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Systemic Action for Gender Equality

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SAGE (Systemic Action for Gender Equality)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-08-31

Increasing the participation of women in research, and promoting gender equality, is vital in strengthening the competitiveness of European research. A greater involvement of women in research will contribute not only to an increased number of skilled researchers in our institutions but will also add a different perspective to research programmes, promote diversity, improve decision-making and contribute to enhanced creativity and innovation. This view informed the focus of the SAGE high-level consortium, who have worked together to introduce and develop gender-sensitive organisational cultures and practices in their respective universities, thus effecting a sustainable and systemic structural change in how those institutions function.
Universities have a fundamental role in addressing gender imbalances and growing equality by ensuring that the recruitment of talent and achievement of research excellence, coexist with social awareness and responsibility.
Through its activities, SAGE (Systemic Action for Gender Equality) sought stronger action on gender equality in higher education and research. The SAGE consortium devised and implemented interventions to advance gender equality in seven universities, and has developed a proven model that can be implemented throughout the European research sector and beyond.
SAGE was designed using the concepts and methodology of structural change to deliver a more equitable research landscape. The composition of the consortium has facilitated the transfer of learning, thus increasing the efficacy of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) and their capacity to deliver greater gender balance and gender awareness in research and decision making.

The 3 macro objectives were to:
1. remove barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers;
2. address gender imbalances in decision-making processes;
3. strengthen the gender dimension in research programmes.

The 5 micro objectives were to:
1. build upon the body of knowledge and experience gained from INTEGER FP7 Project, to orchestrate structural change leading to the improved career progression of women researchers through robust impact assessments of procedures and practices;
2. diffuse the knowledge and experience into further EU research and innovation organisations, in particular implementing innovative strategies to address gender bias;
3. provide a testing ground for building and adapting GEPs through setting targets and monitoring progress via indicators;
4. ensure comprehensive and wide-reaching diffusion and exploitation of the SAGE concepts to RPOs and RFOs to support their implementation of gender equality plans;
5. create strong and sustained engagement of the academic and student communities in partner institutions through their involvement in the process of implementing GEPs, along with evaluation and dissemination of the SAGE concepts and GEPs to stakeholders and the general public.

A SAGE Charter of Principles for Gender Equality was launched in Brussels in July 2019, for adoption by RPOs and RFOs across Europe to advance towards gender-balanced research. Key SAGE outputs were designed and produced to support the development of in-house capacity within peer institutions throughout the research sector via the SAGE Wheel Model for Gender Equality Plans, SAGE Online Course and SAGE Toolkit. These resources are all available for widespread use via the SAGE website: http://www.sage-growingequality.eu.

SAGE Day events were held in partner countries and in Brussels to spread the SAGE message and showcase the tools available. Attendees were presented with and invited to wear a SAGE Pin to signify visible support for GEPs and for gender equality in higher education and research generally.

Through these activities, SAGE partners have produced a suite of customizable tools, initiatives and methodologies (including Change Management Models and Key Performance Indicators) that can be tailored and adopted in Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) and Research Funding Organisations (RFOs) throughout Europe, thus ensuring wide-reaching systemic change.
The first period of the project was devoted mainly to establishing and consolidating the peer mentoring that allows partners to share experiences and exchange knowledge in the implementation phases of their adapted GEPs. The mentoring was ensured by the coordinating and evaluating partners as well as an Advisory Board, comprised of international leaders in the field.

During the second period, the focus was on implementation of GEPs to ensure lasting structural change for gender equality, as well as on developing the key impacts and outputs that now form the SAGE legacy. These lasting outputs include:
- SAGE online course: widely and publicly available online for anyone embarking on gender equality initiatives in academia and research. The course components include online sessions on tackling unconscious bias, change management for gender equality, and incorporating gender in research design
- SAGE Charter of Principles for Gender Equality: Universities across Europe have begun signing up to and endorsing the SAGE Charter, which contains 12 principles to advance gender equality within RFOs and RPOs.
- SAGE Wheel Toolkit: an online set of resources for the creation and implementation of Gender Equality Plans, following the SAGE model.

A programme of outreach activities has been conducted to disseminate the project activities and results, including via participation and presentations in meetings with the scientific community, with policy makers etc, conference presentations, and the organisation of national SAGE Day events and a transnational SAGE Day in Brussels in July 2019. The general public has also been reached through coverage in local and national newspapers, magazines and websites.
Despite clear commitment in the ERA objectives to achieving gender equality in research, and the call on Member States to do so, there remains no existing EU-wide mechanism by which to achieve gender equality in research. The SAGE model was designed to address this deficit and in so doing to deliver a major impact on the research landscape.
The overall proportion of women in key research leadership positions remains low. SAGE provides the mechanism by which to attain a critical mass of universities and research institutions in Europe implementing long-term institutional change through the creation and diffusion of an innovative model and diagnostic toolkit for the pursuit of gender equality in research organisations throughout Europe
The impact of SAGE is thus felt by the direct actors (university partners) involved, at the individual and organisational level, and resulting in enhanced capacity built through this process. The SAGE Wheel Model for Gender Equality Plans, coupled with specially-designed measurement tools, and a SAGE Charter of Principles for Gender Equality, represent significant progress beyond the state of the art, and comprise a packaged model that can now be adapted and used by RPOs across Europe to advance towards a reality for European research that is gender balanced.