Why Gender matters in Plant Pathology and beyond.

Special Session offered by Gender-SMART

Title: Why Gender matters in Plant Pathology and beyond..

Date: Tuesday, 05 April 2022

Time: 11:00 – 13:15

Duration: 2hrs and 15 minutes

Participation Fee: €20.00 online and physical presence for people who are not registered participants to the Conference but wish to attend this Session.


Registration will be done through www.easyconferences.org/mpu2022/register

Conference participants will need to select the special session with no fee at the step “Satellite Events” of the registration procedure.

Non-conference participants will need to follow the steps of the registration procedure (click here for more info) and select the special session with the cost of 20€ at the step “Satellite Events”. 


Gender equality has been recognized as a driver for sustainable development. Why research and professional development practices ignore such an important factor?

This special session on gender equality aims to provide practical examples on the integration of gender in research and teaching with particular focus to plant health and phytopathology. Through interactive activities, the session also aims to offer its participants an opportunity to gain an insight into the experience of stakeholders of the academia and industry.

Are you interested to learn how gender equality may positively influence research excellence as well as your professional development? Join this session for a fusion of practical tools, insight experiences and tips for professional development towards a gender inclusive environment.


11:00 – 11:30:

Margreet van der Burg – Keynote Speaker

Senior Lecturer/Researcher – Wageningen University

“Gender in plant health and phytopathology: exploring the research agenda”

 Abstract: This presentation will take the audience on a short journey to explore gender into the plant pathology research agenda. With some historical and contemporary examples it will be illustrated how women differently from men are connected to plant health and pathology and its research. It ends with showing windows of opportunity what research including gender can help dealing with the current challenges the field faces.

Bio: She examines food, agricultural and rural research and development from a gender perspective. She takes in the gender dimension as also intersecting with other social dimensions. Her work includes gender and the development of agricultural educational and knowledge systems, family farming, agriculture oriented organisations, as well as rural, agricultural and food iconography and heritage. She expanded her work from the Netherlands to the European/western level, and from 2000s onwards to the global level, both historical and contemporary. Within her position at Wageningen, in 2006 she also served as Rural Gender Studies Guest Professor in the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Professoriate Program from German Lower Saxony, at the Institute for Rural Development, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Goettingen, Germany. 10 years later she was visiting scholar with Carolyn Sachs, Professor in Rural Sociology and Women’s Studies at PennState University USA.

Currently, she is daily project leader of the EU Horizon 2020 Gender-SMART project for her institution, and within the project consortium she is work package leader for the integration of gender into education, research and funding. Through the years, she engaged in many professional and outreach activities such as TV documentaries, travelling exhibitions, and conferences as well as in building professional networks and organisations.

11:30 – 11:35: Q&A
11:35 – 11:55:

Panayiota Polykarpou

Gender Expert & Research Fellow – Cyprus University of Technology

“How gender equality, innovation and excellence in research are highly correlated? Practices, Tools & Methods”

Abstract: How gender equality, innovation and excellence in research are highly correlated? Did you know that the quality and accountability of research in any field is affected negatively when sex and gender are not taken into account? The gender dimension is an essential aspect of research excellence as it increases the societal relevance of the knowledge produced, as well as technologies and innovations. The project Gender-SMART (Horizon 2020) focuses in achieving gender equality in Research Performing and Research Funding Organizations operating in the agricultural and life sciences research field by implementing Gender Equality Plan in each partner institution and integrating the gender dimension in the culture, career support measures, decision making and in funding, research and teaching. Specifically, the inclusion of the gender dimension in funding, research and teaching is a dynamic concept when developing concepts and theories, formulating research questions, collecting and analysing data and educating the next generation of scientists. How and why it is important to integrate the gender dimension in research and academic institutions, as well as which practices, tools and methods are appropriate to achieve institutional change for gender equality will be presented from the experiences acquired from leading agricultural related academic institutions in Europe.

11:55 – 12:00: Q&A
12:00 – 12:20:

Maria Angeli

Sociologist & Gender Expert – Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies

“Better together: Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace”

 Abstract: This presentation will explain why we are ‘better together’ focusing on the benefits of gender inclusion in the workplace, looking at how inclusivity enhances prosperity not only on a personal, but also on an organizational level. How does inclusivity enhance resourcefulness and problem solving? How does it contribute to pleasant, fair and productive working environments?

Work places around the world are far from being gender balanced and diverse. Gender segregation is a dominant phenomenon by which certain sectors or fields witness a high concentration of one gender over another. Horizontal segregation refers to the higher concentration of women or men in certain professions or sectors of economic activity. Vertical segregation, or the ‘glass ceiling’, refers to the imbalance in representation of one gender over another in the hierarchy of occupations or sectors. Men in the EU enjoy higher rates of employment, higher salaries, and are over-represented in leadership positions.  Considering that women university graduates outnumber men across EU countries by a rate of 43.9% compared to 23.4%, why does this segregation persist? This presentation will delve into the root causes of segregation and the gender gap in employment. 

Although the concept of inclusivity has existed for several decades, efforts at the EU, national and organizational levels often only touch upon the surface of the issue. In this presentation we will look at the real meaning of inclusiveness addressing questions such as: how do we get from equality to equity? How do we ensure that all voices are heard? We will look at examples of strategic planning that take into account the needs of employees as a whole, transforming policies from being gender blind to being gender inclusive. Ultimately, this presentation will argue that inclusivity helps employees thrive in ways that are mutually beneficial for themselves and their institutions.

12:20 – 12:25: Q&A
12:25 – 13:15:

Round table discussion

“What are the benefits of diversity and equal representation of genders in academia and industry? Challenges and good practices’’.

This panel is coming together to exchange the experiences of the panelists when it comes to diversity in the workplace in academia and industry, as well as offer the audience an opportunity to hear more about the personal experiences of panelists on how and whether diversity and inclusion leads to better results in research, as well as in business.


Blanca Landa

Bio: Dr Landa is a Research Scientist in Plant Pathology at the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Dr Landa has devoted most of her career to: i) the study of the biological quality and phytosanitary status of soils and the environmental and agronomic practices influencing it; ii) soil suppressiveness to soilborne plant pathogens; iii) isolation and selection of microbial antagonists to control plant pathogens and iv) to the study of the plant microbiome and its role in modulating host response to xylem-inhabiting wilting pathogens. In the last years, her research is focused on the study of the biology and epidemiology of the main Vascular diseases of olive (Verticillium dahliae, Xylella fastidiosa) and the development of diagnostic tools and management methods to fight them.

Anna Maria D’Onghia

Bio: Dr D’Onghia serves as Head of the Knowledge Unit on Precision Crop Protection, she is the Scientific Coordinator of the CIHEAM International Master of Science on ‘Precision IPM of fruit and vegetable crops’, the Coordinator of the CIHEAM Bari National Accredited Laboratory for official diagnostic analyses of harmful plant pathogens and the Head of the CIHEAM Bari Center for the production and conservation of pathogen-free accessions of fruit tree species. She has 30 years of experience in education and training, applied research and international cooperation in Integrated Pest management, Certification of plant propagating materials and Plant quarantine, Pest surveillance, monitoring, detection, characterization, epidemiology and control. She represents CIHEAM as a board member of several international organizations such as the Mediterranean Phytopatological Union (MPU), EUPHRESCO (EU PHytosanitary RESearch COordination and funding), she is a member of the IPPC/FAO Scientific Committee of the International Year of Plant Health 2020 (IYPH2020).

Khaled Makkouk

Bio: Dr Makkouk is a founding member and has served as Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President and President of the Arab Society of Plant Protection (ASPP). Currently he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Arab Journal of Plant Protection published by ASPP and as Vice-President of the International Society of Plant Pathology. He has previously served as member, board member, Vice-President and President of the Mediterranean Phytopathological Union (MPU). Dr. Makkouk played a leadership role within national, regional and international scientific communities serving as chair or member of international professional scientific groups such as the Special Projects Committee of the International Society of Plant Pathology, the Mediterranean Fruit Improvement Council Steering Committee, the Plant Virus Sub-committee of the International Committee for Taxonomy of Viruses, and the International Working Group on Legume Viruses.

Maria Kaiafa

Bio: Maria Kaiafa is based in Belgium and is working as a Regulatory & Development Engineer at Bi-PA nv. She is responsible for the development and worldwide registration of biological plant protection products with focus on microbial strains and natural substances such as plant extracts. Before joining Bi-PA nv, she worked for the Policy Unit of IFOAM Organics Europe where she did advocacy work at EU level with focus on the topics of organic plant breeding and biodiversity preservation. She holds an MSci degree in agronomy from the Agricultural University of Athens and her studies were focused in crop science and plant protection.

Panayiota Polykarpou (Moderator)

Bio: Panayiota Polykarpou holds a degree in Business and Public Administration from the University of Cyprus. After her graduation, she was nominated as one of the European Leaders representing Cyprus to the United States as the recipient of the S.U.S.I Program Scholarship that focused on Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Her interests focus on gender and equality, diversity and inclusion.  She co-founded the first digital awareness campaign for gender equality in Cyprus called “Thkio Logia” and co-authored the book “A book about equality – A few words for a big change”. She also co-founded the “Be an Ally Foundation”, which aims to promote and encourage the mobilization of the civil society through awareness, as well as a new initiative in Cyprus called “Girls in STEAM Academy”, which aims to inspire the next generation of women leaders in STEAM fields. Panayiota is currently a Research Fellow/ Gender Expert at the Cyprus University of Technology and is the Project Manager of Gender-SMART, a Horizon Project that aims to transform the university into a gender-friendly organisation.