We interviewed Stefanie Schütte, Research & Innovation Strategy Consultant at ttopstart, about the importance of gender issues and how they should be included in grant proposals of the Horizon Europe programme.
How important are gender issues in grant proposals?
‘Gender issues in grant proposals are very important. One of the 3 levels at which gender equality is considered in Horizon Europe is the requirement of having a Gender Equality Plan (GEP). A GEP becomes an eligibility criteria for certain categories of legal entities from EU countries and associated countries. To meet these eligibility criteria, A GEP must fulfil 4 mandatory process-related requirements. The first is a publication. This is a formal document published on the institution’s website and signed by the top management. The second requirement is the commitment of dedicated resources and expertise in gender equality to implement the plan. The third requirement is the collection and monitoring of sex/gender disaggregated data on personnel and annual reporting based on indicators. The final requirement is the awareness-raising or training on gender equality and unconscious gender biases for staff and decisionmakers.’
How should gender dimensions be included in grant proposals?
‘When applying for a grant under Horizon Europe, you are invited to explore whether and how the gender dimension is relevant to your research. In the proposal template, you are asked to “describe how sex and/or gender analysis is taken into account in the project’s content”. The way sex and gender analysis are taken into account in your proposal will be assessed by the evaluators alongside the other relevant aspects of the proposal. This is even more important if you submit your proposal to a topic where gender-related issues are explicitly mentioned. Integrating the gender dimension in your research and innovation is an added value in terms of excellence, creativity, and business opportunities. It helps you question gender norms and stereotypes, to rethink standards and reference models. It leads to an in-depth understanding of both genders’ needs, behaviours and attitudes. It enhances the societal relevance of the knowledge, technologies and innovations produced. It also contributes to the production of goods and services better suited to potential markets.’
Can you tell us something about the gender equality plan of EU?
‘With Horizon Europe, the Commission reaffirms its commitment to gender equality in research and innovation. The legal base sets gender equality as a crosscutting priority and introduces strengthened provisions. In particular, integrating the gender dimension into research and innovation content is a requirement. Gender equality plans will also gradually become part of the eligibility criteria for public bodies, research organisations and higher education establishments applying to the programme. Specific funding will be dedicated to gender and intersectional research, developing inclusive gender equality policies in support of the new European Research Area, and empowering women innovators. The goal is to improve the European research and innovation system, create gender-equal working environments where all talents can thrive and better integrate the gender dimension in projects to improve research quality as well as the relevance to society of the knowledge, technologies and innovations produced.’
What other tips do you have about funding & equality?
‘Regardless of the gender aspects, I always recommend having a strategic funding roadmap in place. You need to start with the end in mind. What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Scanning in advance for future grants allow you to decide which ones are the most aligned with your long-term goals. Having a funding strategy in place gives room to consciously design how calls can build upon other previous and ongoing projects, ensure sustainability of research outcomes, infrastructures, and consortia. In this way, you will ensure working towards realizing the expected impact. When you plan your research within the Health Cluster of Horizon Europe, make sure that the different ways in which societal changes affect men and women are well addressed. Include this gender dimension systematically in your plans (1. GEP 2. Gender dimension in R&I content and 3. Gender balance of the team). The expert evaluators review these 3 gender criteria in a very strict manner. It will also be used as a ranking criteria for ex aequo proposals. This refers in particular to the gender balance among personnel named in the proposal who will be primarily responsible for carrying out the research and innovation activities. That means for instance when two proposals have the same score, the proposal that has a better gender balance will be retained for funding.’
“When you plan your research within the Health Cluster of Horizon Europe, make sure that the different ways in which societal changes affect men and women are well addressed. Include this gender dimension systematically in your plans. The expert evaluators review the 3 gender criteria in a very strict manner. It will also be used as a ranking criteria for ex aequo proposals.”
– STEFANIE SCHÜTTE, PhD –CONSULTANT AT TTOPSTART