Go back

Gender considerations to be ‘insisted on’ in Horizon Europe

Commission pushes to make R&D programme more inclusive after previous stipulations failed to deliver

The European Commission is to require those who win funding from its next R&D programme to incorporate sex and gender analyses into their research by default, after its previous attempts to drive up inclusivity were too often ignored.

The Commission said on 11 December that it will “insist on steps that will make research design more inclusive” except where it explicitly specifies that sex or gender are not relevant.

As well as gender and sex, researchers will also be expected to take into account “intersecting aspects” such as ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation as part of the push.

Amid widespread concern that many studies do not take enough account of ethnic minorities and women, the Commission has been asking researchers applying for funding from the EU R&D programme to include sex and gender analysis in their research designs since 2013.

But it says fewer researchers did this than it expected, without supplying numbers. 

“The current proposal will probably improve these figures, and should create a window for changes to eventually be applied by public funders across EU member states,” it said.

In November, the Commission published a report on inclusiveness in research by an independent expert group, which recommended that all Horizon Europe topics by default should require sex- and gender-based analysis unless those setting the topic clearly demonstrated this would not be relevant.

The experts said an evaluation of gender in research proposals was part of all research and innovation action calls of the 2014-20 EU R&D programme, Horizon 2020, under its excellence-focused evaluation criterion, but that in Horizon Europe this should also be evaluated under the impact-focused criterion.

However, the Commission told Research Professional News the mandatory requirement would be evaluated under the excellence criterion. It said the decision on whether a call topic will be exempted from the gender dimension will be taken by the Commission itself.