Main Discussion Thread: Gender Dimension in Research Content & Process

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3. Main discussion is scheduled for Tuesday 15th of February 2017 from 14:00 to 16:30 Central European Time. However, posts are welcome after that date as well.

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Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Welcome everyone. We will start in 20 minutes. I look forward to your contributions.

 

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Welcome to our online-discussion. Let me express my thank you to all registered participants for contributing to this important topic and to María, Inés, Sybille 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.

My name is Alexandra Bitusikova and I am a social anthropologist and Vice-Rector for Research at Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. Our university is a member of the GenPORT consortium and we are hosting today’s online discussion.

I would like to introduce briefly the topic of today.

Integrating the gender dimension into the research content and research process means integrating sex and gender analysis into research. It can improve the quality of research and its results and outcomes. We can find many examples for instance in health and life sciences which show us that if we do not include both men and women in clinical trials, the results might be misleading. Strengthening gender dimension in research can also open new market opportunities in various sectors by diversifying the expertise in innovation processes.

The European Commission pays an increasing attention to integrating the gender dimension in research in its funding programme Horizon 2020 (see also Vademecum on Gender Equality in Horizon 2020; https://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub_gender_equality/2016-03-21-V...). We can find also national and institutional strategies and initiatives that encourage more sensitivity towards the integration of sex and gender analysis in science knowledge and practice. Yet, according to the ERA Survey in 2014, only about 44% of research performing organisations (RPOs) in Europe include the gender dimension in research content.

What can be done? How can RPOs encourage their researchers to take the question of gender dimension in research content seriously? What should a researcher take into account when preparing a research proposal? What are the best arguments to convince those who „do not believe“ in the importance of gender dimension in research?

We encourage you to ask any questions related to this topic. The only stupid question is the question that is never asked. Please contribute also with your experience, examples or links via the “add comment” utility.

We will start at 14.00. I would then like to invite our participating experts to introduce themselves. 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 alexandra.bitusikova@umb.sk.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

So now it is time to start. Welcome everyone again. May I ask our experts to introduce themselves and start our discussion?

Sybille Reidl's picture

Hello everybody! My name is Sybille Reidl from Joanneum Research – a non universiterian research organisation mainly in the field of natural science and engineering in Austria. I am a sociologist working in the Institute for Economic and Innovation Research of Joanneum Research which is focused on applied research and consulting services in the fields of science, technology and innovation (STI). My main research areas are gender/diversity and human resources in STI (especially promotion of equal opportunities, promotion of young researchers / teenagers in natural sciences and engineering) and evaluation of gender equality policies and initiatives in STI. But I also support technology development projects in integrating gender and other diversity dimensions in the development process. Up to now I accompanied projects in the fields of sensor technology, optotechnology and information technology as a gender consultant.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Thank you, Sybille. We are happy to have you with us.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

I can see that María is online. María, can you pls introduce yourself? 

Sybille Reidl's picture

Thank you for inviting me, Alexandra!

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

My name is María del Mar García Calvente and I am PhD in Medicine and specialist in Public Health. I´m currently working at the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP) (Granada, Spain), with responsibilities in teaching, research and national and international consulting. I am directing the Specialization Diploma in Gender and Health and leading the research group Gender and Social Determinants of Health.
My research focuses on gender inequalities in health, and especially on informal health care.
In the topic of informal care, I have experience in research on the impact of caring on the health and quality of life of caregivers. I am currently directing the multi-center project CUIDAR-SE, which is a follow-up project whose main objective is to analyze gender differences in the evolution of care and its impact on the health of caregivers.
I have also investigated gender inequalities in health. In this subject, I have directed a research project in Andalusia (Spain) whose purpose is to design an Atlas of Gender Inequalities in Health and its Determinants. In this project, we have also developed an Indicators Guide to measure Gender Inequalities in Health.
At the international level, I have participated in the European SOPHIE project (Evaluating the impact of structural policies on health inequalities and their social determinants and fostering change) evaluating how certain government policies can reduce (or not) gender inequalities in health.
Our team has also developed a Guide to Incorporate the Gender Perspective in Health Research (in Spanish), whose content offers concrete recommendations on how to design and evaluate health research projects taking into account gender content.

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

Thank you very much for inviting me to this discussion.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Thank you very much, María. We can see you have lots of experience - maybe later in the discussion you can tell us a bit more about the guides you mention - sounds very interesting.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

And it seems Inés is with us - a warm welcome! Can you please introduce yourself, Inés?

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

I will gladly extend the information later

ismadariaga's picture

Hello, I am Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, professor of Urban Planning at the Technical University of Madrid and Director of the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality Policies in Science, Technology and Innovation. As way of introduction, I would like to point out to some of the main areas of action of the UNESCO Chair:
The first one is on how to introduce gender in the New Urban Agenda on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements. This has been one of my main area of research for over two decades. I have been a very active player in the process leading up to the New Urban Agenda, as a gender expert at UN-Habitat within the Habitat III process. I have also provided advice on these areas to government bodies at the national, local and regional levels. I have done research on gender in transportation, developing the concet of "mobility of care". Recently, I have advised the Regional Government of the Basque Country on how to gender mainstream its Territorial Plan.
A second and interrelated area of work is on Gender in the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. I am a member of the Advisory Council of the Spanish chapter of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, UN-SDSN. I am also member of an expert group advising the European Commission on the creation of a Platform to improve gender and women’s participation in transport. As Chair of the COST network genderSTE, joining 200 representatives from 4 countries, we have collaboratively worked with gender scholars and practitioners in the field of sustainable development throughout Europe and beyond, during the past four years. We have organized 4 major international conferences, and created the Edith Stein Educational Program on gender in these areas, geared at capacity building of researchers and policy makers in the areas of gender in city building, infrastructure provision, transport and climate change.

Sybille Reidl's picture

Maybe this project then could be interesting for you: I am currently supporting „AktivDaheim“, a project where a training platform for people with dementia will be developed. The challenge is to identify needs of men and women training their brain with this training program. Moreover we have to identify the requirements that people with dementia, trainers and familiy members have concerning usability of the training platform and have to take them into account in further developments.

ismadariaga's picture

thanks for this invitation!

katarina kostialova's picture

I am Katarina from Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.
Dear María, can you tell us more details about the Atlas of gender inequalities in health? What indicators did you develop and what did you find out?
Thank you,
Katarina

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Thank you very much, Inés - it seems that the expertise of our experts today is really very broad and rich. Great. Let us give a floor to some questions or comments.

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

No doubt this project can be very interesting for us. Relatives of people with dementia bear one of the greatest burdens of care, and many of these people are women.

ismadariaga's picture

Before that I held public office in various capacities. I was an Advisor to the Spanish Minister of Housing, and Deputy Director General of Architecture. I was during 5 years Director of the Women and Science Unit in the Cabinet of the Ministry of Research and then of the Secretary of State. I was a member of the Helsinki Group which advises the European Commission on gender in research. In these capacities, I was very active in the negotiations at the European institutions for the inclusion of gender dimensions in the EC Research Framework Program Horizon 2020. I was Chair of the Expert Group drafting the EC Structural Change Report of 2011 which sets the roadmap in Europe for the implemention of gender policies in research. I am also a co-Director of the Gendered Innovations Project which provides methods and examples to help researchers to address gender issues in scientific and technological areas. I have also been Rector’s Delegate for Gender Issues at the Technical University of Madrid. Currently I am member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Foundation Women for Africa and also of the of the European Association of Women Rectors.

Sybille Reidl's picture

And in Austria we experience, that elderly women often have a lower technical affinity due to gender-specific socialization, so we have to take care of that when designing the Training platform.

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

We have developed a set of indicators based on the theoretical framework of WHO's social determinants of health. For its selection and definition, we have used the Delphi technique with a group of experts in gender and health, nationally and internationally. The Guide is available free of charge at www.desigualdadesdegeneroensalud.org.

arroyo_lidia's picture

Dear Maria del Mar, 

Thank you very much for sharing this complet guide on gender inequalities in health. You are very welcome to upload this on GenPORT because this is a great resource and a good example that could be inspiring for other health institutes which want to incorporate the gender perspective in their activity. I would like to share with you this blog post with 10 recommended resources on Gender and Medicine that you can find already on GenPORT. 

 

 

 

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

Of course we will share this material in GenPORT

Rachel Palmén's picture

I’m Rachel Palmén and I form part of the GenPORT consortium. I’ve been mainly involved in organising the work for the GenPORT Research Syntheses and the Policy Briefs.  I am pleased to be participating in this e-discussion  with all of you.  We hope to use some of  the content of this discussion to improve the final versions of policy briefs 9-12 by incorporating some of the issues and discussions that come up. Policy Briefs 9-12 deal with Integrating the gender dimension into research content for research performing organisations.

I was wondering if anyone had a good example of how to encourage Research Performing Organisations to integrate the gender dimension?

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

In addition to selecting those dimensions of health that may be more sensitive to gender inequalities, the experts helped us to identify those determinants that might be more related to gender inequality in health

arroyo_lidia's picture

Maria del Mar, how did you achieve to integrate the gender dimension in your institute? The expert knowledge helped you to provide data about the necessity to start working in this issue? 

 

 

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

Actually the expert knowledge served us to advance in a line of work (in teaching and research) in which we have been working, specifically in the field of public health. Teaching in the Gender and Health Diploma is also a powerful tool, since the health professionals trained in this course are constituting a very important critical mass in the health system of Andalusia

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Inés, you have lots of international experience. What is your opinion about the global awareness of the importance of gender dimension in research content? Do you see big differences among countries in this area? Are researchers aware of the fact how important it is to take gender/ sex analysis in research into account? I am not convinced that the awareness of this issue is very high.

cheveigne's picture

Hi everyone, from snowy Montreal. I am Suzanne de Cheveigné, a senior researcher emerita with CNRS, normally based in Marseilles, France. I am a member of the H2020 Advisory group on Gender and I’m chairing the Interim evaluation of gender as a cross-cutting issue in H2020 – so I’m very much looking forward to this discussion. Another of my research themes is on the social dimensions of climate change and environmental issues and I’m on the H2020 Advisory Group for Climate Action, Environment and resources.

I am very interested in the way gender is integrated into areas other than health. Health is of course very important and has not always been treated properly. But it is somehow fairly "obvious". Social sciences and humanities should be "obvious" too - but gender can be surprisingly absent there. Then there are less obviuous areas, like energy or space ...

arroyo_lidia's picture

Dear all, 

I am Lidia Arroyo from the GenPORT team. I am researching on Gender, ICT & Science at IN3-UOC. 

Today we have a great occassion to put in common the strategies we can identify to integrate a gender perspective in research organisations. 

All of us comes from different countries (Slovakia, Austria, Spain, Argentina, USA) and disciplines (medicine, engineering, social sciences, climate action, public policies or transport) and all of us share the experience of incorporating a gender dimension in our research. Perhaps we can detect ways to incorporate the gender dimension in research content, specially in these disciplines were traditionally do not consider gender. How have you managed to incorporate a gender dimension in your field? 

 

katarina kostialova's picture

Thank you very much, María. It looks very interesting. Thanks for the link.
K

Sybille Reidl's picture

Hi Rachel,
maybe this can help: When I am conducting "gender in Research" seminars in our organisation, I use the following argumentation:
Why gender and other dimensions of diversity, such as age, physical impairment, or level of education, should be included in research becomes clear in the field of technology development: the development of technologies with an eye to gender and diversity leads to a stronger target-group orientation and therefore to an expansion of a product’s market segment. Product quality is improved through incorporating the perspective of gender, and products can be customised to meet the demands of different users.
Examples such as the Concept Car from Volvo, which was developed for women by a team of female engineers, also show that innovations can arise to meet the needs of a specific, formerly neglected group of users – in this case, women – while also satisfying other groups as well – in this case, men. In the case of the Concept Car, the innovations included emergency running properties and Easy Clean colour.
The examples of “gendered innovations” of the Stanford University demonstrate that considering different groups of users in the process of technology development can be profitable while also preventing losses. For example, they found that women are injured more severely and more often than men in car accidents. This was because crash-test dummies were designed to be the size of an average man’s body. The automotive industry has reacted since then and developed airbags that protect small and large passengers alike.
So all in all we can say: gender dimension in research content contribute to innovation, security and excellence of research.

But you have to take into account, that I have to convince Researchers and Managers in an Organisation that does applied Research. Maybe universities would need a different Argumentation.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Thanks for your valuable ideas. It is important to find strong and convincing arguments when talking to those who do not know much about gender dimension in research.

arroyo_lidia's picture

Dear Sybille, 

Great observations! It is very necessary that we have data and an adapted ways to approach different disciplines and oganisations.

In collaboration with Gendered Innovations from Standford University we are creating the "Gendered Innovations Archive" on GenPORT. It would be a good way to localise all the resources sent by Gendered Innovations list.

If you identify more resources related to how introduce gender perspectiva in technological industry, you are very welcome to share this on GenPORT.  

 

 

 

Sybille Reidl's picture

Hi lidia, maybe I find time to Transfer some of my documents into english, then I am glad to share them - just tell me how to share it on GenPORT.

cheveigne's picture

The first H2020 AG gender position paper on integrating gender into research content is here: http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.grou.... A new one was prepared last november and should be availible soon.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

The position paper of the H2020 AG will be a useful source. 

Irenemon's picture

Hi! I am Irene Monsonís, I work as technician in the Polibienestar Research Institute of the University of Valencia and in this role I support the management of EU Project. Additionally, I have just started my PhD on indicators to measure policies on Responsible Research and Innovation with the team of the University Politechnic of Valencia where I studied a master on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

I will not be able to join you all the session but I will try to Access later on and programme better my attendance to the next online forum.

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Glad you joined us and we will be happy if you become a egular user of the GenPORT platform.

arroyo_lidia's picture

Dear Irene, 

You are very welcome to GenPORT. Do not worry if you are not able to follow the discussion now, the e-discussion will remain open. Therefore, if you return later, you will be able to post comments. 

 

 

Rachel Palmén's picture

Thanks for sharing your arguments for including the gender dimension in to reseach content! Yes the gendered innovations project is very strong in demonstrating the very concrete benefits of integrating the gender dimension into very specific thematic areas/ disciplines. Maybe this work needs to be expanded to further thematic areas as illustrating concrete case studies through different stages of the research processs seems to be very convincing.... 

Sybille Reidl's picture

I can contribute an examples from the area of technology development – but I am talking about an example in aplied research and development and it also partly refers to physical consitions of men and women:
The project I worked on is called Pyzotex – Gender sensitive textile interface for the detection of different parameters such as pressure, temperature or humidity is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency in the Funding program FEMtech Research Projects. To consequently consider the gender dimension in this research project, it was accompanied by me as an gender expert. In this project existing sensor technologies will be transferred to textile substrates. These sensors can measure pressure, heart rate, humidity, temperature and pH-value. So for example these sensors could be put on a T-Shirt to measure physical data during sports or to be used as a fall-detection in nursing homes. The different requirements on sensor textiles men and women, elderly and young people may have were studied and design parameters for textiles were developed, based on gender and age-specific differences. Therefore we tested the textile on a sample consisting of 50% men and 50% women and 50% probands aged up to 30 years and 50% probands older than 49 years.
Pyzotex showed, that in order to be able to measure the heart rate of men and women, the sensors have to be placed at different points of a textile due to physiological differences. For women actually it would be best to integrate the sensors in a bra. So this is a sex difference, we found out by testing the sensors on men and women.
But we also conducted a survey asking the probands about their need for a sensor-t-shirt. To investigate the question of acceptance and need for a technology in our opinion is crucial from a gender point of view. We have to know who will benefit from technology development, who is interested in it and will use it in the end. Is it something we invent mainly for men, for women or for both?
And we decided also to consider age and physical build as explaining variables beside gender to avoid gender stereotyping.

Rachel Palmén's picture

Sybille, this is really very interesting. I wonder if there is anyone at the European level documenting this kind of experience i.e. how different research and innovation projects are integrating the gender dimension into cutting edge technologies......

 

Sybille Reidl's picture

for Austria I can say that the Austrian Research Promotion Agency who is funding the FEMtech Research Projects publishs Project descriptions and outcomes - I have to admit I don't know if it is only in german...

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

According to Suzanne, the need to take gender into account in health research is obvious, but it is not uncommon to find that health research projects do not include it. One of the most common mistakes is omitting gender and sex in defining and characterizing the research problems. Historically, health problems that predominantly affect women are ignored as priority health problems for research (e.g. health effects derived from informal care or the health consequences of gender-based violence). It is also common for women's health problems to be addressed in a partial and stereotyped way, with a focus on sexual-reproductive health or hormonal issues. This biological essentialisation of women's health causes other health problems and determinants that have more to do with gender to be hidden. There is often a lack of recognition of possible differences in risk factors affecting men and women (eg, in occupational health, the gendered division of labor and gender roles entail different exposure to risk factors in both sexes

ismadariaga's picture

Yes Alexandra, I agree with you. Global awareness of the importance of gender dimension in research content is relatively low in many fields of both research and policy. I see many differences between fields and also among countries, and also among parts (or regions) of the world. Researchers are overall scarcely aware of the fact of how important it is to take gender/ sex analysis in research into account. Some times policy makers are more aware than researchers. I have seen that the higher the level of the policy makers , the more sensitive they are to the issue. Also I see that some parts of the so-called developing world are more aware of let us call it "women's issues", as a result partially of the work of international organizations. Albeit this is often restricted to some areas, such as women's helath, safety, or political representation.
So awareness raising is a big issue

Alexandra Bitusikova's picture

Thanks, Inés. I also think that one of big challenges worldwide is still lack of awareness. And it is surprising how low it is among researchers themselves. Real, concrete examples help - as Suzanne and Sybille - said - if we can provide researchers, institutional leaders and policy makers real and easy to understand examples, we can raise their awareness and interest. 

cheveigne's picture

The real examples you are giving provide very useful arguments for convincing Research funding organisations - and probably RPOs too. We've seen that with the different H2020 advisory groups: giving them concrete examples of how gender can be integrated into an area that is very specific and meaningful for them really seems to work. "Gendered innovations" - that incidentally started out as a European research project - is an excellent resource: https://genderedinnovations.stanford.edu/

Sybille Reidl's picture

In a more General way I think in each discipline we have to ask ourselfs first: how does the Research we conduct affect humans - and if we can identify this link, then I would start to research whether there are already gender- or diversity-specific findings that can be relevant for the design of the research project. And I always ask questions about who will benefit from this research, or who will use the technology that we are going to develop?
Then I formulate hypothesis about the role of gender and other diversity dimensions within the research project and design how to examine these hypothesis. Mostly, it is useful to investigate the hypotheses with a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.
In a technology development project, it is important to pay attention to the diversity of the users who will use the product to be developed. Differences in the acceptance of technologies, skills in the handling of technologies and needs with regard to usability must be identified and taken into account. Therefore you have to consider several diversity dimensions when puting together the sample of test subjects and you have to think about field access, how to involve diverse people in the testing.

mariadelmar.garciacalvente's picture

It is important to consider flexible, innovative and multidisciplinary methodological approaches, valuing the relevance of using mixed designs (quantitative + qualitative). It is a very frequent mistake do not use qualitative methodologies in health research, giving priority to quantitative (positivist) approaches: sometimes the complexity of the study of the influence of gender on health is not encompassing only with numerical approaches and requires qualitative approaches or mixed methods.

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