The Horizon Europe gender equality policy builds strongly upon the strategy set out under Horizon 2020.
Under Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) promoting gender equality in research and innovation was done through three objectives, in short:
- Fostering gender balance in research teams
- Ensuring gender balance in decision-making
- Integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation (R&I) content
The objectives and expected impact regarding gender equality throughout Horizon 2020 work programmes are described in the section gender equality in research and innovation of the Horizon 2020 funding portal. On what this concretely entailed at proposal submission and evaluation stage, this is described in the gender part in the Horizon 2020 Online Manual.
Under Horizon Europe (2021-2027) this threefold objective is continued. There is a 50% target for gender balance in Horizon Europe boards, expert groups and evaluation committees. Gender balance among research teams is set as a 3rd ranking criterion for proposals with the same score (Horizon Europe work programme 2021-2022 general annexes p. 23). The gender dimension in research and innovation content is an award criterion under the evaluation criterion Excellence (unless specified otherwise in the call topic).
Added under Horizon Europe is the obligation to have a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in all public bodies, higher education institutions and research organisations in Horizon Europe Associated Countries and EU member states applying to calls with deadline in 2022 and onwards. An explanation of the defined legal entities under Horizon Europe is given in the Rules for Legal Entity Validation, LEAR Appointment and Financial Capacity Assessment (p. 4-9). The GEP must be in place at grant agreement signature stage.
The mandatory requirements of a GEP are described in the Horizon Europe work programme 2021-2022 general annexes (p. 12-13). Four mandatory building blocks are described, in short: 1) The GEP must be a public document, 2) there needs to be dedicated resources, 3) data collection and monitoring and 4) training and capacity building. This is supplemented by five recommended thematic areas:
- work-life balance and organisational culture
- gender balance in leadership and decision-making
- gender equality in recruitment and career progression
- integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching content
- measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment
More hands on information can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions on GEP (May 2021) and the presentation of the GEP info session (May 2021) organised by the Belgian Horizon Europe National Contact Points following up this topic.
In addition to gender equality in research and innovation and the GEP, the European Commission DG Research and Innovation strategic plan for 2020-2024, furthermore explains the “intersectional approach” (p.32) which aims to counteract inequalities in research and innovation also in terms of ethnicity and race, social class, gender identity and sexual orientation and disability, which is in line with the Gender equality strategy 2020-2025 of the European Commission.
This factsheet on “gender equality – a strengthened commitment in Horizon Europe” is a handy summary on the gender equality objectives under Horizon Europe, what needs to be included in a GEP and where to find more useful resources for establishing a GEP. Lastly, an example worth mentioning is the European Research Council Gender Equality Plan for the period 2021-2027.