Glossary of terms

Given that language not only reflects stereotypical beliefs but also affects recipients cognition and behavior, the use of expressions consistent with gender stereotypes contributes to transmission and reinforcement of such beliefs and can produce actual discrimination against women. In this project, we aim to reduce the use of expressions and approaches that discriminate against women in the academic environment. We, therefore, facilitate here the access to some tools made available by other projects or institutions and share  definitions and understandings of commonly used related  terms and expressions.


Links to resources:



Glossary and Thesaurus of EIGE - 

The Glossary and Thesaurus of EIGE (The European Institute for Gender Equality) is a specialised terminology tool focusing on the area of gender equality. It has a collection of terms based on 92 sources from the European Union, Council of Europe and United Nations normative and policy documents, studies, reports and scientific articles. The glossary contains over 400 terms in English with their definitions and sources.

Below are some terms chosen from the Glossary and Thesaurus of EIGE 


Gender Equality – 

Definition: Equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. 

Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born female or male. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, thereby recognising the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centred development.

Gender Equity – 

Definition: Provision of fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men.

The concept recognises that women and men have different needs and power and that these differences should be identified and addressed in a manner that rectifies the imbalances between the sexes. This may include equal treatment, or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.
Though often used interchangeably, equality and equity are two very distinct concepts. While international human rights treaties refer to ‘equality’, in other sectors the term ‘equity’ is often used. The term ‘gender equity’ has sometimes been used in a way that perpetuates stereotypes about women’s role in society, suggesting that women should be treated ‘fairly’ in accordance with the roles that they carry out. This understanding risks perpetuating unequal gender relations and solidifying gender stereotypes that are detrimental to women. Therefore the term should be used with caution to ensure it is not masking a reluctance to speak more openly about discrimination and inequality.

Work-life Balance – 

Definition: Achieving balance between not only domestic tasks and caring for dependent relatives, but also extracurricular responsibilities or other important life priorities.

Work arrangements should be sufficiently flexible to enable workers of both sexes to undertake lifelong learning activities and activities related to their further professional and personal development, not necessarily directly related to the worker’s job.
Issues related to the improvement of career opportunities, lifelong learning and other personal and professional development activities are considered to be secondary to the objective of promoting the more equal sharing between women and men of responsibilities in the family and household, as well as in the workplace.

Organisational Culture – 

Definition: Commonly accepted values and behaviours within an organisation, such as the hours that are worked, the jokes that are considered appropriate and the manner in which colleagues are addressed.

All of these feed into collective, unspoken judgement as to what is relevant, acceptable and/or important within an organisation.
The core elements of organisational culture are implicit; they are practised in daily routines, give a common direction to the members of an organisation, and are the result of learning and internal coordination within an organisation. Furthermore, they constitute a specific view of the world. Individuals do not consciously learn an organisational culture, but they internalise it within a process of socialisation. This shows that institutional transformation can occur only if organisational culture is taken into account.

Sex –

Definition: Biological and physiological characteristics that define humans as female or male. 

These sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, but these characteristics tend to differentiate humans as females or males.

Gender – 

Definition: Social attributes and opportunities associated with being female and male and to the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as to the relations between women and those between men.

These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialisation processes. They are context- and time-specific, and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a women or a man in a given context. In most societies, there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader sociocultural context. Other important criteria for sociocultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age.
Gender-based assumptions and expectations generally place women at a disadvantage with respect to the substantive enjoyment of rights, such as freedom to act and to be recognised as autonomous, fully capable adults, to participate fully in economic, social and political development, and to make decisions concerning their circumstances and conditions.
Gender is also an important term to understand in the context of gender identity.

Gender Identity – 

Definition: Each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.

Gender Roles – 

Definition: Social and behavioural norms which, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex. 

Collectively, gender roles often determine the traditional responsibilities and tasks assigned to women, men, girls and boys (see gender division of labour). Gender-specific roles are often conditioned by household structure, access to resources, specific impacts of the global economy, occurrence of conflict or disaster, and other locally relevant factors such as ecological conditions. Like gender itself, gender roles can evolve over time, in particular through the empowerment of women and transformation of masculinities.

Gender Stereotypes – 

Definition: Preconceived ideas whereby females and males are arbitrarily assigned characteristics and roles determined and limited by their gender. 

Gender stereotyping can limit the development of the natural talents and abilities of girls and boys, women and men, as well as their educational and professional experiences and life opportunities in general. Stereotypes about women both result from, and are the cause of, deeply engrained attitudes, values, norms and prejudices against women. They are used to justify and maintain the historical relations of power of men over women as well as sexist attitudes that hold back the advancement of women.

Gender Mainstreaming – 

Definition: Systematic consideration of the differences between the conditions, situations and needs of women and men in all policies and actions.

Gender mainstreaming is the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated into all policies at all levels and all stages, by the actors normally involved in policymaking.
Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a way to make women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.
Gender mainstreaming is a complementary strategy and not a substitute for targeted, women-centred policies and programmes, gender equality legislation, institutional mechanisms for gender equality, and specific interventions that aim to close the gender gap.

Gender Perspective – 

Definition: Perspective taking into account gender-based differences when looking at any social phenomenon, policy or process. 

The gender perspective focuses particularly on gender-based differences in status and power, and considers how such discrimination shapes the immediate needs, as well as the long-term interests, of women and men. 
In a policy context, taking a gender perspective is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.

Femininities –

Definition:  Different notions of what it means to be a woman, including patterns of conduct linked to a women’s assumed place in a given set of gender roles and relations. 

It involves questioning the values and norms that traditionally apply to women’s behaviour in a given society, identifying and addressing issues connected to women’s and girls’ subordination as well as related discriminatory gender stereotypes that sustain gender inequality.

Masculinities – 

Definitions: Different notions of what it means to be a man, including patterns of conduct linked to men’s place in a given set of gender roles and relations

It involves questioning the masculine values and norms that society places on men’s behaviour, identifying and addressing issues confronting men and boys in the world of work, and promoting the positive roles that men and boys can play in attaining gender equality.

Gender-balanced participation – 

Definition: Representation of either women or men in any decision-making body in public and political life not falling below 40 % as a parity threshold.

Differing definitions exist. In a strict sense, gender-balanced participation implies equal representation, which is often referred to as the parity of participation of women and men, as recommended by the European Parliament.

Sexual Harassment – 

Definition: any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Acts of sexual harassment are, typically, carried out in the context of abuse of power, promise of reward or threat of reprisal.

Care Work –

Definition: Work of looking after the physical, psychological, emotional and developmental needs of one or more other people. 

Care recipients are generally identified as infants, school-age children, people who are ill, persons with a disability, and elderly people.                                                                            
Care providers typically include public and private health services, state-regulated or public-sector social workers, public or private care-provider agencies, enterprises of employment, voluntary and community organisations, faith-based organisations or networks, and relatives and friends. Different settings and modalities of care work apply to each of these categories.

Empowerment of Women – 

Definition: Process by which women gain power and control over their own lives and acquire the ability to make strategic choices.

Women’s empowerment has five components: women’s sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.
In this context, education, training, awareness raising, building self-confidence, expansion of choices, increased access to and control over resources, and actions to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality are important tools for empowering women and girls to claim their rights.

Intersectionality –

Definition: Analytical tool for studying, understanding and responding to the ways in which sex and gender intersect with other personal characteristics/identities, and how these intersections contribute to unique experiences of discrimination.

It starts from the premise that people live multiple, layered identities derived from social relations, history and the operation of structures of power. Intersectional analysis aims to reveal multiple identities, exposing the different types of intersectional and multiple discrimination and disadvantage that occur as a consequence of the combination of identities and the intersection of sex and gender with other grounds.