power in politics and business are the first projects launched by the AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality, a highly interdisciplinary laboratory that makes use of all the scientific expertise available at Bocconi in the field of social sciences.
“Although COVID-19 is not the focus of our interest,” Professor Profeta concludes, "it will be important to look at how it is affecting the division of roles in the family, the inclusion of women in the labor market, and the actual effectiveness of smart-working as an empowerment tool.”