This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 788204.

What's happening across the ACT Communities of Practice?

With the aim of share and disseminate the ongoing work in the advancement of gender equality objectives, over the next few months a series of posts will be published showing the CoPs progress, their achievements and upcoming challenges.

On this first summary, we present some observations on the action plan being developed by #LifeSciCoP from the consolidation workshop, a few comments on the development of the mapping workshop carried out by #Forgen and some notes on the recent launch of the GEAM surveys by #GEinCEE.


An action plan for LifeSciCoP – from sharing experiences to practicing in a community


The mission of the Life Science Community of Practice (LifeSciCoP) is to tackle barriers to gender equality that are common at the 12 member institutions, learn from their different European and institutional context, and disseminate learning outcomes, results, and best practices to the wider research community. As barriers to gender equality are diverse and complex, the CoP decided to limit its scope to three topics: (1) increase awareness for unconscious bias, (2) overcome resistance to Gender Equality, and (3) include gender aspects in evaluation processes.

Even though the CoP members took action already and collaborated on the launch of an institutional assessment for gender equality (GEAM survey), no detailed action plan was developed since the formation of the CoP in August 2019. During the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown we hold several virtual sessions to consolidate the CoP with the concrete goal to co-create an action plan.

We  used the Future Workshop methodology to identify the common challenges related to the three focus topics as mentioned above, created a vision about the desired future, and discussed which actions will lead to make the vision real (see ACT co-creation toolkit Future Workshop is an ideal method to co-create an action plan that is meaningful to all members, even though the virtual setting is limited to support creativity and visionary thinking. But we made the best out of it and the workshop was a success for consolidating the CoP despite the pandemic.

The direct outcome of the Future Workshop is the identification of eight key challenges CoP members commonly experience in their institutions and the launching of coordination teams, that are currently addressing each one of the key challenges with a detailed action plans. How to engage men and senior researcher into the discussion about Gender Equality? How to maintain the motivation of those who are doing the volunteering work in Gender Equality committees and how to acknowledge them? In general, how can institutions acknowledge academic housework of researcher and thus include gender dimensions in the evaluation criteria? Just to mention a few of the challenges.

Developing an action plan in a co-creation process takes time and is not an easy task, but the dedication of all members will pay off with satisfaction when the CoPs objectives are met. The LifeSciCoP will not stay a closed group, it will open-up step-by-step, first, by involving external collaborators for implementing actions, and second, by accepting additional members when sustainability of the CoP is ensured.


Mapping Gender Equality Measures in the Grant Evaluation Process


Research Funding Organisations (RFOs) play a critical role in addressing gender inequality in the research and innovation landscape. Equal opportunities in research are linked to success rates and participation in research funding. The evaluation and success of research grants is critical to the success of a researcher, which in turn affect promotional opportunities. RFOs must ensure that decision making, the grant evaluation process and post award policies support gender equality throughout their activities.

The FORGEN CoP is a Community of Practice (CoP) of Research and Innovation Funding Organisations interested in advancing gender equality (GE) in Research and Innovation (R&I) funding by developing tools, best practices, share knowledge, resources and experience, and develop strong collaborations in the area of gender equality in research and innovation funding.

Here, we share some of our experiences and learnings from a recent FORGEN workshop: Mapping Gender Equality Measures in the Grant Evaluation Process, with Dr Claartje Vinkenburg.

FORGEN completed these workshops on 17th & 24th of June. The first step was to define the steps and processes of the grant evaluation process in our different funding agencies to form one grant evaluation process flow diagram. Minor differences in the grant evaluation process can have a large effect bias within the process. Learning and sharing knowledge on the different types of grant evaluation processes and their implementation is key to understanding how to mitigate bias within the process.

In the second step, gender equality measures we have implemented were mapped in the grant evaluation process flow diagram. This mapping step was performed by each of the FORGEN Working Groups (WGs) focusing on these key areas in gender equality in the grant evaluation process:

WG1: Reducing bias in the grant evaluation process

WG2: Intersectionality

WG3: Sex and gender dimension in research

WG4: Influencing culture & leadership for sustainability

WG5: Collecting & monitoring GE data

After this, each working group identified areas of the grant evaluation process that had a paucity tested gender measures. The working groups then brainstormed measures that could potentially be implemented in these areas of the grant evaluation process. This workshop is the first in a series by FORGEN which will help facilitate developing a greater understanding of how to mitigate bias and enhance gender equality in Research and Innovation funding.


GEAM survey launched in the GEinCEE CoP’s member organisations


The Gender Equality Auditing and Monitoring (GEAM) tool developed by the ACT project was welcome by the members of the Community of Practice for Gender Equality in Central and Eastern Europe (GEinCEE CoP) as a comprehensive means of diagnosing the gender equality status quo and monitoring the progress in universities and research organisations. While due to the outspread of the COVID-19 pandemic the launch of the survey was postponed by a few months, the additional time was well used to complete much needed preparations. The members of the GEinCEE CoP have collaboratively worked on adapting the survey to their particular organisational and cultural contexts through improving the translations of the questionnaire into national languages and adjusting questions to the structure of the participating organisations and to the COVID-19 pandemic reality. We had also enough time to learn the technicalities of setting up the questionnaire in the Lime system, as well as to discuss data protection and strategies to promote the survey among stakeholders.As of the end of June 2020 the representatives of 7 out of 15 GEinCEE CoP’s member organisations confirmed conducting the GEAM survey among their employees. In 5 of them the survey has already been launched (University of Wroclaw, University of Gdansk, Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Jagiellonian University in Cracow and Cracow University of Technology). Two further organisations (National Information Processing  Institute – National Research Institute and Vilnius University) will launch the survey in coming weeks. In another 4 member organisations the arrangements concerning the conduct of the survey are still underway.

The results of the GEAM survey are much awaited in the GEinCEE CoP as they not only will allow for an assessment and a comparison of gender equality status quo in the organisations of the Central and Eastern Europe, but could also initiate and strengthen evidence-based interventions for improving working conditions of both female and male employees in higher education institutions and research organisations.