Skip to main content

Certification-Award Systems to Promote gender Equality in Research

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CASPER (Certification-Award Systems to Promote gender Equality in Research)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-09-30

CASPER aims to examine the feasibility of establishing a Europe-wide certification or award system (CAS) for gender equality.

Gender has been included in research and innovation (R&I) policy of the European Union for over two decades. Taking stock of existing gender gaps (e.g. too few women in science, slow career progress, strong under-representation of women in decision-making), the European Commission started to take action in 1999 to become a catalyst for change in gender equality in R&I across Europe.

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. The remit of existing schemes entails giving visibility to gender equality as a structural issue in research organisations, to wider issues related to careers and/or excellence 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.

The approach of the CASPER project relies on devising alternative scenarios and options (co-created by national and international stakeholders), based on an assessment of existing relevant CAS. This encompasses mainly tackling gender-related inequalities but will be informed by intersectional perspectives where possible. The general goal will be 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 is constantly monitored, measured and checked by using specific quantitative and qualitative indicators relevant to these objectives.
Over the first reporting period [M1-M9], the work focused on setting up the project framework and processes, and on achieving Objective 1: mapping and assessing existing CAS for gender equality (and related schemes) and compiling the existing needs for such a scheme on the European level.

For that the following steps were taken:
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. These analyses consisted of desk-based research carried out by consortium members. The results have been compiled in the public Deliverable 3.1 “Policy framing report”, which was uploaded to the public repository Zenodo. A blog post on CASPER website was produced together with twitter posts to disseminate these results.

2/ The conduction 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 corporate organisations such as e.g.: Athena SWAN, Juno, EDGE or the Catalyst Awards. This mapping was carried out by a network of national researchers set up for this purpose and which covered 33 countries. Outputs include the creation of a database, a map and a typology of stakeholders which is being consulted and updated with tailored engagement strategies throughout the project. These results have been compiled in the public Deliverable 3.3 “State of the Art Analysis: mapping the awarding certification landscape in HE/Research”, which has been recently uploaded to Zenodo. A blog post on CASPER website was produced together with twitter posts to disseminate these results.

3/ The assessment of existing national systems through the collection of the needs, opinions and expectations of relevant EU/international and national stakeholders in the context of higher education, research and innovation, such as EU institutions, national systems, national research bodies and other bodies involved in the promotion of gender equality. The assessment was done through 67 semi-structured interviews with 74 stakeholders predominantly using qualitative methods, supplemented by a set of 18 quantitative indicators. Results were synthesized 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 in. This empirical material will be used to inform the distillation of key prerequisites and further steps in the next reporting period.
The second reporting period [M10-M24] will see continuous progress on specific activities initiated in the first reporting period, including stakeholder engagement, and the distillation of key prerequisites for an effective award/certification system and subsequent translation into design criteria for scenario development. Moreover, it will further focus on the next core phase of the project’s implementation, namely the development of three system-scenarios (plus a no-action scenario) and their validation (Objective 2), followed by the formulation of policy recommendations (Objective 3).

The expected results include:

• Publication of deliverable D4.3 “Report of prerequisites for effective award/certification system”.
• Designing three different CAS scenarios in co-creation workshops and assessing the feasibility of these scenarios plus a fourth no-action scenario along several dimensions.
• Validating the scenarios by interviewing the stakeholders already involved in the assessment of existing systems and through assessing them together with expert members of the project’s advisory board; and testing the scenarios through a walk-through methodology in different geographic, scientific and institutional contexts.
• Publication of deliverable D6.1 “Validation of the four scenarios”
• Designing a set of specific proposals and recommendations both in general and related to each one of the four scenarios, on the possible development of a CAS for gender equality in Europe, after different validation steps.
• Completing the Stakeholder database.
• Building a consensus agreement among diverse stakeholders on recommended CAS.
• Publication of deliverable D6.2 “Policy recommendations on the CAS”.
• Policy recommendations presented to and discussed with the European Commission.
• Building wider national and international awareness of the project, the work, and of how to contribute to the CASPER feasibility study.
• Informing, growing collaborations and stimulating engagement with a wide range of European audiences about CASPER and mainstreaming gender equality.
The architecture of the CASPER award/certification scheme