Home>Gender equality 2023: spotlight on 5 student projects


Gender equality 2023: spotlight on 5 student projects

Article originally published on the Sciences Po website and written by the Sciences Po editorial team.

Each year, Sciences Po's Gender Equality and Public Policy Certificate offers first-year Masters students from the School of Public Affairs and the School of International Affairs (PSIA) a specialisation in this field. Run by the School of Public Affairs and the Programme de recherche et d'enseignement des savoirs sur le genre (PRESAGE), the Certificate includes lectures by professionals and researchers specialising in equality policies in the autumn. This first semester of theory is complemented by a practical approach, with group work in the spring semester on concrete projects proposed by companies, public institutions or associations. 

Focus on the 2023 cohort, who worked in five groups on themes as varied as education, the environment and social networks, under the attentive and supportive guidance of Hélène Périvier, economist at the Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques (OFCE) and director of PRESAGE, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, former Minister for Women's Rights and then Education, currently director of the NGO ONE for France, and Violette Toye, programme coordinator.

Hélène Périvier and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem © DR


The department of Hélène Bidard, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of gender equality, welcomed one of the groups of students to find out how difficult it is for schools to set up the three annual sessions on sexual and affective education. Their mission was not an easy one, and they were able to see for themselves the sensitivity of some of the data, with a large number of institutions refusing to provide them with information or to meet with them. After a certain amount of methodological trial and error, the group gained autonomy and decided to draw up a report and a map of the associations that could run the sessions, while noting the difficulties associated with the subject, including the cost of training, the choice of speakers, complaints from some parents, etc. 

For the group that worked with the Universités & Réfugié-e-s (UniR) association, the task was even more tangible: to rework the training module offered to refugee and new immigrant women to help them choose their path in higher education in France. The challenge for the five students was to come up with a format that would be suitable for a wide range of audiences, and that would be dynamic without losing any of the theoretical input needed to be effective. They created a fun teaching aid, which is put into practice by the association, as well as a video to convey the stories of the women they met. Their experience has created a strong bond between the students and also with the association, to which they have all committed to running workshops over the coming year.

One group was asked to take part in a research project on women's access to the senior civil service, the ÉGALE survey conducted by OFCE and directed by Hélène Périvier and Maxime Parodi. What prompted the survey? The high attrition rate among women - despite the fact that they are in the majority at Sciences Po - as soon as they enter the School of Public Affairs, followed by preparation for the administrative entrance exams and finally the INSP (formerly ENA) entrance exam. Statistical analysis has shown that women, especially those from poorer backgrounds, do less well in the written exams. The Certificate students worked with the OFCE team on the more complex process of designing, validating and then distributing a research questionnaire sent to students at the School of Public Affairs. Although the results have not yet been analysed, a few qualitative elements allow the group to assume that the loss of female students can be explained by a strategy of diversifying competitions (for financial and self-confidence reasons) which puts them at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts who concentrate on the INSP competition.


The RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation, which funds a number of associations including some for women and the environment, opened its doors to a group of female students and gave them carte blanche to create a communication campaign to show that ecofeminism affects all areas of life... Although it wasn't easy to come up with an advocacy campaign aimed at the general public and decision-makers, the students were able to come into contact with a large number of associations, which enabled them to put faces to the issues and move beyond the theoretical framework of the first semester. The lectures that really resonated with their experience in the field were those on feminism in business and feminist diplomacy, which involves managing situations where lowering militant demands in discourse can help raise more funds to finance concrete projects.

The fifth group of students helped the Haut conseil à l'égalité entre les femmes et les hommes (HCEfh) by carrying out a statistical analysis of the representation of women on social networks, with the support of the Chair for Women's Employment and Entrepreneurship at Sciences Po. The nine young women analysed the ten most liked posts/videos of the ten biggest influencers on Instagram, TikTok and Youtube (excluding musicians on Youtube and football players on Instagram). They indexed no less than one hundred pieces of content per platform using a dense analysis grid. Their findings were unanimous: women are invisible, excluded from the most viewed and shared content. They also pointed to the omnipresence of gender stereotypes, the normalization of violence, and comments with sexual or homophobic connotations. This lengthy, closely supervised indexing exercise was welcomed by the High Council, which will publish a report on it in October and then incorporate it into its report on digital content, which could lead to requests for regulation of digital platforms.

The entire class of the 2023 Gender Equality and Public Policy Certificate spoke of the personal contribution of this experience - the human encounters that took place - but also its professional benefits, in particular through the acquisition of methodological skills. The supervisory team has set itself the objective for the following year of equipping the students even further with a statistical analysis perspective.

Hélène Périvier, economist at OFCE and director of PRESAGE, says: "The Certificate is evolving year on year, and we're delighted to see how far we've already come, so we'll be continuing to improve the quality of this innovative course."

See you next year and congratulations to the 2023 cohort! 


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