Letter from the Coordinator

With great pleasure, we introduce you to the first series of articles from the R&I PEERS project.

The goal of the R&I PEERS project is to create and validate pilot experiences that disrupt gender-biased approaches and unconscious rules which limit careers for women and their participation in Research and Innovation.
These articles comes at a crucial stage for the project, as results from the first months of work are emerging, while the ground is being laid for the next stage of the project, which will see the implementation and improvement of GEPs, in the seven (7) pilot organisation involved in the project, leading up the validation of the strategies proposed by R&I PEERS advisory board and other stakeholders.

Among these articles, you will have the opportunity to read about the results of the analysis made in the pilot organisations to obtain information on the framework variables (cultural, legislative, political, economic) which may affect the gender issues in research. This article provides an insight into the principles inspiring the GEPs definition, highlighting the importance of setting the proposal emerging into a relevant institutional environment.

The results of the first Mutual Learning workshop, held in Rome (Italy) on 7 November are detailed in the article “Mutual Learning Workshop in Rome”. This workshop has brought together fifteen (15) experts from the gender equality field representing universities, governmental and scientific bodies as well as enterprises to discuss the existing practices in the gender equality sphere. This first project workshop has been appreciated by all attendees and we consider it a successful experience!

To conclude, I would like to highlight that this first article come on the heels of the international week for the Elimination of Violence against Women, celebrated  19-25 November. The aim of that international initiative is to emphasise the importance of the respect to the woman that we consider, as R&I PEERS consortium, a key point to promote a concept of gender equality that can best be expressed as “women and men enjoy the same status and have equal opportunity to realize their full human potential to contribute to political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit fully from the results”.

I hope these articles will stimulate your interest in R&I PEERS!

Now let’s get started!

Maria Rosaria Pelizzari
R&I PEERS project coordinator

Mutual Learning Workshop in Rome

On 7 November 2018, the first Mutual Learning Workshop of the R&I PEERS project, entitled “Towards the identification of best practices in the Gender Equality Arena within an organisation,” was organised in Rome in collaboration between the R&I PEERS partners Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute (CNTI), and CIC nanoGUNE.

The workshop, which was realised using the participatory methodology of the Structured Democratic Dialogue (SDD), brought together fifteen (15) experts from the gender equality field representing universities, governmental and scientific bodies as well as enterprises to discuss the existing practices in the gender equality sphere which can be utilised for the development and implementation of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) by the R&I PEERS consortium.

  • The main conclusions of the workshop were the following:
  • Necessity to exploit the already collected administrative data which must be updated on an annual base in order to have a comprehensive recording of the institutional situation in terms of the different areas of the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) implementation as well as allow the GEP team to promptly propose additional measures to reflect to the new situation;
  • Introduction of basic gender curricula in STEM in academic institutions;
  • Research evaluation committees in recruitment procedures should be composed by both male and female evaluators in order to avoid unconscious barriers related to the gender of the candidates;
  • Gender Equality should not be treated as an issue concerning only women but also men and for this reason, steps towards the active engagement of men in Gender Equality Committees is pivotal.

The results of the workshop will feed the second Mutual Learning Workshop which is scheduled to take place on November 2019 in Slovenia.

Figure 1 Map of influences for the Rome Mutual Learning Workshop

Main Drivers for GEP Implementation – An Overview

The activities performed in the R&I PEERS project’s Work Package 3 aimed at defining main drivers for Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) to be implemented in each of the seven piloting partner organisations. The work has been completed as a three-step process, as presented in the graph above.

First, targets preliminarily defined for each GEP were aligned with national (cultural, legislative, political, economic) contexts of each piloting organisation. The analysis performed has shown that, despite significant differences among piloting partner organisations (in nature of their work, status, size), there is a notable convergence in GEP target areas defined. The graph bellow shows seven main target areas that are shared by most of the piloting partners.

Most of the GEP target areas result from detecting a gap – between what is prescribed by legislation and what exists in practice (as a consequence of unequal access, prevalent stereotypes, institutional cultures, etc.), between what countries commit to with regard to gender equality in policy documents and resolutions, and what they really do to fulfil their commitments.

In the second step, to improve preliminary GEPs, the survey has been conducted in all piloting partner organisations. This way, the employees’ perspectives have been considered in redefining GEP targets. For each GEP, the strategies have been proposed to either provide additional evidence for justification of planned measures, or to entail a sustainable structural change.

Finally, in the third step, the tools for collecting gender relevant data for both planning and monitoring the implementation of GEPs have been provided to the piloting partners. The first tool offers a framework to collect sex-disaggregated data from secondary sources, such as administrative databases and human resources information systems. The second tool proposes a translation of the 7 preidentified target areas into empirical measures, and links these measures to the indicators to assess their impact.

Through activities performed in the framework of WP3, R&I PEERS consortium has set the foundation for definition and successful implementation of GEPs in seven piloting partner organisations.

Tanja Petrović

Gender Equality Best Practices

Today, the R&I PEERS project released Deliverable 6.2 of the project, a report on gender equality best practices that aims at identifying best practices related to gender equality in research organisations, targeting all types of functions and stages of a research career, from starting to management and decision-level.

The review has  focused on practices functional to the R&I PEERS project, in order to be useful for the R&I PEERS piloting organisations to improve their organisational policies and adequate better their strategies for achieving gender balance.

The findings have been clustered and collected following the taxonomy of strategies and indicators identified in previous reports, D3.2 and D3.3, respectively. The present research has also been built around the concrete targets and preliminary priorities identified by our piloting partners, which were collected extensively in Deliverable 3.1 “Analysis of Country Guidelines”, and briefly compiled below:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Mentoring
  3. Gender dimension in research and curricula
  4. Gender balance within the organisation (in committees, research teams, job offering and recruitment panels, decision-making bodies, high management teams)
  5. Gender sensitive language in organisation’s documents
  6. Female researchers’/staff career and excellence (and career progression)
  7. Raising awareness of gender equality within organisations

These seven preliminary priorities have been taken into full consideration in the selection and analysis of the existing practices and gender policies.

For more information about this and other R&I PEERS reports, please visit here or contact the R&I PEERS project coordinator.

Indicators for Monitoring GEPs

Today, the R&I PEERS project released Deliverable 3.3 of the project, a report that aims at “making operative” the activities undertaken in previous stages of the project. In particular, the report provides R&I PEERS piloting partners with two tools aimed at collecting gender relevant data for both planning and monitoring the implementation of their customised Gender Equality Plans (GEPs), i.e. their specific institutional targets and strategies. The two proposed tools are:

  1. The “Template for data Collection” which is a methodology for data collection; and
  2. The “R&I PEERS Fields of Actions and Indicators”, which are gender equality indicators and measures.

The definition of a sounding methodology, to design and implement GEPs based on evidences from institutional data, along with the adoption of a strong set of indicators, to monitor the implemented measures and their impacts, have been acknowledged by EIGE as crucial elements to ensure gender equality in academic and higher education organisations, as well as research performing and research funding organisations (EIGE, 2016A). As the piloting organisations taking part in the R&I PEERS project are of that nature, the methods and tools proposed in this report are aligned with those recommended by EIGE.

This report has been written as a tool to aid our piloting partners in their task of achieving the three main targets of ERA (European Research Area) stated in the EC’s document Guidance, i.e. facilitating the implementation of targets to promote gender equality in research and innovation. The overarching targets are: Equality in scientific careers, gender balance in decision-making bodies and positions, and gender dimension in research & innovation content. Based on these three overarching targets, the R&I project piloting partners have built a list of more concrete targets or preliminary priorities which have been outlined in Deliverable 3.1 “Analysis of Country Guidelines” and are also compiled below:

  1. Raising awareness of gender equality within organisations
  2. Gender dimension in research and curricula
  3. Gender balance (in committees, research teams, job recruitment panels, and career progression)
  4. Work-life balance
  5. Mentoring
  6. Gender sensitive language in organisation’s documents
  7. Female researchers’/staff career and excellence

These seven preliminary priorities have been taken into full consideration in the design of the two tools presented in this report and further introduced below.

Two tools for data collection

Methodology: “Template for data Collection”
The methodology proposed in this report, the “Template for data Collection”, is a framework to collect sex-disaggregated data from secondary sources, such as administrative databases and human resources department information systems, about the following “field of action” within our piloting organisations: Demographics, education and qualification, career path, work organisation and research outputs. For each “field of action” a number of variables are proposed along with descriptions, examples and relevant classifications.

This tool is intended to be used by our piloting organisations as a reference to measure the different dimensions of gender equality in their respective academic and higher education organisations, research performing organisations and research funding organisations. This tool has also been conceived as a baseline to develop GEPs. In particular the “Template for data Collection” serves to collect sex-disaggregated data for what EIGE defines the “Diagnosis Phase” or the characterisation of the current status regarding gender equality in the GEP development process within an organisation.

Indicators and measures: “R&I PEERS Fields of Actions and Indicators”
The “R&I PEERS Fields of Actions and Indicators” tool proposes a translation of the seven identified gender equality target areas (see list § 2.1) by piloting organisations into empirical measures, and link those to a subsequent list of indicators to state their impact.

Moreover, for each of the seven preidentified target areas, a number of specific dimensions are also defined. Those dimensions are, in turn, linked with the data collection methods suggested by the “Template for data collection” tool to harvest the relevant data within the organisation, and with a plausible list of indicators and measures to be implemented to make GEPs effective. To ease the reading and the use of the “R&I PEERS Fields of Actions and Indicators”, each target area is visualised in a diagram that also presents the corresponding dimensions and the relative indicators schematically (see § 7).

Further resources
Along with the two main tools described above, the report offers an outlook on the use of statistical indicators in the evaluation of policies for human resources in science and technology. In addition, a review of existing tools to target gender equality, most of which were produced in the framework of other EU-funded projects, is provided with direct links to relevant information in order to valorise the knowledge produced by those projects, exploit their results and facilitate and enrich the activities of the R&I PEERS Consortium.

Furthermore, to be further inspired and learn from others’ experiences, a number of concrete examples of measures already in place in EU academic and higher education organisations, RPOs and RFOs is also presented. Each experience is briefly described, and the relative web link is provided to facilitate obtaining further information and reference.

Finally, the report presents an additional resource section along with the reference of resources cited in the text.

For more information about this and other R&I PEERS reports, please visit here or contact the R&I PEERS project coordinator.

Strategies for Gender Equality

Today, the R&I PEERS project released Deliverable 3.2 of the project, a report that aims at proposing potential and concrete strategies and actions for the preliminary customised Gender Equality Plans’ target areas predefined by each piloting partners. The strategies are proposed after the following two studies:

  1. A critical analysis of the work carried out on deliverable D3.1 Analysis of Country Guidelines by each piloting organisation ; and
  2. The collection, analysis and integration of employees views, perceptions and needs, harvested through an anonymous online questionnaire at each piloting organisation.

The strategies and actions proposed should be considered carefully by piloting partners and assessed according to their feasibility and correspondence to the actual needs of their organisation members. 
Preliminary target areas defined in D3.1 for each piloting organisation were aligned with survey results in order to assess their relevance for employees. Most of preliminary target areas were found relevant by survey respondents in piloting organisations. Within these target areas, some specific measures were pointed out as highly relevant by survey responses. These specific measures or actions have been included into proposals of strategies for each partner. For several piloting partner organisations, the survey has shown that employees identified as relevant additional target areas that had not been considered in the preliminary definitions of GEPs for D3.1.

These target areas are added to the existing ones, and specific strategies have been proposed for each. 
This report proposes lists of strategies for each piloting organisation GEP, organised under GEP target areas. The proposed strategies are either survey oriented, aiming at providing additional evidence for justification of planned measures, or sustainability oriented, resulting in a sustainable structural change. Sustainability oriented strategies usually mobilise various stake-holders and result in competence development and improving status quo.

This report also brings suggestions for strategies for innovation actions to improve GEP implementation, as well as a list of references to existing tools, experiences from already completed projects and insights from different institutional and national contexts for all GEP target areas and accompanying strategies.

For more information about this and other R&I PEERS reports, please visit here or contact the R&I PEERS project coordinator.

Country Guidelines on Gender Equality

Today, the R&I PEERS project released Deliverable 3.1 of the project, a report that provides an analysis of the framework variables (cultural, legislative, political, economic) in project partner countries (Italy, Spain, Israel, Cyprus, Slovenia, Tunisia, and Greece)  that may affect gender equality-related issues in piloting organisations, and that evaluates each research-performing and research-funding organisation piloting GEPs against national and ERA guidelines.

In the report, the GEP target areas defined by piloting partners address several national framework variables – legislative, cultural, economic, and political ones, covering the following broader fields:

  1. Mentoring
  2. Female researchers’ staff career and excellence
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Gender balance in committees, researchers, job offering and recruitment
  5. Gender dimension in research and curricula
  6. Improving use of gender-sensitive language in organization’s documents
  7. Raising awareness of gender equality within the organisation

Most of the GEP target areas result from detecting a gap – between what is prescribed by legislation and what exists in practice (as a consequence of unequal access, prevalent stereotypes, institutional cultures, etc.), and between what countries commit to with regard to gender equality in policy documents and resolutions and what they really do in order to fulfil their commitments. 
Target areas defined for each GEP also address gender equality related issues and discrepancies that easily escape legislative regulations – practices stemming from organisational cultures, differences in professional behaviour of women and men, hidden forms of sexism and harassment, etc.

Finally, several target areas in piloting organisations’ GEPs aim at making a step forward from what is prescribed in the existing legislature, taking into account issues recognised by research community and civil society members, as well as at responding to the needs of employees of piloting RPOs and RFOs.
Recommendations outlined in the European Research Area Guidelines to promote gender equality in research and innovation are generally relevant for the piloting organisations and for the definition of their GEP target areas. They either help achieving goals set in the GEP target areas or point towards gaps which tend to occur between adopted policies to promote gender equality measures, and the lack of implementation of such measures in practice.

For more information about this and other R&I PEERS reports, please visit here or contact the R&I PEERS project coordinator.

R&I Peers Project Launches

The R&I Peers project, a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission whose mission is providing “pilot experiences for improving gender equality in research organisations”, launched with consortium partner meetings in Salerno, Italy on 24-25 May 2018.