Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation. 2020. Report on the Implementation of Targets: Follow-Up on the 2018 Guidance Recommendations. ERAC.

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Executive summary This document reports on the implementation of actions and measures to support gender balance in decision-making and in Grade A positions, as one of the objectives of the European Research Area Priority 4 gender equality and gender mainstreaming. The report was prepared by the Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation and was adopted on 18 August 2020. In the 2018 Guidance to facilitate the implementation of targets to promote gender equality in research and innovation, the European Commission and the Helsinki Group on Gender in Research and Innovation (now Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation, SWG GRI), in consultation with the European Research Area stakeholders’ platform, delivered seven recommendations. The Guidance was prepared in response to the Council Conclusions on Advancing Gender Equality in the European Research Area, adopted on 1 December 2015, where the Council of the European Union ‘invite[d] Member States and institutions to strive for guiding targets for a more even gender balance for professors’ and ‘invite[d] relevant authorities to set up guiding targets, for example quantitative objectives, for better gender balance in decision-making bodies including leading scientific and administrative boards, recruitment and promotion committees as well as evaluation panels and encourage[d] research funding and performing organisations to reach these targets by 2020’.

In 2020, the ERAC SWG GRI carried out a follow-up mapping of the status of the implementation of these seven recommendations. Twenty-five countries provided a Guidance follow-up overview, including 19 Member States (MS) and 6 Associated Countries (AC). To complement the information provided by the SWG GRI members, desk research was performed. Additional analyses were made using the latest edition of She Figures 2018 (European Commission 2019). This report highlights that many MS and AC have made progress and are developing their national as well as institutional policy frameworks to advance gender balance in decision-making. As the examples of good and emerging practices show, these take various forms from a comprehensive policy where addressing gender balance in decision-making is one part of a set of actions, to standalone initiatives. Despite the policies and actions taken, it remains a fact that in many countries women continue to be excluded from decision-making processes, including in research areas that affect primarily women’s well-being and health. The report highlights the continued differences in the degree of implementation of the recommendations. On a positive note, statistical sex-disaggregated data collection (recommendation n°1) has improved over the years, and statistics on decision-making positions and for Grade A positions are now generally available. Indeed, 23 out of 25 countries reviewed have this recommendation in place. Also, efforts have been made to promote gender balance in decision-making positions and professorship with adequate awareness-raising and training, implemented in 20 countries (Recommendation 2). There appears to be a continued gap between the EU-15 and EU-13 when it comes to the other recommendations. A significant proportion of countries that responded to the survey are implementing (Recommendation 5) and regularly evaluating (Recommendation 6) targets and/or quotas through legislation with 14 countries each. Almost half of the countries are introducing incentives or sanctions to stimulate gender balance in decision-making (Recommendation 7). In contrast, gender balance among Grade A positions is rarely used as an evaluation criterion of institutional assessment of higher education institutions in Member States and Associated Countries with only 4 countries implementing it (Recommendation 4). In addition, although half of the countries are implementing mandatory gender equality plans (or equivalent) for universities and research organisations, only one country is institutionalising GEPs as an assessment tool in the accreditation of universities (Recommendation 3).

To complement the analysis of the implementation of the seven recommendations, additional analyses were performed looking at the proportion of women in Grade A positions, among heads of HEIs, and on boards. These show that the proportion of women in Grade A / full professors is, on its own, not sufficient to compare countries on the degree of gender equality in research and innovation. Importantly, all the countries in Cluster 1 that have adopted the largest number of the seven recommendations (5 to 6) also have comprehensive or focused NAPS. In contrast, there are countries that do not have any actions to support gender equality in their ERA National Action Plan and Strategy (NAPS), nor have they implemented any of the seven Guidance recommendations for decision-making positions and leadership. An analysis of the NAPS implementation at national level shows that of the total 185 actions in Priority 4 gender equality and gender mainstreaming that are finished or that are ongoing and have reached more than 50% completion, 27 actions (14.6%) explicitly address gender balance in research leadership positions (senior/Grade A positions) and in decision-making. In terms of the types of actions taken, developing quotas or targets for leadership positions and decision-making has eight actions, and awards and funding/mentoring/support programmes for women professors count six actions. Developing a GEP, other strategies, or pacts is the third most common type with four actions, followed by training, guidelines, charters, or any material about gender equality or gender bias in R&I and in HR with three actions. The future European Research Area must continue action in this area, particularly in the countries where progress has been slow and where the recommendations show poor rates of uptake.

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