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Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PLOTINA (Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training)

Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2020-01-31

PLOTINA project (GA: 666008) has been designed to develop, implement and assess self-tailored Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in five Universities and one Research Institute. It lasted four years (February 2016-January 2020) and its continuous effort aimed at: i) stimulating a gender-aware cultural change; ii) promoting career-development of researchers to prevent the waste of talent, particularly of women; iii) ensuring diversification of views and methodologies in research and teaching.
The PLOTINA Consortium exemplifies the heterogeneity of Research Performing Organizations (RPOs) and the diversity of European and extra-European social-cultural environments, bringing together five Universities (University of Bologna, UNIBO, Italy; University of Warwick, WARWICK, United Kingdom; Lisbon School of Economics and Management, ISEG, Portugal; Mondragon University, MU, Spain; Özyeğin University, OZU, Turkey), one research Institute (National Institute of Chemistry, NIC, Slovenia), two professional associations (Centro Studi Progetto Donna e Diversity MGMT, PD, Italy; Elhuyar-Zubize SLU, ELH, Spain), one non-profit research organisation (Centre for Social Innovation, ZSI, Austria) and one social enterprise (Elhuyar Komunikazioa, ELH KOM Spain).
In order to reach its objectives, PLOTINA has organized the work plan in four overall stages: 1) assessment of the current situation in each RPO (Gender Audit) at institutional and/or departmental level; 2) design of a self-tailored GEP for each RPO; 3) implementation, monitoring and impartial evaluation (peer reviewed) of the GEPs actions’ impact; 4) creation of a platform of resources (Library of actions, case studies, toolkits) that can be used by RPOs across Europe to implement their own GEPs.
In four years, all the PLOTINA RPOs have successfully implemented their GEPs. They conducted the Gender Audit and then grounded the GEPs’ development on its results, as suggested by GEAR tool. The Gender Audit purpose was twofold: 1) collecting qualitative and quantitative information on institutional structures, processes, policies, representations and perceptions of staff with a gender lens; 2) assessing and identifying needs to address through the design of positive actions implemented in the GEPs.
The Gender Audit procedure was pivotal in developing a Common Audit Tool that other RPOs can use in their own institutions. The tool is structured around five key areas: 1) governance bodies, key actors and decision-makers; 2) recruitment, retention and career progression; 3) work-personal life integration and balance; 4) researchers and research: gender equality and sex and gender perspective; 5) integration of sex and gender in study curricula.
Informed by the insights gained from the Audit Reports, RPOs designed specific GEPs based on these five key areas tailored to their own context. Different objectives were identified and translated into measures. These measures are associated to core or specific indicators aimed at self-assessing the progress achieved by RPOs through the GEPs actions. The indicators stem from a Catalogue of core and specific indicators revised after the GEPs design, in order to be consistent with the planned measures. A monitoring software was created and used by all RPOs and now is available on PLOTINA website, accompanied by a tutorial video that can guide other RPOs how to use it in their own context.
The anonymous assessment of the GEPs allowed the impartial evaluation through the Interim Evaluation Report and the Final Evaluation Report. The Interim Evaluation Report enabled PLOTINA RPOs focus on the most effective actions implemented in their GEPs and identify the weak points and the challenges to deal with. The Final Evaluation Report can help RPOs beyond the Consortium to easily understand which actions were more effective in delivering results and which were not as effective.
Strongly aligned with the European Research Area (ERA) objective on gender equality, PLOTINA has integrated the gender dimension into the design, evaluation and implementation of research, to enhance its relevance fostering excellence and the social value of innovations. Despite the PLOTINA project being a Coordination and Support Action (no funding for research activity), PLOTINA organisations undertook additional efforts to insert the sex and gender dimensions into research. These efforts are exemplified in the development of PLOTINA case studies which cover different disciplinary fields ( PLOTINA RPOs published a collection of short briefs from the gender-aware research and teaching Case studies as part of the PLOTINA Library.
These capacity building activities are complemented by actions to enhance commitment of female scientists as peer-reviewers, editors and referees in research. PLOTINA organised a summer school on ‘How to be a peer reviewer’ at the University of Warwick and, at the Università di Bologna, the international Winter School titled “The Road from Reviewer to Editor in Food Science and Agriculture Journals”, to spread the inclusion of sex and gender variables in Journal Guides for Authors and calls for papers issued by the scientific journals, with the two-fold aim of enhancing research quality and researcher commitment to gender equality.
The path towards gender equality is still a long one. Despite relevant progress towards gender equality amongst RPOs (She Figures, 2018) in the EU, overall positive changes proceed very slowly. The commitment of the PLOTINA Consortium is evidenced in the efforts and results of GEP implementation in all the PLOTINA RPOs.
One of the main deliverables of PLOTINA was the creation of a Library of gender equality Actions which can be used by organisations in different stages of developing a gender equality actions (
A broader approach and a particular focus on communication and dissemination were essential to PLOTINA success. Thus, PLOTINA decided to share all its methodologies and results on its website but also during a number of national and international events.
Other RPOs can freely access, use and adapt the following PLOTINA tools:
• The GEP monitoring tool (
• The Formative Toolkit (
• The Gender Audit Tool (
• The GEP design and implementation Tool (

A number of videos were published by the Consortium, in particular a video, accompanied by guidelines disseminated in the institutions, titled “Contrasting unconscious biases in evaluation and recruitment to promote gender equality and avoid the waste of talents”. The video was designed to increase the awareness of the evaluation committees’ members inviting them to guarantee the equal treatment to all candidates/applicants, irrespective of sex and gender, nationality and ethnicity, sexual orientations, religion and disabilities (
The PLOTINA Consortium envisages that all these resources will be useful to equality and diversity practitioners and decision makers in RPOs, academic researchers and administrators who are interested in developing, implementing and evaluating GEPs.
Plotina Pert