Equal Opportunities Award for scientific contributions on equality and diversity issues

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From left to right: Micol Ferrario, Marta Fadda, Ilaria FalvoFrom left to right: Micol Ferrario, Marta Fadda, Ilaria Falvo

Dr Marta Fadda and PhD students Ilaria Falvo and Micol Ferrario were awarded the 2022 USI Equal Opportunities Award, now in its fifth edition, for scientific contributions on equality and diversity issues.

Each year, the Universitą della Svizzera italiana, through its Equal Opportunities Service , promotes a competition to award a prize worth CHF 2,000 for a master’s thesis, doctoral dissertation or scientific article (published or accepted) on equality and diversity issues.

The aim of the award is to stimulate interest and promote the commitment of the USI student body and early-career academic staff to address issues of equality, diversity and/or inclusiveness, understood in all possible dimensions, including but not limited to: gender, age, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, culture, religion, ethnicity and socio-economic status.

2022 Edition

This fifth edition was characterised by 16 applications, from PhD and post-doctoral researchers and USI Master’s graduates. The applications came from all USI faculties and, for the first time, also the Theology faculty, signalling the transversality of the theme across disciplines.

The Equal Opportunities Delegation unanimously decided to award the 2022 Prize equally to two works:

The scientific article "Lived experiences of older adults during the first COVID-19 lockdown: A qualitative study" . PLoS ONE, 2021 vol. 16(6), written by Faculty of Biomedical Sciences postdoctoral researcher Dr Marta Fadda and Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society PhD candidate Ilaria Falvo together with Professors Emiliano Albanese and Maria Caiata Zufferey. The article reveals the dramatic psychological and social consequences of public health policies aimed at people over the age of 65 during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the social and physical isolation of people over the age of 65 during the acute phase of the pandemic protected them from infection, it also resulted not only in increased loneliness and health problems among the participants, but also in the reinforcement of negative stereotypes towards them such as the idea that all elderly people are the same and of little value to the community. In this work, the topic of diversity is mainly treated from the perspective of age and the vulnerability and social discrimination of the over-65 category.

The scholarly article "La pathologisation de l’homosexualite: le role du droit dans le chemin envers l’interdiction des therapies de conversion en Suisse", ex/ante, 2/2021, pp. 43 - 51, written by Faculty of Economics PhD candidate Micol Ferrario together with Marta Taroni. The article deals with the so-called conversion therapies to which people of a homosexual orientation are subjected to in many countries around the world, including Europe and Switzerland. In Switzerland, the ban on such practices does not exist in federal law, but only in some cantons. This article not only provides legal justification for the need to expressly prohibit conversion therapies also at a federal level in Switzerland, but also helps to make readers aware of the urgency of protecting gender identity and sexual orientation as fundamental rights of every individual. In this work, the topic of diversity is primarily treated from the perspective of protecting the integrity of the individual regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

"Like other members of the Equal Opportunity Delegation, I was delighted with the large number of submissions received this year," says Sonja Hildebrand , Pro-Rector for Research in the Humanities and Equal Opportunities. "This shows considerable interest from students and young researchers in the themes of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion, which were explored from various perspectives in the works submitted. Also delightful is the high quality of the work submitted. This led to awarding two first prizes, ex aequo, one of which went to two co-authors. Soon, two videos will be posted on the Equal Opportunity Service website. The award winners present their work in a documentary that I hope will inspire other young researchers."