This study comes at an important point in the EU’s efforts to further gender equality in the European Union. Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) are an important policy instrument in achieving this in the research and innovation (R&I) community, as acknowledged by the Council, cited in the technical specifications for this study. The role of GEPs has been further strengthened by the fact that having a GEP in place is now an eligibility criterion for the Horizon Europe framework programme in the case of all public bodies and for public and private higher education establishments and research organisations in the EU and Associated Countries. These organisations must comply with a list of mandatory minimum requirements in their GEPs, so-called building blocks. This eligibility criterion will be fully enforced in Horizon Europe calls with deadlines in 2022.
So far, over 200 organisations – a large majority of which are higher education institutions – have been supported in the implementation of GEPs through 30 collaborative projects and that the Commission has been funding a set of complementing coordination and support actions. The impact of this has been very positive in terms of promoting gender equality. However, the implementation of GEPs has not been consistent across the European Research Area (ERA), and there is also evidence of persisting structural barriers to effective GEP implementation in R&I institutions. This has led the Commission to the introduction of the new GEP eligibility criterion in Horizon Europe.
This study therefore is of key importance in that it aims to document and analyse recent policy developments regarding GEPs in R&I organisations in order to support the renewed priority on gender equality set for the new ERA and the strategic development of its related policy agenda and monitoring framework. By analysing EU policies and programmes at EU and national level in the area of GEPs and documenting their impact on the quality and efficiency of R&I, the study will make a major contribution to the understanding of the framework surrounding GEPs and will be able to highlight lessons learned for the future development of GEP implementation. It will also propose a monitoring framework to measure progress on gender equality in the ERA, and in this way contribute to the ERA scoreboard and related dashboard.