Gender dimension in Research Content

Today, 7th July: Gender dimension in Research Content, 2:00 - 4:00pm (Brussels time)

  • measures to ensure that applicants consider the role of sex-gender factors in research content
  • measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimension in research content, process and outcomes
  • measures to develop evidence showing strategic benefits of gender sensitive and responsive research

 

Comments

Henrietta Dale's picture

Welocme all. We will be starting in 30 minutes. Look forward to it.

Henrietta Dale's picture

Welcome to our first online-discussion. Our thanks to all the group members for contributing to this important topic and to Lotta, Elizabeth, Elena, Dorothy and Gloria for participating as our experts today. We are looking forward to learning from their expertise, as well as that of the entire group.

I am Henrietta Dale, Operations Manager at Portia Ltd. Portia is a member of the GenPORT consortium and we are hosting today’s online discussion.

I would like to invite Portia’s director, Elizabeth Pollitzer, to kick start today by introducing herself and framing today’s topics, relating to some current international policy frameworks. We will then hear from participating experts. Please contribute with your questions, examples or links via the “add comment” utility.   

I look forward to the discussions. If you are having any problems we can’t deal with via the platform you can reach me on hd@portiaweb.org.uk

Elizabeth, over to you.

Elizabeth Pollitzer's picture

Thanks Henrietta. So share a little about myself, I am co-founder and Director of Portia, an organization devoted to improving gender equality in STEM and promoting the inclusion of the gender dimension in STEM. I taught and researched for 20 in the Departments of Computing and Management at Imperial College, University of London. My original training was in Biophysics. I now apply this scientific background to my work as director of Portia. Portia's strategy is to help women and men have the same opportunities for engagement and advancement in science, across all science disciplines by: 1) promoting cultures that are collaborative and sensitive to gender issues; 2) ensuring that quality of research and innovation is enhanced by addressing gender issues, where relevant; and 3) showing how new ideas and markets for science knowledge can be created by including women as co-owners and co-solvers of problems facing society. Portia was the coordinator of the genSET – gender in science – project, the Gender Summits were established as part of genSET. Portia continues to centrally coordinate the Gender Summits across the world and I chair the steering committee. Thanks Henrietta, so share a little about myself, I am co-founder and Director of Portia, an organization devoted to improving gender equality in STEM and promoting the inclusion of the gender dimension in STEM. I taught and researched for 20 in the Departments of Computing and Management at Imperial College, University of London. My original training was in Biophysics. I now apply this scientific background to my work as director of Portia. Portia's strategy is to help women and men have the same opportunities for engagement and advancement in science, across all science disciplines by: 1) promoting cultures that are collaborative and sensitive to gender issues; 2) ensuring that quality of research and innovation is enhanced by addressing gender issues, where relevant; and 3) showing how new ideas and markets for science knowledge can be created by including women as co-owners and co-solvers of problems facing society. Portia was the coordinator of the genSET – gender in science – project, the Gender Summits were established as part of genSET. Portia continues to centrally coordinate the Gender Summits across the world and I chair the steering committee. 

Elizabeth Pollitzer's picture

Today we are looking at

  • measures to ensure that applicants consider the role of sex-gender factors in research content
  • measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimension in research content, process and outcomes
  • measures to develop evidence showing strategic benefits of gender sensitive and responsive research

1. Let us start with good news.  In 2014, Europe has taken an important lead in how gender is perceived in context of scientific activities by making it a criterion of success in Horizon 2020, to be evaluated in along three dimension: (i) improvements in the number of women in scientific roles; (ii) improvements in the number of proposals that include sex-gender as primary research variables; and (iii) realization of cross-cutting benefits to be achieved through gender mainstreaming.

It would be good to discuss the conditions needed to achieve these ambitions.  Point (i) fits in well with the familiar gender equality arguments, but point (ii) will be new to many researchers and evaluators, as is point (iii).  What can be done to help researchers, evaluators and the Commission’s own staff climb the steep learning curve?

2. In 2015, the EU Competitiveness Council adopted the ERA Road Map 2015-2020. The document was developed through consultations involving Member States.  The purpose of the Roadmap is to identify a limited number of key implementation priorities, which are likely to have the biggest impact on Europe’s science, research and innovation systems. The word “gender” appears 48 times in the document and has been assigned as ERA PRIORITY 4 - GENDER EQUALITY AND GENDER MAINSTREAMING IN RESEARCH.  The main focus is on national-level actions, which are expected to focus on gender equality in research performing organisations.  Horizon 2020 is expected to be the main vehicle for gender mainstreaming and incorporating gender perspectives in research, to be promoted as good practice in RFOs, RPOs and other international collaborations.  But we should acknowledge that some national RFOs (e.g. Research Council Norway and Irish Research Council) have already adopted their own strategies for promoting gender sensitive and responsive research

It would be interesting to discuss what this separation of the expectations means at practical, implementation level, i.e. advancing gender equality at national level and gender dimension in research at European level. What conditions are needed to help national RFOs recognise gender dimension as important research variable and determinant of research impact, when what drives them is the belief that decisions on research content should be left to researchers and peer review.

3.  In May 2016, 50 heads of research funding bodies from around the world who are members of the Global Research Council met in New Delhi to discuss two issues: the status of women in research and the need to promote interdisciplinary research. They concluded that to address the equality and the status of women in research issues, and, in turn, change and improve systems, two aspects need to be considered:

(i) The participation and promotion of women in the research workforce. This includes the longstanding dominance of certain demographics in academic culture and historical obstacles to their participation within particular disciplines and fields of research. 


(ii) The integration of the gender dimension in research design and in the analysis of research outcomes. 


Point (ii), by the way, was a new addition to the GRC discussions.

It would be good to discuss how to use these recommendations as a springboard for global advocacy and realization.

Add a comment to address one or all of these topics. Please remember to introduce yourself. 

Henrietta Dale's picture

Thank you Elizabeth. We'd like to now invite our participating experts to share their thoughts on the topics.

Henrietta Dale's picture

Please respond to this comment on

  • measures to ensure that applicants consider the role of sex-gender factors in research content
  • measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimension in research content, process and outcomes
  • measures to develop evidence showing strategic benefits of gender sensitive and responsive research

 

Dorothy Ngila's picture

Applying the gender dimension in research content as a whole is a ‘newer’ concept, not just of science granting councils but in my opinion, the science, and technology and innovation landscape on the continent. There is now an increased understanding that STI on the continent cannot play with half the team, and many of the measures we see being put in place are really in relation to increasing the number of girls and women participating in STI.

Having said that, the importance of applying the gender dimension in research content cannot be underestimated, and is an area that science granting councils can play a significant role as catalysts of change. In 2016, it has now, for the first time, appeared in discussions by the Global Research Council, and included as an action area for science granting councils going forward. Given recent data from science granting councils on the continent, it is certainly not an area that any of these organisations are at the moment focusing on. There are, however, three key low hanging fruits that can be used as an entry point for science granting councils.

Firstly, each granting councils prepares calls for project proposals guidelines for every grant that they advertise. These guidelines can include a write up on the importance of applying the gender dimension in research content with some examples on how that specific discipline/ field may benefit from such an exercise. And science granting councils can encourage grant applicants to take these into consideration.

Secondly, the whole grant making process by granting councils requires a number of key role players, including but not limited to: core contact persons at research performing institutions (in South Africa, we call them designated authorities and they are based in research offices), evaluators, assessors, and staff at science granting councils. In order to ensure that everyone has a clear idea of what is meant my applying the gender dimension in research content, appropriate training should be offered to these role players.

Lastly, science granting councils can use a carrot in relation to the composition of research teams, within their grant application guidelines, and thereby encouraging a diversity of research teams that apply for their grants.

Lotta's picture

I think Dorothy is right in pointing out that the diversity of the research teams goes together with the gender dimension. It is od course not automatic and a diversified research team does not automatically imply a gender dimension on the research topic but is clearly helps. A diversified team brings diversified perspectives. In addition, it a question of justice and gender equality and equal rights to funding and opportunities.

Lotta's picture

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in the very exiting forum. I am very interested in hearing about the experiences my colleagues have and in contributing to this common knowledge pool of good practices.
A few words about myself: I am responsible for gender issues at NordForsk. I have work within the “gender field” a long time and I was a research coordinator for Nordic gender studies at NIKK- Nordic Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, which now goes under the name Nordic Gender Institute.
I have a background within humanistic gender studies from the University of Helsinki in Finland. My PhD is in comparative literature, where my field has been postcolonial, Non-Western, most South Asian literature.

But now to the topic at hand:

As a funder, you have some tools to push gender balance and gender dimension through the funding and reporting process. As every country is interested in getting their return from the contribution to the EC common pot, it is important that priority 4 in the ERA Road map is recognized nationally. It might be the assessment criteria that tips a rating in your favour.
It is important to be very practical regarding the measures so that they are easy to understand and implement.
Researchers often respond to two things: a call for proposals and the assessment criteria.
1. It is important that the call text reflects a gender dimension. It should not be mentioned in a sideline, but integrated into the thematic scope of the call. This requires that the person holding the pen for the call has some knowledge about gender.
2. A mandatory assessment criteria for gender dimension is required. It is essential that the applicants are required to articulate and justify any lack gender dimension. The panel should also be granted the authority to disregard a proposal, which does not have as gender perspective and does not present a justifiable reason for it.

Henrietta Dale's picture

Thank you Lotta for these concrete suggestions. Do you have anythinng in place to ensure that your panels have the expertise to judge if gender should have been included?

Lotta's picture

Henrietta I think you are touching a very important matter which is also a very practical issue. You might start with a suggested panel that meet all the required criteria, but due to issues beyond your control you might end up with a panel composition which very different. I think the most important thing is to set up the criteria for a panel (the panel should have this knowledge jointly) and stick to it. That way you can assure transparency in the expert selection process.

Henrietta Dale's picture

Indeed Lotta, the panel's expertise is vital in translating policy to reality. The EC has recognised that they need more evaluators with gender in research content expertise if they are to realise their H2020 goal of gender as a cross cutting issue and have launched a renewed invitation to experts.

http://www.genderportal.eu/blog/invitation-join-database-gender-experts-...

Dorothy Ngila's picture

These two areas mentioned by Lotta are such practical aspects that would not require an immediate overhaul of the entire granting system at a science granting council. The issue of training of staff of science granting councils, the researchers and the evaluators of proposals becomes critical in preparation for these actions.

joerg's picture

looking at your points and the points also raised by Dorothy, I guess a crucial question concerns the training of all stakeholders involved, starting from those that draft research calls, to those that evaluate.

How do you do that at Nordforsk or how have you done that? What is the best way to get people on board? Mandatory workshops and training? Are document (guidelines) enough? I think it would also be interesting to learn how much effort and cost this really implies. In the end, that's really the crucial question - also regarding H2020 evaluations. If those people who evaluate H2020 proposals do not know about gender issues in their field of science, we are stuck. Here also comes in the importance of the Expert Database we try to build here on GenPORT in order to find gender experts across all scientific disciplines. 

Lotta's picture

NordForsk has not yet done any form of expert training. We do require a gender dimension on everything we fund (to the extent that it is possible) but we have no organised training of peer reviewers. We are a very small funder compared to the EC or the national bodies so it would be very good if we could join forces with others on this. So far, my approach at NordForsk has been to advocate for very broad interdisciplinary stakeholder activities which would involve a lot of researchers.

Lotta's picture

Joerg: The funded research also reports on a regular bases´NordForsk also use experts to assess these reports. The reporting also includes the the gender dimension . In order to broader the scope and conduct a form of “quasi” training of the research community an Scientific advisory board is a good idea. That way a broader range of researchers get into contact with the funded gender dimension and follow the development of this part of the research. But yes, you are right, this is very meagre considering ...

priscilla.mensah's picture

I agree with Jeorg and Dorothy that training is important but if the call documents don't stipulate the need for a gender dimension in the research content, it will not be in the proposal for the reviewers to assess anyway so should we not start with the call document? The call document could also include important references that explain what gender analysis is and its value.

elenamartines's picture

I agree with you all, training is key. The change in call document is the first, necessary step, but then as soon as this is done a funder must have already thought of how to ensure that this additional information is evaluated appropriately. So changing the call document and thinking of training go in tandem in my view.
In Science Foundation Ireland we have started by providing unconscious bias training to all scientific staff, but this is for tomorrow's topic.The next step in SFI is to train all scientific staff in gender in research. Having done that, we will ask for professional advice on the best way to 1) training panel chairs. This could be done by our trained scientific staff during the briefing that always happens before evaluations; and 2) training remote reviewers. There's some debate about e-learning tools to do that. The attention span of people to online videos is about 30 s nowadays. Our busy experts are unlikely to listen to a 45 min video on gendered innovation! Other funders have developed more straight-to-the-point online training resources, and we are looking at those at the moment. Hopefully next year we'll be able to report on the outcomes of this exercise!

Lotta's picture

This is very interesting. To what extent do you at SFI reuse experts? If an expert knows that s/he belongs to an expert pool, s/he might be more interested in training. NordForsk hardly ever reuse experts, we do not have yearly calls but strategic targeted calls and we always have non-Nordic experts which means that training is a little complicated. I know that the Swedish Research Council has proper training for the experts. I also think that "surveillance" or monitoring of panels could be useful. Joanneum did an evaluation of the ERC and according to them the monitoring of the panels is very useful. NordForsk has not tried it, we monitor panels but not from a gender perspective.

elenamartines's picture

Hi Lotta, like NordForsk, we don't have set expert pools, even though we do re-use many of our reviewers. We also use exclusively non-Irish experts, hence the need for remote training of some form...What do you mean by monitoring of panels? Sounds interesting.

Henrietta Dale's picture

We'd love to hear about your findings next year! I think this would be a valuable topic to share at the Gender Summits.

Lotta's picture

Hi Priscilla, I agree completely. The call is the starting point. If you do not ask for a gender dimension, you will not get it and you cannot assess it. Training is of course important for the present reviewers even though I think most professors are of the category "I know best" and not very receptacle to training (but maybe I am just cynical). What I do believe in, is mentoring. Mentoring the future reviewers, integrating a gender dimension in teaching materials, PhD courses and even PhD research plans will bring up a new generation of researchers for whom gender is self-evident. This is important!

Henrietta Dale's picture

I agree Priscilla that the call content is a pre-requisite to success and will catalyse researchers to go and find out and train themselves (we hope GenPORT will help with this!). However, the experience of European Commission funding framework programmes was that the policy fell down at evaluation as proposals were not required to explain why gender was not a consideration and evaluators where not fully equipped to identify twhere it was lacking. So, I entirely agree the call is a very important starting point (which the success of will depend on the framing, for example Lotta mentioned that their applicants are reuqired to explain why gender is not included, which in itself will lead to greater reflection) but knowledge and training must accompany it.

Dorothy Ngila's picture

I am a science stakeholder relations expert currently pursuing my career at South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF). As a project specialist at the NRF, my major time responsibility is to lead NRF's contributions to a multi-stakeholder and multi-agency programme, the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI), seeking to strengthen the capacities of Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in 16 African countries, in order to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to economic and social development. I provide strategic support for the development and enhancement of internationalisation as driven by the NRF’s International Relations and Cooperation (IRC) directorate and its multilateral engagements. I serve on the Executive Committee of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) South African National Chapter. In our discussions today and tomorrow, I will focus my input specifically within the context of science granting councils in Africa.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) was established as an independent government agency, through the National Research Foundation Act (Act No 23 of 1998). The mandate of the NRF is to promote and support research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge, and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. The NRF is funded through the science vote, primarily through the Department of Science and Technology.

priscilla.mensah's picture

I hold a PhD in Chemistry but for the past 4 years I have worked in research management. Prior to joining the National Research Foundation (NRF) I was Deputy Director of the Postgraduate School at the University of the Free State in South Africa. My current position is Director of Institutional Engagement and Partnership Development. My current role allows me to form strategic partnerships with universities in South Africa in order to drive research and innovation, I am relatively new to gender mainstreaming in academia and research management. For many years in South Africa we have been focused more on racial transformation than on gender equity. But gender equity is receiving renewed impetus. My directorate at the NRF is currently tasked with developing a Women in Research Leadership Programme for over a thousand participants. My interest in the discussion today is to identify areas where the NRF can improve in addressing gender dimensions in research content.

Oksana Kikinezhdi's picture

I am Oksana Kikinezhdi, Scientific Research Centre of the Problems of Gender Education and Upbringing Pupils and Students of NAPS of Ukraine – TNPU by Volodymyr Hnatiuk (Ternopil, Ukraine)

About my research
Identification as social and psychological phenomenon of sex differentiation. - Thesis for a Doctor Degree in Psychological Sciences, speciality 19.00.07. – Pedagogical and Age Psychology. – M. P. Dragomanov National Pedagogical University. – Kyiv, 2012.
The thesis deals with the conception of researching identification as social and psychological phenomenon of gender differentiation in ontogenesis (from elder pre-school to late adolescent age). In the context of personal-egalitarian paradigm it is stated that sex-role identification is the leading mechanism of students’ gender formation identity on different age stages development which is a process and result of motivationally valuable personal dispositions in their growing up period.
According to theoretical principles of gender approach as person oriented and egalitarian, the model of sex-role identity of personality in ontogenesis has been constructed. In interposed original statements in the context of humanistic, genetic and cognitive psychology questions of gender identity genesis have been substantiated in dialectical interconnection with personified image “I” as masculinity-femininity construct on cognitive, emotional and behavioral levels, its content, structure and typological peculiarities for every age stage of growing up have been grounded; the nature of psychological mechanisms and the rules of sex-role identification functioning, the main approaches of its psycho-diagnostics of pre-school, middle school, high school and university students have been defined.
The suggested psychological model of sex-role identification helps to generalize external (social-educational) factors and personal determinants of personalization of gender “I”, indicate criteria, levels and indexes of structural-dynamic and typological distinctions of this process, their effect on students’ gender socialization, gender behavior. A systematic module of gender enlightening of teaching staff, different forms of developing and correctional work with students, parents, teachers have been developed and implemented in educational establishments of different levels. The model of gender-educative technologies as educational accompaniment of personal sex socialization in the period of a person’s growing up aimed at gender partnership and personal development, the formation of egalitarian consciousness of schoolchildren with a view of their successful adaptation to personal, professional and civic self-realization has been developed and tested.
Key words: sex-role identification, gender identity, personal sex socialization, gender role conceptions, gender orientations, masculinity-femininity-androgenic construct, gender image “I”, gender stereotype, gender competences, person oriented approach, egalitarian consciousness and self-consciousness, gender expertise, gender educative technologies, psychological and educational accompaniment.

Ira_Sh's picture

I am Shulha I. M., scientific researcher of TNPU by Volodymyr Hnatiuk (Ternopil, Ukraine)

About my research
The Formation of Preschoolers and Junior Schoolchildren’s Valeological Culture on the Basis of Gender Approach. –
Thesis for a scientific degree of Candidate of Pedagogical Sciences in speciality 13.00.07 – Theory and Methods of Education. – Institute of Problems on Education of the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, 2016.
The thesis is devoted to the issue of preschoolers and junior schoolchildren’s valeological culture formation. The essence of valeological culture and its correlation with a number of terms have been substantiated. The influence of social and educational factors of gender socialization on the formation of 5–10 year old children’s valeological culture has been revealed. The author’s conception of „preschoolers and junior schoolchildren’s valeological culture on the basis of gender approach” has been represented. Structural components, criteria, indices and levels of preschoolers and junior schoolchildren’s valeological culture formation have been specified, with the gender factor taken into account. The model of the preschoolers and junior schoolchildren’s valeological culture formation based on gender approach has been developed, implemented, and its efficiency has been tested. The pedagogical conditions of this process have been determined.
Keywords: valeological culture, gender approach, personal-oriented approach, preschoolers, junior schoolchildren, pre-school, primary school, pedagogical conditions.

Lotta's picture

A few words about NordForsk. NordForsk is a platform for joint Nordic research and research infrastructure cooperation. The organisation was established in 2005 by the Nordic Council of Ministers in order to strengthen the Nordic research and Innovation Area. NordForsk´s mandate is to facilitate, i.e. to identify and respond to strategic priorities for Nordic research cooperation, and thereby create Nordic added value. NordForsk’s key stakeholders comprise the national research councils, universities and other research-funding bodies. Together we work to identify common Nordic priorities and provide funding for research and research infrastructure.
Through the financing and administration of research programmes NordForsk brings together national research groups and promotes research activities of the highest scientific quality.

NordForsk seeks to enhance the quality, impact and efficiency of Nordic research cooperation, thereby helping the Nordic region to become a world leader in research and innovation.

elenamartines's picture

Hi all, thank you so much for this opportunity to share my experience and learn about yours. I am a Scientific Programme Manager in Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the national Irish funding agency for basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). I hold a MEng in Mechanical and Design Engineering from the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon, France, and a PhD in tissue engineering from the University of Glasgow, UK. I have been working in scientific research for 11 years, and I have also consulted for medical technology companies and was involved in setting up industry-academia research partnerships.
In Science Foundation Ireland, I have founded and led the SFI Diversity Working Group, with the aim to define and implement the SFI Gender Strategy 2016-2020. In 2014 I have run the SFI Advance Awards for Women in Science. At a European level, I lead Task 4 – Grant Management Policy- within the Science Europe Gender and Diversity Working Group.

elenamartines's picture

A brief description of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). SFI is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. SFI invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive enterprises in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and, in particular, to the growth of the economy.
SFI makes grants based upon the merit review of distinguished scientists.
SFI also advances co-operative efforts among education, government, and industry that support its fields of emphasis and promotes Ireland’s ensuing achievements around the world.

elenamartines's picture

In SFI we are in the process of updating our call documents to allow applicants to describe how gender considerations are integrated in their research programme. The consideration of sex/gender factors in research content is essential to ensure that the outcomes of research, and therefore its economic and societal impact, is relevant to men and women alike. In an attempt to encourage applicants to consider sex and gender aspects within their experimental design, several funding agencies request that applicants describe if, why and how gender considerations have (or not) been taken into account within the research programme at proposal stage. How this information should be evaluated, and its inclusion monitored, is the object of debate. Science Foundation Ireland is in the process of updating the call documents to request that applicants describe the relevant gender considerations within the research programme description. It is Science Foundation Ireland’s position that gender considerations should be an integral part of the scientific evaluation, in the same way as the appropriateness and soundness of, e.g., control experiments is evaluated by expert reviewers to assess the excellence of a proposed research programme. Given that there are scientific disciplines and projects that do not lend themselves to the inclusion of gender considerations, Science Foundation Ireland would not recommend establishing indicators that could be interpreted as “the more, the better” and would drive gender factors to be included in non-relevant projects, as a tokenistic measure. We would, instead, recommend monitoring the number of agencies that request applicants to describe the gender considerations pertinent to their experimental design, and the number of agencies that brief their reviewers on evaluating sex-gender factors in research content. These indicators should be relevant both to grant evaluation (ex-ante) and grant management (ex-post) reviews, as applicable.

Elizabeth Pollitzer's picture

Thank you very much Elena. I fully agree that there are areas where sex-gender do not belong in the content of the research itself, but gender equality issues will be relevant in relation to impact, e.g. through outreach, science education, policy advice, societal responsibility.  For example, I am advisor on the NAPES project, led by Dublin City University, which is developing environmental sensors for water safety using microfluidic technology.  There is no sex or gender in the content of the research but clearly the outcomes have, and knowing this could help promote such research, and the deployment of the results for the benefit of society.  Examined from the impact and social responsibility perspective, even gravitational waves researchers would benefit from understanding sources and consequence of gender inequality issues.

elenamartines's picture

Thanks you very much Elizabeth, I couldn't agree more. In line with other international funding agencies, Science Foundation Ireland has adopted the following definition of Impact, recognizing it as the “the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy”. For research to be truly impactful, its outcomes must be relevant to the desired stakeholders. For this reason, consideration of gender aspects in research is essential to accurately define the stakeholder group. When research claims to be relevant to human beings for example, it is important that relevant differences between men and women are appropriately considered in experimental design.
In the assessment of impact, not only outputs, but also longer term outcomes must be considered, as the NAPES project exemplifies. Training of applicants and evaluators is key to ensure that all these aspects are considered in the grant funding process.

Henrietta Dale's picture

That's very intersting Elena. Does the definition of impact expand in your trianing materials to outline gender issued to consider? Do you find that your applicants are generally well equipeed to asses relevant differences between men and women are appropriately considered in experimental design.

elenamartines's picture

Thanks for this questions Henrietta. Our definition of impact does not include genedered issues yet, but this is something we are going to address. As for the gender awareness in the scientific community, we find that our applicants are not generally very well equipped to assess if a gender dimension is relevant to their proposed research. This is not for lack of skills, but for lack of training indeed. This is not just an Irish problem, but we want to do something about it. In fact, the Irish Research Council (IRC) organised nation-wide training in the research institutions precisely to address this shortcoming. Nevertheless, funders cannot force applicants to attend voluntary courses! Therefore I agree with Lotta. It is the funders' responsibility to make sure that gender in research becomes an integral part of the merit review process for funding applications. This in turn becomes an incentive for applicants to learn more about gendered innovation and to include it in their experimental design, where relevant.

Lotta's picture

It is important to establish a follow-up on funded calls. Even though a call for proposal has a requirement of gender dimension, there is no way of knowing in H2020 (or at NordForsk for that matter) whether the projects funded actually have a gender dimension and what the impact of this gender dimension is. This is a very long-term undertaking, but it is important to monitor the development of the gender dimension: in what type of research do you have, who does this research, where is what impact does it have. Only with the facts and figures can the argument for the importance of a gender dimension be really convincing.
I am not aware of anybody who does this. This is something NordForsk is considering. As we are very small with a manageable amount of calls it could be easier for us than for a big funder with a lot involved actors.

Lotta's picture

The researchers usually have more time to think about a gender dimension than the peer reviewers. A funder’s primary responsibility is to guarantee that the experts chosen really are experts and capable of assessing all the criteria. An expert should not be allowed to prioritize among the criteria or disregard a criteria. All criteria should be equally important for the expert when assessing a proposal. It is the funder, who should prioritize the criteria not the expert. This is very important and should be conveyed with rigour to all experts.
Depending on the assessment process, there might be a panel. In the assessment process which includes a panel a lot of information is passed around informally from the responsible adviser, from the chair of an assessment panel and between panel members during a panel meeting. These are often informal conversations and combined with the power structures in play, we know from various sources that gender easily is pushed out or ignored in these conversations. It is also very difficult for one single panel member to emphasize the importance of gender in a context which is indifferent or even hostile to gender. To avoid this all peer review should be submitted in writing prior to the panel meeting.

All these suggestions are structural changes which the funder can undertake. However, it does not change the “researcher material” or it changes it far too slowly. Training is of course the most important aspect, but somehow I fail to image that all professors willingly would attend a training course and then learn the importance of gender. I believe that if the call text is well enough written and gender a fundamental part of it integrated into all aspects of the thematic scope then a peer reviewer cannot disregard it. Any research proposal which does not consider gender would then fail to be relevant to the call.
However, it is important to note that not all research has a gender dimension I am mostly talking about research that fall within the realm that has. Also as Elizabeth, mentioned somewhere the impact of the research might very well be gendered.

Elizabeth Pollitzer's picture

I like Lotta's suggestion to require written reviews before panels meet to avoid innformal (biased) comments influencing outcomes.  I think too much trust has been put in implicit bias training.  There is no scientific evidence (that I have seen) which demonstrates what kind of intervention (to disrupt the effects of implicit gender bias) have lasting effect on gender beliefs.  Perhaps, anyone there has seen such a study?

Dorothy Ngila's picture

I believe that the Royal Society has been undertaking some work in the area of implicit bias in relation to their fellowships and prize committees. I dont know whether they have produced any evidence in relation to the lasting effects of this but would be worthwhile to find out.

priscilla.mensah's picture

I found the European Commission Report of the Expert Group “Innovation through Gender” entitled Gendered Innovations: How Gender Analysis Contributes to Research very insightful. It provides case studies that demonstrate how harnessing the power of sex and gender analysis creates gendered innovations or new knowledge or technologies. We don't have to reinvent the wheel in my organisation but can use these case studies as a basis for requiring that researchers submitting proposals for funding must include gender dimensions in their research content. This approach will incentivise researchers to take gender analysis into consideration in their work if they want funding from the National Research Foundation. Over time, it will be possible to assess the benefits of this approach.
(http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/document_library/pdf_06/gen...)

joerg's picture

I find the whole question regarding the social impact of research highly fascinating. I think it is a question that is becoming more and more important for research funders. How complicated this really is comes nicely across by an article of Lutz Bornman "What is social impact of research and how can it be assessed" Not surprisingly gender issues do not fare very prominent within the emerging frameworks.

 

Elizabeth Pollitzer's picture

I have not considered this in much detail, but think we need to distinguish between "social impact" and "social responsibility" of research, where the latter is more than ethics.  

 

avellis's picture

I am Gianna Avellis, currently senior researcher in ICT at InnovaPuglia, Italy, and chair of three Working Groups of Women in Science inside Marie Curie Alumni Association, Marie Curie Fellows Association and Italian Women Innovators and Inventors Network.

My first answer to the issue of systematic analysis of gender dimension and in particular on teh measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimension in research content, process and outcomes,
Is to consider Gendered Innovations to add a valuable dimension to research, bringing research in new directions by harnessing the creative power of sex and gender analysis for innovation and discovery
Gendered Innovations stimulate gender-responsible science and technology, thereby enhancing the quality of life for both women and men worldwide. It add value to research and engineering by ensuring excellence and quality in outcomes and enhancing sustainability, add value to society by making research more responsive to social needs., add value to business by developing new ideas, patents, and technology.

Measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimensions in research can be devised by applying gender bias in research, which also lead to missed market opportunities (see Pregnant Crash Test Dummies, Stem Cells, Osteoporosis Research in Men to mention a few.
It is crucially important therefore to identify gender bias. Gendered Innovations offer state-of-the-art methods of sex and gender analysis. Integrating these methods into basic and applied research produces excellence in science, health & medicine, and engineering research, policy, and practice..

avellis's picture

I am Gianna Avellis, currently senior researcher in ICT at InnovaPuglia, Italy, and chair of three Working Groups of Women in Science inside Marie Curie Alumni Association, Marie Curie Fellows Association and Italian Women Innovators and Inventors Network.

My first answer to the issue of systematic analysis of gender dimension and in particular on teh measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimension in research content, process and outcomes,
Is to consider Gendered Innovations to add a valuable dimension to research, bringing research in new directions by harnessing the creative power of sex and gender analysis for innovation and discovery
Gendered Innovations stimulate gender-responsible science and technology, thereby enhancing the quality of life for both women and men worldwide. It add value to research and engineering by ensuring excellence and quality in outcomes and enhancing sustainability, add value to society by making research more responsive to social needs., add value to business by developing new ideas, patents, and technology.

Measures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimensions in research can be devised by applying gender bias in research, which also lead to missed market opportunities (see Pregnant Crash Test Dummies, Stem Cells, Osteoporosis Research in Men to mention a few.
It is crucially important therefore to identify gender bias. Gendered Innovations offer state-of-the-art methods of sex and gender analysis. Integrating these methods into basic and applied research produces excellence in science, health & medicine, and engineering research, policy, and practice..

Athena-Maria's picture

Hello. I am a Research Fellow working at Associazione Orlando based in Italy. My research forms part of a Horizon 2020 project GRACE (http://graceproject.eu/) investigating cultures of equality in Europe. More specifically, my work is on translating critical and creative competencies into innovative techniques for equality building.

Both in my experience working as a gender and diversity trainer and in my research on women's leadership, as well as my current research on equality, I have found that one of the major obstacles to integrating gender into project and research grants is that we are essentially asking people who have never used gender as an analytical framework to begin to incorporate it into their work, with none of the requisite information or training at their disposal.

The strategic benefits of gender sensitive research are undeniable, so incentivising researchers to incorporate this from proposal to outcomes is important. My question is how can we provide these prospective researchers with the support they need to apply gender analysis in their proposals and throughout the research process?

Dorothy Ngila's picture

Athena-Maria, thank you for this question. I have to say that it is exactly what i was thinking about when i framed training as an important aspect for us to achieve what we desire. I see two areas where funding agencies can play a role: 1) they have a major carrot advantage in this debate and they can require that research performing institutions undertake this kind of training for researchers while providing funding for this, and 2) make funds available as part of the research grant that allows researchers to continuously empower themselves in this area

Rachel Palmén's picture

Dear Athena, 

It seems that the Irish Research Council has hosted workshops where gender experts facilitated sessions to enable researchers to identify whether a sex/ gender dimension is relevant and if so how to integrate it into the research design, implementation, evaluation and dissemination. This might be an interesting example of how support can be provided to researches to integrate the gender dimension. 

Rachel Palmén's picture

I am Rachel Palmén and I have been involved with the GenPORT team in developing 25 policy briefs for national level policy makers and institutional science managers. The policy briefs attempt to provide examples of legislation, policies, initiatives and measures that can be taken at both the national and institutional levels. 

These policy briefs are designed to be read by national level policy makers and institutional science leaders and will be updated twice during the course of the project to take the findings of new research into account. The GenPORT community will be able to contribute experiences of policy measures and, evaluation learning to the briefs through the portal through online discussions. 

We would like to make the most of  this opportunity for this online discussion to contribute the next version of the policy briefs specifically discussing integrating the gender dimension in research funding organisations. We are looking to incorporate innovative measures. 

Below I paste Policy Brief 16: 

PB16: Integrating the Gender Dimension in Research Content for Research Funding Organisations: How to innovate? 

For those countries identified as having measures whilst funders provide frequent support for the inclusion of the gender dimension at a rate above the EU average.

This policy brief provides evidence-based, concrete recommendations for national level policy makers and research funders on how to integrate the gender dimension into research content. 

Why is this important? 

Integrating the gender dimension into the research process and content means integrating sex and gender analysis into research.327 It can improve the quality of research and its outcomes. For example in the field of health, both men and women need to be included in clinical trials for drug development. Integrating sex and gender analysis into the research process saves human lives and prevents the waste of economic resources. It also helps to ensure that research reflects the needs of a diverse population thereby increasing the relevance of its outcomes.It may also contribute to opening up more market opportunities by diversifying the experiences and expertise in the innovation process.

 

The European Commission’s major research funding programme Horizon 2020  (2014 -2020) prioritises the integration of gender/sex analysis in research and innovation (R&I) content as one of its main objectives to improve greater gender equality in science. Member states have been invited to create a legal and policy environment and provide incentives to strengthen the gender dimension in research programmes. Various national initiatives have been already undertaken to encourage greater sensitivity and the integration of better response to  sex and gender analysis gender issues in science knowledge and practice. These include developing and providing support for: 

 

  • policies and strategies promoting the integration and analysis of sex/gender as research variables and determinant of outcomes
  • research funding programmes aimed at advancing cross-cutting impact of sex/gender aware and responsive research 
  • guidelines and training materials for researchers and research managers
  • guidelines/ training for assessment and evaluation of gender as component of excellence and impact in research proposals and projects
  • recommendations and/ or models for university STEM curricular development and researcher training in relevant fields.

Funding agencies play a pivotal role as they prioritise certain research areas to fund and promote.

What is the extent of the problem?

This policy brief addresses specifically those countries with measures supporting the inclusion of the gender dimension in research content/ programmes. At the same time the share of funders that frequently support the inclusion of the gender dimension in research content is above EU average. In concrete terms this “How to Innovate” -policy brief targets specifically: Italy. 

Funders in only a few countries in Europe support the inclusion of the gender dimension in research content/ programmes according to the ERA survey 2014.335In Italy 94% of research funders reported providing frequent support to the inclusion of the gender dimension in research content.

What solutions have been tried? 

There are various ways that national level policy makers and research funders can promote the integration of the gender dimension into research. These can be legislative measures, ‘soft measures’, or strategies and policies to encourage and promote the integration of the gender dimension. Funding agencies can: 

 

  • create research funding programmes aimed at integrating sex/gender analysis in research
  • consult and include gender experts when designing research funding programmes
  • encourage or request applicants to consider whether the gender dimension is relevant to the proposed research project, and specify how this will be taken into account 
  • include the gender dimension as an evaluation criterion in project assessment 337
  • develop guidelines and training on the gender dimension for applicants and proposal reviewers 338

 

The Research Council of Norway – promotes integration of gender in research content by including it as mandatory in evaluation criteria for both its project and institutional funding programmes. As well as developing an institutional strategy to include the gender dimension, – the Research Council of Norway recognises the importance of its role at a national level – for promoting the integration of the gender dimension in order to strengthen the knowledge base.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) draws attention to the integration of sex/ and/ or gender considerations in all its funding opportunities. It requires all applicants for grant programmes to respond to mandatory sex and gender relevance questions when filling out application forms.  Peer reviewers are also informed to consider applicants’ responses to the sex/gender questions when reviewing grant proposals. CIHR have also integrated the inclusion of the gender dimension into monitoring and evaluation systems. Outcomes from the evaluation show a greater number of researchers including sex/ and/ or gender into their research a greater awareness of sex/ and/ or gender in health research, - thereby leading to more rigorous research and more equitable and ethical outcomes.

The Austrian Ministry of Transport administers the ‘Talents’ Programme which includes a research line ‘FEMtech’ which aims to integrate the gender dimension into research & innovation contents focusing on both genders needs and demands. The criteria for the evaluation of projects includes relevance, i.e. gender aspects in the research topic in terms of adequate research design, team composition and the economic potential / exploitation: customer orientation. The Austrian Ministry of Transport has also integrated the inclusion of the gender dimension into monitoring and evaluation systems. Outcomes include a higher quality of research projects; greater awareness and gender-competence – learning for applicants and evaluators; and guidelines and events.

Recommendations

  • Include the sex/gender dimension in research curricular/ content as a criterion for funding in performance agreements with RPOs and RFOs or when public administrations provide research funding allocated on a competitive basis.
  • Maximise their own role of as research funders in raising the quality of research by creating effective incentives for researchers to integrate the sex/gender dimension into research content. 
  • Consult and include gender experts in designing research funding programmes and in monitoring and evaluation 
  • Integrate into the proposal template a section where applicants are asked to describe, when relevant, ‘how sex and gender analysis is taken into account in the projects’ content’.
  • Make a greater effort to promote and disseminate research that has successfully integrated the sex/gender dimension.
  • Develop and provide guidelines and/ or training materials/ workshops to assist applicants to competently integrate sex and/ or gender analysis into research designs.
  • Develop and provide guidelines and/ or training materials/ workshops to assist proposal reviewers/ evaluators to competently assess the sex/gender dimension of applications. 
  • Integrate the inclusion of the sex/gender dimension into research funders’ monitoring and evaluation systems in order to be able to successfully demonstrate the impact of this approach. 

 

 

Further Reading 

 

Gender-Net, (2015a). Compendium of national initiatives on the integration of the gender dimension in research contents. Available at: http://www.gender-net.eu/IMG/pdf/GENDER-NET_D3-9_-_Compendium_of_national_initiatives_on_the_integration_of_the_gender_dimension_in_research_contents.pdf

 

League of European Research Universities, (LERU), (2015). Gendered Research and Innovation: Integrating Sex and Gender Analysis into the Research Process. Available at: http://media.leidenuniv.nl/legacy/leru-paper-gendered-research-and-innovation.pdf

 

Schiebinger, L., Klinge, I., Sánchez de Madariaga, I., Paik, H. Y., Schraudner, M., and Stefanick, M. (Eds.) (2011-2015). Gendered Innovations in Science, Health &     Medicine, Engineering and Environment. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/research/gendered-innovations/.

 

Lotta's picture

I think these recommendations are splendid!

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Active Threads:

2016-Jul-08

3 years 4 months ago
Posted by: Henrietta Dale
Today we will be discussing:measures to achieve sufficient gender balance among applicants for research grants, and among grant evaluation panelsmeasures to ensure that women and men have the same success rates and receive the same average grant amount, taking into account the nature of the research and the type of grant
Comments: 56

2016-Jul-07

3 years 4 months ago
Posted by: Henrietta Dale
Today, 7th July: Gender dimension in Research Content, 2:00 - 4:00pm (Brussels time)measures to ensure that applicants consider the role of sex-gender factors in research contentmeasures to promote systematic analysis of gender dimension in research content, process and outcomesmeasures to develop evidence showing strategic benefits of gender sensitive and responsive research 
Comments: 60