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TAking a Reflexive approach to Gender Equality for institutional Transformation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TARGET (TAking a Reflexive approach to Gender Equality for institutional Transformation)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2019-10-31

TARGET aims to contribute to the advancement of gender equality in research and innovation (R&I) by supporting a reflexive gender equality policy in seven Gender Equality Innovating Institutions (GEIIs) in the Mediterranean basin - including three research performing organisations (RPOs), three research funding organisations (RFOs) and a network of universities. The TARGET countries have been characterised as relatively ‘inactive’ in developing gender equality policies in R&I. The widening gap between ‘proactive’ countries and ‘inactive’ countries is a worrying development – as some countries are being ‘left behind’ – which if nothing is done may have negative implications on the quality and excellence of R&I throughout Europe.
Within TARGET gender equality in R&I is defined as a three-dimensional construct which encompasses the three substantive areas defined by the European Research Area: 1) removing barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers; 2) addressing gender imbalances in decision-making processes; 3) strengthening the gender dimension in research programmes. Hence TARGET addresses three areas of intervention: (1) removing gender related institutional barriers to careers, (2) gender bias in decision-making and (3) including the gender dimension in education and research. TARGET supports GEIIs to develop the capacity for a reflexive gender equality policy focusing on these areas. GEIIs cover R&I in its broadest sense, including all disciplines encompassing both basic and applied research.
TARGET consortium is made up of ten institutions. Alongside the seven GEIIs implementing GEP/GES, three RPOs play other roles in the project, namely coordinator, supporting partner providing tailored assistance to each GEII and, finally, external evaluator of GEP/GES implementation.
During the second reporting period TARGET supported the development of a reflexive gender equality culture in GEIIs by providing:
• a space for debate, sharing experiences and mutual learning on gender equality policies in research organisations, through the organisation of the 4th Capacity Building Workshop “Reflexivity” (D2.4);
• support of GEIIs to adapt the provided tool for monitoring and self-assessment (D4.2) to the specific conditions at GEII level;
• feedback to the draft monitoring system developed by GEIIs by the evaluation team;
• tailored assistance to each institution by the supporting partner, including the organisation of the 3rd Institutional Workshop (IW3) in each GEII supporting the development of the monitoring for GEP/GES implementation (7 IWs in total);
• advice and feedback by members of the advisory board in the framework of the 4th CBW, with exchange of experiences and specific advice on the purpose and challenges of GEP/GES implementation (based on D4.2);
• a forum for monitoring of project development, dissemination activities and discussion of next steps, through the organisation of one project meeting (PM) which has been organised after the CBW4).

The implementation of TARGET in the 2nd reporting period follows the initial plan despite minor changes or deviations. All seven GEIIs released a GEP/GES by the end of the 1st reporting period or at the beginning of the 2nd reporting period. During the 2nd reporting period the focus lay on the implementation of the GEP/GES, the development of a monitoring for GEP/GES implementation as well as internal capacity building. GEIIs report experiences with GEP/GES implementation in the first monitoring and self-assessment report (D4.2). Members of the advisory board provided tailored feedback to GEIIs in CBW4 (each GEII got feedback from two members of the advisory board, followed by discussion in the plenary, see D2.4). Furthermore TARGET intensified its dissemination activities at project as well as GEII level. Regarding dissemination activities TARGET started a collaboration with “sister projects” (GEECCO and CHANGE).
The TARGET approach goes beyond the formal adoption of a gender equality policy by emphasising an iterative and reflexive process towards equality at the institutional level as well as the establishment of a community of practice (CoP) for gender equality within the institution: actual change is the result of increased institutional willingness and capacity to identify, reflect on and address gender bias in a sustained way. Starting point and anchor of the process is a tailored Gender Equality Plan or Strategy (GEP/GES) in each GEII which will be designed, implemented, monitored, self-assessed and evaluated in the course of TARGET.
The results TARGET achieved so far are promising regarding sustainable change in the seven participating GEIIs for several reasons:
• All GEIIs formulated a GEP/GES and had it approved by its governing bodies and started the implementation of the GEP/GES.
• All GEIIs reflected on the experiences regarding GEP/GES implementation in the first monitoring and self-assessment report.
• All GEIIs established a CoP which supports GEP/GES implementation. The CoPs differ regarding focus, tasks and intensity of involvement. However, all CoPs include a broad range of stakeholders.
• All GEIIs developed structures for gender equality (e.g. by employing a gender equality officer or by establishing a committee). In some institutions the supporting role has been distributed throughout the CoP according to the skills needed to carry out the specific tasks (e.g. establishment of a working group in RMEI or UH2C).
• The GEPs of RFOs introduce a gender dimension in steering mechanisms which will encourage institutional change in RPOs.
• Relevant national/regional dissemination activities started during the second reporting period to increase gender awareness and knowledge on institutional change among other RPOs and to initiate a national discourse on gender equality.
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