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EU advised to double down on gender equality in research

Project urges European Research Area and research funding programme to build on progress made

The EU should double down on its efforts to improve gender equality in research and innovation, according to a project on the topic that was funded by the bloc.

“Significant advances” have been made on gender equality in R&I since 2020, according to the Gender Action project, which has received funding from the EU R&I programme. But it warned in a paper last week that there is a “risk of backsliding”.

Despite the advances, there is not yet “clear-cut political support across all member states for ambitious intersectional gender-equality action”, according to the project.

It added: “This should not be a reason for inaction, stalled development and lethargy.

“The current level of activity must continue, and the time to act is now because multiple policy processes are currently underway or being launched.

“We must ensure and guarantee that recent important policy commitments have the space to take root and further develop at all levels in the EU R&I community.”

Plans need work

Specifically, the project called for gender inequality to be made a 2025-27 priority in the European Research Area policy package, and said that the EU R&I programme that will start in 2028 should further reinforce progress made in the 2021-27 programme, Horizon Europe.

Gender Action said it had found that policymakers and the R&I community lack a common understanding of equality and diversity terminology, and that there is a scant data to support an intersectional approach in pursuit of improved equality.

Horizon Europe requires applicant institutions to have gender-equality plans in place, but the project said these lack monitoring and evaluation.