Event review: Gender Equality Plans Development: Fulfilling the Horizon Europe requirements and beyond! July 2, 2021

This event, which is also the first WBC-RRI.NET event, discussed how to support gender equality in the regional research and innovation ecosystem.

Jul 19, 2021

This event discussed how to support gender equality in the regional research and innovation ecosystem.

Who attended the event?

The project attracted 85 participants from the Western Balkans as well as beyond.

Mr. Goran Stojanovic, coordinator of the WBC-RRI.NET project, after welcoming participants stressed that formal requirement from Horizon Europe is that Gender Equality Plan (GEP) should be developed at public institutions. Also his organization, University of Novi Sad, is well aware of this fact and has started a process to develop a GEP.

What happened at the event?

Presentations followed the agenda. Below we highlight some key points addressed:

Setting the scene: Gender dimension in R&I landscape

Strategic approaches and challenges, Maria Sangiuliano, Smart Venice

– Gender-blind and gender biased research.

– From fixing women to fixing institutions: European promoting gender equality in research.

– Most recent trends in gendering the ERA.

Statistics available, Eugenia Vilarchao, European Science Foundation

– Leaky pipeline: A metaphor for the sharp drop in the number of women scientists getting a research position.

Setting the scene: The situation in the Western Balkans

The case of North Macedonia, Arafat Shabani, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of North Macedonia

– Basic and applied science, research and development, innovation and product development make a difference in creating new jobs and equal opportunities for all, building a better society.

– Reforms in the higher education system in Republic of North Macedonia are ongoing.

– According to the recently launched UNESCO statistics reports from 2020, Republic of North Macedonia with 53% female researchers is the leader in Europe.

Women in STEM. Perspective from the Regional Cooperation Council, Siniša Marčić, Regional Cooperation Council

– STEM fields tend to perpetuate inflexible, exclusionary, male-dominated cultures that are not supportive of nor attractive to women.

– More young women are indeed STEM students and graduates in the WB than in many EU countries.

– Yet an additional focus on increasing the share of girls & women in STEM, particularly in computer sciences and engineering is still required.

Overview Gender Equality in Horizon Europe, Athanasia Moungou, EC

– Gender equality: a strengthened crosscutting priority in Horizon Europe

● Gender Equality Plans are an eligibility criterion for the programme as of 2022.

● Gender balance in research teams is a ranking criterion.

● Integration of gender dimension to R&D (intersectionality!) is an award criterion (requirement across the programme).

– Gender equality through institutional change remains a priority of the European Research Area and the Framework Programmes.

Gender Equality Plans

Developing an Institutional Gender Equality Plan at the University of Rijeka, Daria Glavan Šćulac

  • GEP development at the UNIRI included analyses, support structure.
  • Figures are positive but need to be interpreted and areas to improve are identified.
  • GEP 2021 – 2025 contains 4 strategic areas, 20 goals, 20 indicators, 78 measures.

The TeRRItoria example, George Eleftherakis

  • A territorial GEP for the R&I organizations of the Region of Central Macedonia (Greece) was developed.
  • Developed after collecting data from: 1) a mapping of EU and national gender related landscapes; 2) the mapping of the regional R&I system; 3) the co-creation (co-design) meetings with regional quadruple helix stakeholders.

GEP at the University of Banja Luka (UNIBL), Anđela Pepić

  • UNIBL set up a “task force” for GEP audit and development and obtained funding from the Ministry of Civil Affairs of B&H through a grant (support to ongoing Horizon 2020 project WBC-RRI.NET)
  • It was very useful to explore the landscape and useful examples/tools (GEAR, SAGE, PLOTINA).

Integration of gender dimension in R&D, Dalibor Drljača, Health RTD

Examples from GENDERACTION project and policy briefs

  • The project (GENDer equality in the ERA Community To Innovate policy implementation) is an important source for the exchange on policy development and includes B&H.
  • Key concepts to include the gender dimension in R&D are outlined and the publication “Gendered Innovations: How inclusive analysis contributes to research and innovation” is recommended.

Lastly, an upcoming call (in 2022) was highlighted that supports GEP implementation.

After the presentations, a discussion followed highlighting the following aspects:

  • WBC-RRI.NET aims to establish a working group on gender and ethics after the summer and aims to co-create its work plan with an interested wider network. Elke Dall (ZSI) and Andjela Pepic (UNIBL) are responsible for this process in the WBC-RRI.NET project.
  • A few suggestions were presented by the participants, such as to involve organizations on country level, e.g. national and thematic organisations relevant for gender equality – e.g. the International Mathematical Union, European Women in Math https://www.europeanwomeninmaths.org/, Committee for Women in Mathematics (CWM), Gender Gap in Science.
  • In order to address the most challenging aspect of implementing the Gender Equality Plan, an exchange is important in relation to the involvement of decision-makers, e.g. rectorate, especially at the Balkans where still a patriarchal way of thinking might dominate.
  • Secondly, good practices could be exchanged as how to get employees on board in terms of support and actions and a neutral conduction of the necessary background research, interviews etc. (e.g. UNIRI conducted the survey engaging in-house consultant and developed their own tool, with questions adapted for their circumstances).
  • The importance of gender sensitive language was stressed and the absence of gender fair language is mostly absent from institutional communications.
  • It was also emphasized that if a huge majority in some areas are female there is also obvious gender segregation in research fields. Good practices, e.g. from North Macedonia (including the involvement of women in IT and the STEM sector at top level positions) can be further shared.

The results from this information session and workshop will feed into the next steps of the WBC-RRI.NET project.

Recording from the public session

This article was prepared by Dragana Radulovic (UNIBL), Elke Dall (ZSI) and Andjela Pepic (UNIBL).