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Certification-Award Systems to Promote gender Equality in Research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CASPER (Certification-Award Systems to Promote gender Equality in Research)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2022-03-31

CASPER aimed to examine the feasibility of establishing a Europe-wide certification/award system (CAS) for gender equality. Over the past decade, several CAS were created in the European research landscape. These schemes predominantly operate at national level, with some of them exporting their model to other national contexts (e.g. Athena Swan). The remit of several of these existing schemes entails giving visibility to gender equality as a structural issue in research organisations, to wider issues related to addressing inequalities and/or creating knowledge about gender issues in research and innovation . A European CAS would help to enhance existing efforts to mainstream gender by providing a framework that research institutions (e.g. RPOs/RFOs) can use to effect gender change . This is particularly relevant in the current context of RPOs that seek support and frameworks to help them meet the recent GEP eligibility criterion in Horizon Europe.
The approach of the CASPER project relied on devising several possible scenarios and options (co-created by national and international stakeholders), based on an extensive assessment of existing relevant CAS. This went beyond gender-related inequalities alone and was informed by intersectional perspectives where possible. The general goal was attained through actions pursuing the three specific objectives described below.
Objective 1: To map and assess existing award and certification systems for gender equality (and related schemes) and to compile existing needs for such a system on the European level.
Objective 2: To design three different award/certification scenarios and assess the feasibility of these scenarios plus a fourth no-action scenario along several dimensions.
Objective 3: To prepare the grounds for a successful roll-out of a European award/certification scheme.
The CASPER project's progress was constantly monitored, measured and checked by using specific quantitative and qualitative indicators relevant to these objectives.
CASPER focused on achieving the three specific objectives by:
1/ The analysis of the main EU policy frameworks concerning quality and excellence in research and education including synergies, windows of opportunity for integrating a gender perspective, as well as potential tensions. The results were compiled in Deliverable 3.1.
2/ The development of an extensive two-stage mapping exercise for taking stock of existing gender-related or other relevant award/certification schemes in higher education and in private organisations. The results were compiled in Deliverable 3.3.
3/ The assessment of existing national systems through the collection of the needs, opinions and expectations of relevant EU/international and national stakeholders involved in the promotion of gender equality. Results were synthesised to provide an understanding of existing CAS covered in the interviews, and offer a nuanced account of the debates around the different key parameters of the architecture of a Europe-wide scheme. This empirical material was used to inform the distillation of key prerequisites, compiled in Deliverable 4.3.
4/ The development of the CASPER scenarios through the organisation of 10 co-creation workshops. Two online fora and three additional workshops with specific target groups were organised to discuss the feasibility of these scenarios, leading to a proposal for four (three plus a fourth no-action) fined-tuned scheme scenarios.
5/ The validation the scenarios by interviewing the stakeholders already involved in the assessment of existing schemes and expert members of the project’s advisory board. The validated scenarios were tested through a walk-through methodology in different geographic, scientific and institutional contexts (10 test organisations). The results are available in Deliverable 6.1 which present the final version of the four scenarios.
6/ The development of a set of cross-cutting and scheme-specific policy recommendations directly addressing the European Commission and, indirectly, relevant authorities at the national level. The recommendations identified the basic conditions that need to be created or strengthened to favour an impactful roll-out of the different scenarios, and were published in Deliverable 6.2.
7/ The design and delivery of a benchmarking tool to assess the compatibility of existing CAS with the Horizon Europe requirement on GEPs. Consultations with CAS representatives were carried out, feeding into recommendations on future perspectives of the benchmarking tool in terms of communication, use, update, as a potential instrument that could be used by the EC in any of the CASPER scenarios.
8/ The further development and adaptation of the “Impact driver model”, a tool to assess the progress on gender mainstreaming institutional changes in RPOs with the potential to be used by a CAS. The model was tested in seven RPOs, leading to a further adaptation of the tool, described in Deliverable 5.6.
9/ The communication and dissemination activities served for informing, growing collaborations and stimulating engagement with a wide range of European audiences about the project and mainstreaming gender equality. A stakeholder database was regularly updated, collecting the key stakeholders needed for the potential roll-out of a certification scheme by the EC. The project and its outputs were promoted via regular updates on its website, social media, participation in events, synergies with different sister projects. All public deliverables were uploaded to the CASPER repository in Zenodo.
The main CASPER results include:
• D3.1 “Policy framing report”. This report presents the European policy frames on quality and excellence in research and education with a focus on gender equality, and a preliminary screening of existing CAS.
• D3.3 “State of the Art Analysis: mapping the awarding certification landscape in HE/Research”. The report provides an analysis of results of the State of the Art research, including both Country Fact Sheets and specific Fact Sheets on identified CAS.
• D4.3 “Report of prerequisites for effective award/certification system”. The report provides a summary of the outcomes of the assessment of existing schemes by outlining the set of pre-requisites distilled.
• D5.6 “Report on the use of a potential innovative tool to assess the sustainability and impact of institutional change towards more gender equality”. The report describes the development and piloting of the Impact Driver model.
• D6.1 “Validated version of the 4 scenarios”. The report describes the final version of the four scenarios after the validation phase.
• D6.2 “Policy recommendations on the certification/award system”. This report compiles the policy recommendations to support the roll-out of a European certification/award system for gender equality in research organisations.
• A Stakeholder database gathering the main key stakeholders for the roll-out of a Europe-wide scheme by the EC (Confidential).
• A benchmarking tool and study to assess the compatibility of existing CAS with the Horizon Europe requirement on GEPs (Confidential).
• Building wider national and international awareness of the project results, in particular, and the current Gender Equality policy landscape, in general.
• Informing, growing collaborations and stimulating engagement with a wide range of European audiences about CASPER and the mainstreaming of gender equality.
The architecture of the CASPER award/certification scheme