Tackling the gender aspects in Horizon Europe proposals

During the proposal writing process, the gender topic raises numerous questions. This article answers the majority of them, as well as provides you with some expert tips on how to manage the three gender aspects in Horizon Europe proposals.

Written by Welcomeurope
gender aspects in Horizon Europe

The new gender measures included in Horizon Europe evolved from the European Gender Equality Strategy (2020-2025). It presents policy objectives and actions with the aim to substantial progress towards gender equality by 2025. A Union of Equality is one of the major priorities of President Ursula von der Leyen's Commission. The Commission has taken concrete steps to address these challenges through Horizon Europe. With this in mind, as a rule it's required to address the gender aspects in the Excellence Section of Horizon Europe proposals.

Gender equality is a strengthened crosscutting priority in Horizon Europe and became the important criterion on 3 different levels. For a better understanding of these 3 different notions in the European context, we quoted below their definition from the European Institute for Gender Equality.

1. Eligibility Criterion: Gender Equality Plan

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, gender equality means “Equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys”.

Since 2022, Gender Equality Plan (GEP) is mandatory for public bodies, research organisations, or higher education institutions established in Member States or an Associated Country (private-for-profit entities incl.SMEs, NGOs, CSOs, as well any type of organisations from non-associated third countries, are exempt) that participate in Horizon Europe.

GEP should be published on the institution public website at least in one of the EU languages.

The questions about GEP will soon disappear from the Part A of the Horizon Europe proposal and will be included in the participant account (Legal Entity Appointed Representatives - LEARs). If you already have your PIC number, the LEAR of your organisation should fill this information in on your organisation profile (legal information). The self-assessment questionnaire is to be completed. This declaration is considered as an official statement. The detailed webinar "The Gender Equality Plan eligibility criterion in Horizon Europe: Who is concerned? How to comply with it?" organised by EC DG R&I on June 23, 2022 explains all steps related to how to proceed and what kind of information should we find in a GEP.

Tip: If your University has adopted a general GEP but each of your faculties use its own PIC number, they also need to have their own GEP and not the one of the University.

Tip: The monitoring of GEP is not foreseen in periodic reports but as agreed in your signed GA, you must support your GEP in the implementation of your actions. GEP is not attached to the specific project, it is linked to the institution.

2. Award Criterion: Integration of the gender dimension

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, gender dimension means “Ways in which the situation and needs of, and challenges facing, women and men (and girls and boys) differ, with a view to eliminating inequalities and avoiding their perpetuation, as well as to promoting gender equality within a particular policy, programme or procedure”.

The inclusion of the sex/gender dimension means that differences, whether biological or social, are taken into account in research and teaching. Under Horizon Europe, it is mandatory to present in your proposal how the gender dimension will be integrated in your R&D project or to explain why it won’t be. When it’s not relevant for a specific topic, it will be specified in the call documents. Integration of gender dimension in R&I content is evaluated under excellence criterion for RIAs/IAs.

You need inspiration for your proposal? We recommend to check out the EU Policy Review (Nov 2020) “Gendered Innovation 2. How inclusive analysis contributes to research and innovation”. This policy report has been produced by the EU funded H2020 expert group and provides:

  • 15 new case studies in various fields of research and innovation such as AI &robotics, climate change, energy, transport, etc.
  • list of methods (general and field-specific methods)
  • policy recommendations for Horizon Europe (6 Cluster- and mission-specific recommendations)

Tip: Keep in mind, that gender dimension is different from gender balance!

Tip: Take advantage of the Gender Equality in Academia and Research (GEAR) tool provides step-by-step guidance and a variety of online resources and good practice examples. The GEAR tool has been designed to cover the whole process of reinforcing gender equality in academia and research.

Recorded webinar: Quick guide to tackle gender dimension & cross-cutting issues

This recorded one-hour webinar focuses on gender dimension and cross-cutting issues in Horizon Europe. Watch the webinar to learn how to address a Gender Equality Plan, Open Science, Social Innovation, as well as the role of SSH in Horizon EU proposals.

3. Ranking Criterion : Gender balance

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, gender balance means “Human resources and equal participation of women and men in all areas of work, projects or programmes”.

Gender balance in research teams is a ranking criterion for ex aequo proposals. To establish the priority order for proposals with the same score, 5 criteria are taken into account (starting from highest to lowest score):

  1. Aspects of the call that have not otherwise been covered by more highly ranked proposals
  2. Scores on ‘Excellence’ then on ‘Impact’
  3. Gender balance among the named personnel among research teams, that are included in the proposal
  4. Geographical diversity
  5. Other factors set by panel

Commission gives also special importance in ensuring gender balance in the Horizon Europe evaluation panels and in other relevant advisory bodies, such as boards and expert groups.

Novelty is that since 2021, the Horizon Europe proposal template proposes triple choice in gender category: female, male and non-binary. In the official report “Legal gender recognition in the EU. The journeys of trans people towards full equality” by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers from June 2020, non-binary is defined as: “An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is not encompassed or represented by ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely”.

Tip: Horizon Europe projects should aim to have an even, 50/50 participation rate of both men and women amongst teams and leading roles, not only research teams!!!

The evaluation of the Horizon 2020 programme found that fewer funded research proposals than expected incorporated sex and gender analysis. The issue is the lack of knowledge on how to effectively consider a gender perspective and conduct gender and sex analysis. We hope this article sheds some light on the topic and will help you to successfully manage gender aspects in your proposals.

This article is written in a cooperation with our valued partner Welcomeurope.

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