Curt Rice was invited to comment on the future of the European Research Area (ERA) as chair of the Norwegian Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF Committee). This opinion piece is input to the future of ERA on behalf of the KIF Committee. (Foto: Sonja Balci / OsloMet)
OPINION:

Gender equality and gender mainstreaming should continue to be a priority in ERA

We have three main messages for the future of the European Research Area (ERA), writes chair of the Norwegian Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF Committee), Curt Rice, in this opinion.
May 5, 2020

KIFs input is informed by the ERAC Opinion on the future of ERA, where gender equality as a priority is removed and instead included as elements in priority 1 and 4. KIFs input is based on its mandate given by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and focus on gender balance and diversity in research.

KIF has three main messages for the future of ERA:

  1. Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research and innovation should continue to be a priority in ERA.
  2. The goals for gender equality and gender perspectives in research in the ERA Roadmap must be retained and reinforced.
  3. The priorities in ERA must conform with other policies initiated by the EU: Horizon Europe and European Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025.

1. Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research and innovation should continue to be a priority in ERA

In recent years Member States and Associated Countries, the Commission and research funding and performing institutions have implemented major initiatives to advance gender equality in research and innovation in the European Research Area (ERA). These efforts must continue and expand for research and innovation to contribute to the resilience and quality of our democratic institutions, sustainability and competitiveness in the EU.

This calls for a continued existence of a policy platform – such as the current Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation – for mutual learning, policy exchange and capacity building among Member States, Associated Countries and the Commission.

Robust and properly placed gender structure in the Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) is vital to give support and professional monitoring to the implementation and evaluation of Horizon Europe from a gender perspective.

2. The goals for gender equality and gender perspectives in research in the ERA Roadmap must be retained and reinforced

The ERA Roadmaps, including goals and actions for gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research, have been a catalyst for gender equality policy and measures in many EU countries, both the advanced countries and especially those where such measures have not been in place previously.

The goals for a new ERA must be updated and in line with recent EU policies and research policies. The mention of developing a European framework for career evaluation in the ERAC Opinion where gender equality is linked to Open science and Open Innovation principles is highly supported by the KIF Committee.

Special measures need to be identified and monitored in this area. Intersectionality with a focus on ethnicity, socio-economic status etc. must be included as it is crucial for addressing the multiple axes of inequality that researchers experience. The mention of inclusiveness and ethnic minorities in the ERAC Opinion when discussing research careers and research content is positive and opens for an intersectional approach.  This needs to be specified further.

3. The priorities in ERA must conform with other policies initiated by the EU

With an increased focus on gender equality by the new Commissioner also stated by the newly launched European Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, the new ERA should work in line with these signals and keep gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research as a priority.

As an example, the new Strategy proposes the possibility of requiring gender action plans from Horizon Europe applicants. Horizon Europe also has a strong focus on gender equality in research that needs to be harmonized with the ERA priorities.

In addition, all priorities in ERA should include a gender and intersectional perspective. This is in line with what is stated in the European Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 where the Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, through the Commission will integrate a gender perspective in all EU policies and major initiatives (gender mainstreaming). This applies to, for example, climate change, innovation and digital transformation that all require a gender dimension.

Read more about the new European Research Area

Curt Rice is chair of the Norwegian Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF Committee). As a chair Rice was invited to comment on the future of the European Research Area (ERA). This opinion piece is input to the future of ERA on behalf of the KIF Committee.

More about the KIF Committee and KIF’s mandate 

Input from the Ministry of Education and Research, includes input from the KIF Committee (attachment): Norwegian comments to the European Commission’s communication on the new European Research Area.

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