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A practical experience of gender mainstreaming in research funding: small but flexible

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Presentation held by Elisabeth Nagl and Donia Lasinger (Vienna science and technology fund) during the webinar "Gender Equality in RFOs, two experiences", organised by SUPERA on 13 November 2020.

More infos are available here: https://www.superaproject.eu/experience-exchange-between-research-funding-organisations/

Presentation held by Elisabeth Nagl and Donia Lasinger (Vienna science and technology fund) during the webinar "Gender Equality in RFOs, two experiences", organised by SUPERA on 13 November 2020.

More infos are available here: https://www.superaproject.eu/experience-exchange-between-research-funding-organisations/

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A practical experience of gender mainstreaming in research funding: small but flexible

  1. 1. A practical experience of gender mainstreaming in research funding: small but flexible “This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 741128”. This presentation reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.” 1 SUPERA Webinar - Gender Equality in RFOs, Two experiences
  2. 2. ► Who we are and what we do ► WWTF as partner in the EU project GEECCO ► Five steps to structural and cultural change ► Supporting and inhibiting factors ► Results, reflections & lessons learned Overview 2
  3. 3. Only larger Austrian private non-profit organisation established to promote science and research; local/regional actor (Vienna) Founded in 2001 | Funding since 2003: over 200 Mio. € have been awarded (Private foundation, City of Vienna) WWTF Mission: ► We fund top scientific research in Vienna ► We provide substantial funding for larger research projects and bring research group leaders from abroad to Vienna ► We run competitive calls organized within long-standing thematic programmes according to international standards 3 Calls per year, resulting in ~15 projects + around 2 young researcher positions Small but/and flexible (team with 8 FTEs), embedded and involved in regional policy dialogue and networks WWTF – Vienna Science and Technology Fund 3
  4. 4. Programmes and instruments Life Sciences (*2003) Cognitive Sciences (*2011) Information- and Communication Technology (*2008) Projects Vienna Research Groups Supplementing Measures Thematic programmes Instruments Environmental Systems Research (*2017)
  5. 5. Project partner of EU H2020 consortium: “GEECCO” (4 years) Goal of the GEECCO project: • Establishment of tailor-made Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in 4 European universities in the STEM field • Implementation of the gender dimension in two research funding organizations (RFOs) in funding schemes, programs and review processes Initial situation at WWTF regarding gender equality: Individual measures already in place, but no systematic approach WWTF experiences to structural and cultural changes to foster gender equality (GE) Project website: http://www.geecco-project.eu/home/ WWTF and gender equality 5
  6. 6. 1. Building up knowledge and a gender-friendly culture – Little knowledge on gender in research in organization before GEECCO – Internal discussions, awareness raising workshops and trainings – Intensive analysis and examination of topic „gender in research“ in funding organisations – Starting point: place gender as cross-cutting issue in the organization itself (Dis)-Advantage: small team GE change process in WWTF 6
  7. 7. 2. Provide evidence that there is need for action – Prerequesite 1: Analysing the status quo internally, – Status regarding gender in the different stages of the organisation • Pre-call work • Call excecution • Post-call work • Cross-cutting matters – Analysis of sex-disaggregated data of different indicators • Number of applicants vs. successful applicants • Number of reviewers / jury members / jury chairs • Average grant sizes • … – Prerequesite 2: Analysing the status quo externally and get to know what others do (Dis)-Advantage: small organization GE change process in WWTF 7
  8. 8. 3. Formulate clear goals (and non-goals) and measures to reach them  Formulation of overarching key objective  Intermediary objectives and respective measures  Realistic and with clear plan for  What should be achieved?  In which timeframe?  Who is responsible?  What influencing aspects can be identified?  Monitoring of progress (Dis)-Advantage: context (applied versus basic research) GE change process in WWTF 8
  9. 9. 4. Implementation in pilot initiative  Identification of a "Window of Opportunity“  Starting, even if the “perfect” measures have not (yet) been found – Balancing act between overanalysing and evidence, perfectionism and pragmatism  Learning from others but also Learning by Doing – The wheel doesn't have to be reinvented – No one-fits-all solutions that can be copied from one institution to another (Dis-)Advantages: flexibility GE change process in WWTF 9
  10. 10. 5. Consolidate change in the institution  Keeping colleagues involved and informed  Monitoring development and changes  Reporting success stories to management  Analysing and identifying areas for improvement  Developing new standards from learnings  Institutionalizing implemented measures GE change process in WWTF 10
  11. 11. Supporting and inhibiting factors for our case 11 - Private organization: fewer restrictions than public RFOs - Not a first mover: other organizations have paved the way - Embedding in different peer groups - Holistic approach: implemented measures spanning an entire call for proposals & several dimensions of gender equality - Private also means not having to fulfill the public requirements e.g. quotas in decision-making - Small organization with little room for bigger structures (e.g. GE office) - Depending on individual engagement
  12. 12. • Positive tendency, vs. direct causality and impact • Internal knowledge building to prevent resistances • Provide evidence that there is need for action • Flagging an issue and raising awareness might initiate disussions/change • Networks of peers to exchange on experiences is important • Exchange between funding agencies and research institutions (important but seldom & informal) • Implementing changes in a pilot initiative as door opener Results, reflection & lessons learned 12
  13. 13. Thank you! “This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 741128”. This presentation reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.” 13 SUPERA Webinar - Gender Equality in RFOs, Two experiences
  14. 14. • Review on Human Computer Interaction and Gender • Review on Robots and Gender • Review on Energy and Gender • Review on Mobility and Gender • Video: Humans & Computer • Video: Robots in our Society • Video: Energy for all • Report: Best practice examples of gender mainstreaming in Research Funding Organizations • Guideline for jury members, reviewers and research funding organizations´employees • Overview and assessment of gender criteria for funding programmes • Upcoming: Tool for Monitoring change process Further results of GEECCO 14

Editor's Notes

  • Internal discussions, awareness raising, trainings

    3 Workshops/ Trainings in 9 months


    (Dis)-Advantage: Small team
    easy to reach everyone as few persons need to be on board, but these have more weight
    Positive: No complex internal structures, flat hierachy, a lot of exchange which is favorable for the learning loops and the exchange along the change process
  • Provide evidence that there is need for action

    (Dis)-Advantage: small organization
    easy to access numbers and collect them, but no elaborated monitoring system in place, all „done by hand“;
    problem of small numbers/samples
    Broad network with a lot of external expertise and input; however many„wishes“ (WWTF has to solve everthing), but limited resources
    Selecting the best examples – whom to compare with, learning from which organisation (similar structures, legal status….)


  • Formulate clear goals (and non-goals) and measures to reach them

    Dis)-Advantage: context (applied versus basic research)
    has different challenges in RFOs focussing on applied or basic research
    Applied: “easier” to gender mainstream research content (humans very likely to be involved) but if companies involved lower awareness
    Basic: high(er) awareness in academia, but challenging to include sex/gender considerations in research


  • 4. Implementation in pilot initiative
    …is a permanent process of trying and adapting ideas and instruments as also the requirements and challenges change. An innovative measure 10 years ago might be standard today and outdated tomorrow.

    (Dis)-Advantage: flexibility
    Speedy implementation and adjustments are possible
    Nevertheless, a consistency and a common thread are necessary in order not to „get lost“ in trying things out
  • Data shows positive tendency, but no claim for direct causality and impact (time and sample size)
    Important to build up knowledge internally in order to prevent resistances: What are the changes really about?
    Provide evidence that there is need for action
    Even if there is little direct or immediate influence, flagging an issue and raising awareness might initiate disussions or change
    Build up or connect to networks of peers to exchange on experiences
    Exchange between funding agencies and research institutions is important but seldom and rather informal
    Implementing changes in a pilot initiative instead of the entire organization as a door opener to structural change
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