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GRant AllocatioN Disparities from a gender perspective

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - GRANteD (GRant AllocatioN Disparities from a gender perspective)

Reporting period: 2022-01-01 to 2023-10-31

GRANteD is a research project that analyses potential gender bias in the allocations of research grants from a gender perspective. As competitive funding and research grants play an increasing role for building a research career, a (gender) fair allocation of these grants is crucial for equal opportunities of men and women in science. The GRANteD project contributes to a gender-fair research funding system by identifying factors that cause gender imbalances before, during and after the submission of research grants. Empirical evidence is provided on where gender bias occurs, on (institutional) causes of gender bias and on its impact on research careers. Based on the empirical evidence, tailored recommendations are developed for different stakeholders to avoid or mitigate gender bias in grant allocation and related processes and practices.

The main conclusions of the GRANteD project are ...
a) larger data sets are needed to analyse gender bias in grant allocation processes in more detail and to be able to come to statistical significant results. There is also a need that different types of grants are investigated beyond individual career grants. It will be also important to include data from RFOs in widening countries.
b) that gender equality policies have been implemented in some research funding agencies for many years which has contributed to a policy mix mitigating several gender bias risk areas. Whereas in other RFOs such policies do not exist yet.
c) Implementation of gender equality policies is often inhibited by a lack of knowledge and awareness by reviewers and panelists who are asked to consider these policies in their reviews.
d) Gender bias in grant allocation has not disappeared although some results point into the direction that it has diminished over time. But gender bias and gender disparities in the research system is still prevalent and specific actions are needed to tackle these inequalities.
The GRANteD project has analysed data from various case studies and datasets to investigate whether gender disparities in grant application behaviour do exist and whether grant assessments disadvantage women or men.

Firstly, the case studies include a variety of different career grants, explanatory factors, and analytical approaches, but in terms of gender bias the results indicate a trend towards more neutral results. In contrast, the analysis of gender bias in the doctorate thesis cum laude award in the Netherlands demonstrates that males have a significant advantage over women in this extremely selective acknowledgment of receiving a PhD thesis that is evaluated through a controlled process but without formalised criteria. According to the Dutch career study, which was carried out in the GRANteD project, women leave the scientific system more frequently and sooner than men do, and they become full professors later and less frequently than men do which implies that gender prejudice in the hiring processes are still prevalent.

Secondly, in terms of the application activity of female and male researchers, the results of a survey among German researchers indicate more equal results. Women applicants seem to submit the same amount of research proposals if accounted for differences in terms of position and scientific fields. These results also imply that, when it comes to grant applications, there doesn't appear to be a gender difference in self-confidence, risk avoidance and avoiding competitive situations.

Thirdly, there are also hardly any gender disparities among grant applicants when it comes to engagement in academic housework, past performance or feelings of belonging to research groups as would have been expected from the literature on gender disparities among research staff (D7.1). The main gender differences are related to the engagement in care responsibilities and in career support received from a mentor where female applicants report less support than their male colleagues.

Fourthly, these findings suggest that policies or other actions undertaken in the various investigated grants and in the science system have been successful in equalizing the chances of women and men. For instance in some cases explicit policies focussing on gender equal outcomes of the assessment processes were implemented which clearly contributed to these gender equal results. The GRANteD project has investigated the wide set of gender bias related risk factors and how to address them with specific gender equality policies. Nevertheless, it remains to be evaluated in detail how these policies and instruments have affected the grant assessment result like panel scores or grant decisions.

Fifthly, the conflict between the creation of policies and their implementation in practice is demonstrated by the qualitative case studies. In terms of policy implementation, the interviews and observations indicate that panellists and other participants are not always following the newly implemented rules and procedures as they do not see benefits or as they do not possess the necessary knowledge and awareness.

Although there are some hints that the situation is improving, there is also clear evidence that mechanisms like gender stereotyping are still influencing assessment processes to the disadvantages of women. Therefore, it is necessary to continue efforts to monitor the applications and grant selection processes in terms of application and success rates of gender and controlling for relevant evaluation criteria and to relate these results to procedural, organizational, and policy changes.

The results of the GRANteD project are available in public deliverables as well as in scholarly open access publications on the GRANteD website. The presentations of the final GRANteD stakeholder conference can be watched also on the website and the presented slides can be downloaded there: https://www.granted-project.eu/conference-recording/

The main conclusions and policy implications are summarized in two policy briefs: https://www.granted-project.eu/policy-briefs/
The impact of the GRANteD project is visible on several levels:
1) The project has published and will continue to publish results on gender equality in research funding in scholarly journals. Some of them have already received a lot of attention.
2) The project has produced an extensive literature review and a conceptual model for assessing gender inequalities and bias in research funding which can be used by future research in this area.
3) A new dimension when studying gender bias in grant assessments and decisions, is to put more attention and awareness on the topic of assessing and evaluating the gender dimension in research content which GRANteD has focused on in serveral deliverables. This points out the relevance of precise policy design and making sure that formal policies are implemented properly.
4) Throughout the project the GRANteD consortium has worked with RFOs on ways to advance the gender equality agenda in research funding organisations and has integrated the knowledge and learnings from GRANteD into other relevant projects and contexts like the GenderactionPlus Project, DORA, CoARA among others.
5) The GRANteD core-RFOs have received targeted recommendations to improve their application and assessment procedures and policies in terms of gender equality and have been exchanging experiences and learning in a stakeholder committee which worked similar to a community of practice.
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