HORIZON 2020 – GERI-4-2015

Coordination and Support Actions

EQUAL-IST: Gender Equality Plans for Information
Sciences and Technology Research Institutions.

June 2016 – May 2019


Project vision

Women remain a minority among academic leaders, especially in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The project “Gender Equality Plans for Information Sciences and Technology Research Institutions” (EQUAL-IST) will improve this situation for seven partner Universities that are active in the fields of Information Sciences (IS) and/or Information and Communications Technology (ICT), called in this proposal the Information Sciences and Technology (IST) fields. The Information Sciences (IS) field connects the disciplines of Computer Science and Business Administration. As such, the IS field, on the one hand, like the other STEM fields, faces the issue of gender imbalance, but, on the other hand, has specific characteristics associated with its interdisciplinarity. The under-representation of women in the IST field, aside from its implications for gender equality in career progression, also has far-reaching negative consequences for human capital utilisation and innovation potential. Presence of women in key areas of academia is increasingly recognised as one factor in the gendering of research content, including the shaping of science priorities, research agendas, and methods.

The main goal of the EQUAL-IST project is, therefore, to create a basis for increasing the share of women on all levels in the IST fields. This goal will be achieved by creating awareness among management, employees, and students of the participating IST institutions at the partner Universities (Research Performing Organisations, RPOs), making the institutions reconsider their culture, improving the communication, and supporting women in their career persistence and advancement. Within the realm of the project, we will develop Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) for the participating IST institutions. Based on an initial review of existing literature and analysis of good practices across Europe, we will investigate the state of the art in terms of gender equality at the seven involved IST institutions located throughout Europe. In this way, we will get a profound understanding of their maturity levels in terms of gender equality and the requirements and means used to tackle gender-related issues. The GEPs will be based on these findings and will be tailored to fit the specific needs and the given environment of the institutions. It will be possible due to the participatory and co-design methodology and the use of a crowdsourcing online collaborative platform. The institutions will implement the GEPs in two stages, with the opportunity to refine the goals in the middle of the project run time. Implementation of GEPs will be assessed by external evaluators who are experienced in accompanying institutions during organisational change processes. The findings will be documented in an open platform and will be made accessible for any interested party, especially for other IST research institutions, as a collection of best practices.

Project Objectives

Objective 1: To set the scene for the implementation of structural changes in the involved IST institutions (RPOs) towards the promotion of gender equality in research at a departmental level adopting a focused approach on IST research and education.

Objective 2: To enhance gender equality at the involved RPOs through the development and implementation of tailored GEPs containing specific measures to address gender imbalance.

Objective 3: To monitor and assess the results of GEPs implementation, refining the gender equality measures and ensuring their effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.

Objective 4: To boost gender equality in research organisations at a national and international level.

Main Outcomes

  • State of the Art Analysis (best practices on the design and implementation of GEPs)
  • Crowdsourcing platform
  • Gender Equality Action Plans (GEPs)
  • Methodology for gender audit at ICT_IST Faculties and Departments
  • Toolkit on designing and implementing GEPs at ICT Departments and Faculties
  • Sustainability and Replication Report

Overall structure of the work plan

The EQUAL-IST project will be implemented through five (6) closely interlinked work packages (WP1-WP6) across a period of 36 months.

The overall structure of the project is based on a combination of a bottom-up and top-down approach for the development and implementation of GEPs by involving in the project RPOs administrative employees, academic staff, members of the higher management level, students and external experts.

In particular, WP2 will have a key role in the structure of the project because it will provide the basis for the development of the GEPs as well as an initial meeting point for discussion between the different stakeholders involved in the project. It will conduct the state of the art analysis as well as the initial internal assessment for identifying gender bias at the involved RPOs providing useful inputs for the following WPs.

WP3 is about the design, development and implementation of the GEPs. Building on the initial inputs received from the state of the art analysis and assessment activities in WP2 and through a codesign and participatory approach this WP will develop individualised GEPs for each one of the RPOs involved in the project by taking into consideration the views and opinions of various stakeholders. This WP will also support and implement the required structural changes suggested by the GEPs during a 2 phase implementation period that will lead to the final refinement of the gender equality measures for each involved RPO.

WP4 is focused on assessing the progress made throughout the duration of the project in relation to the implementation of the gender equality measures. Through a set of specific monitoring indicators and an assessment methodology this WP will enable the evaluation of the GEPs both internally and externally by a subcontractor who will conduct an impartially assessment of the overall progress made.

Finally, WP1 (Ethics Requirements), WP6 (Project Management) and WP5 (Sustainability and Dissemination) span across the whole project lifetime aiming to ensure smooth project implementation as well as boosting its wider dissemination and sustainability.