Data collection and monitoring
Gender equality plans (GEPs) or any other gender equality ad hoc initiatives need to be grounded in evidence. Before you can plan any measures, you need to know how your organisation is doing regarding gender equality and which areas you need to focus on. This initial assessment of the status quo of gender equality in an organisation usually includes a statistical analysis of sex-disaggregated data, additional interviews or focus groups (qualitative methods) to gain a better understanding, a documentary analysis of national legal and policy documents, and a review of your organisation’s strategic and operational documents. Go to step 2 of the step-by-step guide for details on how to carry out the status quo assessment in your organisation.
Based on your status quo assessment, you will establish specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related (SMART) objectives, targets and measures for your GEP (see step 3 of the step-by-step guide). However, the data collection does not end here: to be eligible for Horizon Europe, it is mandatory that organisations collect and publish disaggregated data on the sex and/or gender of personnel (and students, where relevant) and carry out annual reporting based on indicators. Hence, a regular monitoring plan and a final evaluation of your GEP needs to be implemented. The latter will help you to learn relevant lessons for future measures.
This section of the action toolbox will provide you with examples of how other organisations conducted their monitoring and evaluation, as well as some additional tips. See step 5 of the step-by-step guide for details on how you can plan and implement a monitoring and evaluation strategy. Note that the direct links will lead you to the step-by-step guide for research organisations, universities and public bodies; there is a separate guide for research funding organisations.
Consider the following notes on data collection and analysis in the context of planning and implementing your GEP.
- Plan your monitoring and evaluation strategy at the very beginning. Starting with your initial status quo assessment, consider which areas to focus on and set out measures in your GEP. When planning the details of your GEP, consider in which way you will monitor progress and evaluate the impact of your measures. You may want to embed your monitoring and evaluation strategy in a theory of change, so that it supports a structured understanding of how and why you think your planned measures will contribute to change in your organisation.
- While baseline data and information (as collected during the initial status quo assessment) are necessary as input for tailoring a context-sensitive GEP, it is good not to spend too much time just collecting and analysing information. If necessary, complementary analytical efforts can still be undertaken when concrete activities have started already.
- Gender-sensitive and gender-specific indicators are key to measuring gender-related changes over time. They can be quantitative (e.g. numbers of women and men researchers), or qualitative (usually used to capture/assess people’s experiences, opinions, attitudes, behaviours and feelings). While quantitative indicators can provide statistical evidence of what has changed, qualitative analyses allow the quality of change to be assessed and help you understand why certain patterns have occurred. The best way to capture the status of gender (in)equality in the organisation and to assess progress is by combining the use of quantitative indicators with qualitative ones (see step 5 for concrete suggestions).
- Remember that ‘women’ and ‘men’ are very heterogeneous groups and that differences in the situations of individuals within these groups might be significant. Pay attention to intersecting inequalities and the influence of other factors (such as age, career stage, family status, contractual basis). Try to consider at least three gender categories when collecting your data, for example woman, man and non-binary (or gender-diverse).
- Furthermore, it is important to realise that monitoring and evaluation are very important for the accountability, but also the visibility, of your measures. Make sure to communicate your results to relevant stakeholders regularly and use the data to ensure their support.
In order to get more detailed information and guidance on data collection and monitoring, check out the resources provided in the tab ‘Tools and resources’.
Here are some examples of measures implemented in other organisations (note that they will open in a new window):
- gender balance report, National Research Council, Italy,
- gender pay gap audit and elimination, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania,
- monitoring equal opportunities, Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Austria,
- the Observatory of Research and Scientific Careers of the Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS), Belgium.
You can find further inspirational examples in the following sources:
- the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) provides a section on good practices for various relevant topics;
- these sustainable measures were already mentioned in the first version of the gender equality in academia and research (GEAR) tool and are still in place.
If you want to learn more about how you can adjust these measures for your own purposes and how to implement them through a GEP, read the step-by-step guide for research organisations, universities and public bodies, or the step-by-step guide for research funding organisations.
Videos introducing and supporting the use of relevant online tools for implementing gender equality
- The ‘Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training’ (PLOTINA) monitoring tool provides a useful tutorial on how to use the tool.
- The ACT gender equality audit and monitoring (GEAM) tool also provides useful training videos.
- VIDEO: An introduction to the Gender Equality Audit & Monitoring (GEAM) tool with ACT (Session 1)
Guidelines for participatory gender audits
The EU-funded structural change project Genis Lab provides detailed instructions for carrying out a participatory gender audit, which is an action research methodology that helps to ‘map’ an organisation from a gender equality perspective. This methodology combines an objective observation of facts and data with a more in-depth and qualitative reflection on individual and collective rules, behaviours and beliefs, and their impact on gender equality. Download the complete Genis Lab guidelines and tools for institutional change and read pp. 29–55.
The EU-funded project ‘Taking a reflexive approach to gender equality for institutional transformation’ (TARGET) prepared a gender equality audit tool that consists of specific guidelines for practitioners on how to conduct a participatory gender equality audit.
The EU-funded project ‘Gender equality actions in research institutions to transform gender roles’ (GEARING ROLES) developed an up-to-date (2019) resource directory that lists relevant resources for planning and performing a gender audit as a first step towards GEP design.
EIGE also provides a good overview on how a gender audit works and which questions it should focus on.
The EU-funded project ‘Gender equality in information science and technology’ (EQUAL-IST) produced a report on the methodology for participatory gender audits in ICT. The methodology exploits a mixed strategy integrating quantitative and qualitative techniques adapted to the specific context of ICT / information science and technology research institutions.
Guidelines for creating a monitoring and evaluation strategy
To assess structural change, the EU-funded project ‘Transforming organisational culture for gender equality in research and innovation’ (GENOVATE) developed comprehensive guidelines for evaluating gender equality action plans. These guidelines take into account inputs from the evaluation literature and guide you through the steps of the evaluation process.
Another very comprehensive guide was written in the course of the EU-funded project GenderTime, entitled A model for building a gender equality index for academic institutions. This 2016 guide addresses the problem of measuring gender equality in academia. It starts by defining the problems, argues for the importance of appropriate monitoring and evaluation, then provides detailed definitions and, finally, introduces different approaches. It also provides information on how to build a system of indicators.
The EQUAL-IST project produced a report based on the experiences of monitoring and evaluating GEPs in seven research-performing organisations. The report presents the assessment methodology and indicators used in the project’s monitoring process and provides a monitoring template plan.
The wheel toolkit, designed by the EU-funded project ‘Systemic action for gender equality’ (SAGE) (2017), aims to assist organisations in implementing and sustaining change in cycles. At each cycle, the organisation should reassess itself and carry out changes towards gender equality. It includes a comprehensive three-phase approach to GEPs and institutional changes. Check out the project report entitled Mapping tools for the evaluation of gender equality plans.
If you want to see more examples of how data was collected in other organisations, check out the Structural Transformation to Achieve Gender Equality in Science – Guidelines (pp. 29–34), produced by the EU-funded project ‘Structural transformation to achieve gender equality in science’ (STAGES). In this project, strategies for structural change were launched in a number of research organisations; the guidelines were written based on the experiences in these organisations.
Examples of useful monitoring and evaluation indicators
The gender equality monitoring tool of the EU-funded project TARGET provides multiple examples of defining indicators for different target areas. It builds on a logic model, showing the way from the input and set activities to the different outputs, outcomes and general impact. For each dimension in this model, example targets and indicators are provided.
The EU-funded project PLOTINA created a monitoring tool based on 10 core indicators and 40 specific indicators, which can be selected based on the focus of your GEP. See the full list of indicators.
Baltic Gender developed an updated version of its handbook of gender indicators, which describes gender-sensitive indicators and provides information on the rationale, the data needed, the computation method, and initial ideas for data analysis and critical issues.
The EU-funded project ‘Female empowerment in science and technology academia’ (FESTA) provides a thorough guide on quantitative indicators and methodology in its FESTA toolkit.
Science Europe developed a Practical guide to improving gender equality in research organisations; part two of the document deals with ‘How to monitor gender equality’ (p. 26).
The ‘Gender equality network in the European research area’ (GENERA) planning–action–monitoring (PAM) tool can help you find measures, indicators and targets for GEPs in the field of physics. You can choose to click through the online tool or download the entire PAM tool as a PDF document.
The following databases and tools can help you get an overview of how your country is performing compared with other European countries regarding selected gender equality indicators: She Figures2021, EIGE’s gender statistics database or the data dashboards of the project ‘Gender equality in the European research area community to innovate policy implementation’ (GENDERACTION).
Ready-to-use monitoring and evaluation tools
The EU-funded project ‘Gender equality in engineering through communication and commitment’ (GEECCO) developed various evaluation and monitoring materials, including an Excel template and a PowerPoint tutorial for collecting and analysing sex-disaggregated data in research-performing organisations. It covers the three core areas of (1) decision-making processes and bodies, (2) recruitment and career development of women researchers and staff and (3) the sex/gender dimension in research and teaching content.
The PLOTINA monitoring tool is an online tool that can help you measure and visualise your progress over time. Watch the tutorial video in the tab ‘Videos and webinars’ to get started.
The EU-funded project ‘Gender diversity impact – improving research and innovation through gender diversity’ (GEDII) produced a gender diversity index based on the share of women in different positions, by age and other factors. A self-assessment tool was also developed; you can enter the relevant numbers for your organisation directly on the website and receive your gender diversity score automatically. This score can be calculated repeatedly to monitor change within an organisation.
The ‘Evaluation framework for promoting gender equality in research and innovation’ (EFFORTI) toolbox 2.0, designed in 2019 by the EU-funded project EFFORTI, provides instruments for ex ante and ongoing GEP evaluation. It allows you to compile a customised gender equality intervention or evaluation design and to simulate ideal processes, outcomes and effects. The impact story knowledge base provides the user with the necessary tools to understand ‘how’ gender equality measures are supposed to work and will support the formulation of programme theories. The programme theory generator represents the practical tool that helps you to generate your own customised logic model. The evaluation framework is a wiki-style knowledge base that includes a diversified set of reports, analyses and key literature to provide you with an in-depth insight into the project’s evolution.
Report templates to communicate your results
The EU-funded structural change project ‘Institutional transformation for effecting gender equality in research’ (INTEGER) prepared a number of reporting templates, providing suggestions for the structure and relevant content to be covered. Take a look at the context report template, the process report template, the impact report template and the final report template for inspiration and guidance.