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CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CHANGE (CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-10-31

Drawing on valuable previous studies, which identified gender in-equalities and barriers for women’s careers in science and research, the implementation project CHANGE – ‘CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research’ pursues improving gender equality in science and research since 2018. By using a co-creation approach, which includes relevant stakeholders from the beginning, and develops customized gender equality plans (GEPs) and actions for research performing organisations (RPOs) and research funding organisations (RFOs) CHANGE addresses existing knowledge-to-action- respectively research-to-practice-gaps as well as hindering politics of feminist knowledge transfer. CHANGE used existing knowledge and tools from sister projects, but co-produced context-specific knowledge within the implementing organisations, acknowledging real-life problems of those academic and research organisations. Transfer agents (TAs) – allies in the GEP implementing organisations in strategically important positions (head of departments, gender equality officers, etc.) – are in the CHANGE team since the beginning and help to put this co-created knowledge into practice.
At the given point in time CHANGE is in its second project year. As a basis for the mentioned tailor-made GEPs, all implementing partners conducted an exploration of the current state of the art by doing institutional gender benchmarking in order to analyse the situation of women and structural barriers in their organisations. TAs were very important at this point as they helped to get access to data and use qualitative and quantitative methods to gain an overview on existing gender discrimination in the implementing RPOs of CHANGE. In addition, the most important decision making processes and bodies in the organisations were analysed in regard to their gender composition. This gender benchmarking provided also a baseline for evaluating the impact of CHANGE.
With quick actions each institution could start the GEP implementation very fast and send out the message that CHANGE is a project, which actually and effectively supports employees, and especially women and diverse people in minority position. For instance, awareness raising seminars and gender trainings were organised, brown bag meetings were introduced, surveys were launched, and informal gatherings were initiated.
TAs helped the CHANGE project teams to further develop middle- and long-term measures, which are important for the respective RPOs to improve gender equality and women’s careers. The implementation of these middle- and long-term actions was started only recently, and related activities are at still at an early stage.
Besides various sister project networking and knowledge exchange activities on a European and also national level (for instance to use project synergies in developing gender equality strategies for RFOs in specific countries), CHANGE started establishing Communities of Practice (CoPs) in Austria, Germany, Israel, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia. Through expert interviews with high level stakeholders in RFOs and ministries, an important first step has been made, not only to research national research funding and its gender (in)equality issues, but also to build trustful relationships, which is the basis of good working CoPs, By connecting and co-creating knowledge with relevant key players and practitioners in the field of gender equality in science and research, those CoPs and their transferred gender equality knowledge will be one of the sustainable project outputs.
As knowledge co-production and mutual learning is an essential issue within CHANGE, three knowledge co-production workshops were implemented within consortium meetings in the second project period, which involved the CHANGE team in knowledge exchange activities. Two of these workshops engaged also members from the CHANGE International Advisory Board, and the CHANGE TAs to discuss the results from gender benchmarking and to plan further activities for the GEPs. At one meeting an external RFO expert gave insights on how gender can be included in research funding programmes.
The CHANGÈ team was very active implementing a magnitude of various dissemination and communication activities, which reached from stakeholder meetings to joint workshops with EC-funded sister projects to various conferences and workshops with relevant actors from RPOs, RFOs and national ministries to reaching the wider public via social media campaigns, teaching courses and a radio programme. Relevant stakeholders have been addressed according to a strategic communication plan and updated stakeholder mappings. The additional focus in this second project year was to include RFOs and address strategically important actors from research funding and science policy from all six participating countries.
The main aim of CHANGE to support RPOs to design and implement GEPs has been achieved by involving TAs from each partner organisation. TAs helped gaining access to data and people from within the RPOs, but also beyond, for instance in RFOs and from science policy. Furthermore, TAs will help the CHANGE project teams to sustainably institutionalise the GEPs beyond the project duration.
By using the window of opportunity of the European Commission’s plans to include GEPs in Horizon Europe, the knowledge and methods of CHANGE organisations can be transferred – via the co-creation method – to other RPOs and RFOs within the established CoPs. Thus CHANGE partners are on their way becoming resource centres skilled to provide gender equality knowledge and expertise within their countries. With this co-production of knowledge approach and by building the CoPs among RPOs in each participating region, support and mentorship structures will be established. Regular inclusion and exchange with national and European stakeholders will ensure a spill-over effect of CHANGE methods and results to other RPOs and RFOs as well as with other ministries in the whole European area and beyond.
Besides implemented GEPs in RPOs, established gender equality CoPs, CHANGE will produce policy papers based on co-creating gender equality strategies for science and research with actual policy makers and relevant stakeholders from RFOs and RPOs, to ensure the papers practicability. Thereby the project will contribute to closing the research-to-action- respectively the theory-to-practice-gap. With these co-produced policy papers, CHANGE directly aims at strengthening the relevance of gender-inclusive research and innovation programmes, and in consequence works towards a structural change in science and research. By stimulating institutional cultural change towards gender equal work environments in RPOs and RFOs, CHANGE contributes to this needed structural change towards gender equality in the European Research Area.
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