Integration of the sex/gender dimension into research and teaching content
The inclusion of the sex/gender dimension means that differences, whether biological or social, are taken into account in research and teaching. Our knowledge is the basis on which future generations will build their societies. It is therefore crucial that the knowledge that is created through research and transferred through education is free of gender bias.
Looking at potential sex and/or gender differences and at issues related to gender equality generates added value in terms of research excellence, rigour, reproducibility and creativity; brings in-depth understanding of all people’s needs, behaviours and attitudes; and enhances the societal relevance of research and innovation (R & I). Integrating the gender dimension into educational activities, including teaching curricula and public engagement, is also essential for the proper training of the next generations of researchers and innovators.
The integration of the gender dimension addresses the incorporation of sex and/or gender analysis through the entire R & I cycle. This includes setting research priorities through defining concepts, formulating research questions, developing methodologies, gathering and analysing sex-disaggregated data, evaluating and reporting results, and transferring them to markets as innovations and products. The integration of the gender dimension is relevant in various R & I fields.
The gender equality plan (GEP) should consider how the gender dimension will be incorporated into the content of research or educational activities and into the outputs of the organisation:
- the GEP can set out the organisation’s commitment to incorporating gender equality in its R & I priorities;
- the GEP can establish processes for ensuring that sex and gender analysis is considered in the design and outputs of research and teaching;
- the GEP can set out the provision of support and capacities for researchers to develop methodologies that incorporate the sex/gender dimension;
- the GEP can set out the support and capacity provided for teachers to develop curricula that incorporate the sex/gender dimension.
Moreover, the following measures might be considered:
- integration of the sex/gender dimension into the monitoring of research output and programme outcomes, for example the number of project-related peer-reviewed publications and research projects that include a sex/gender dimension, the number of innovations that can be classified as gender sensitive, and the number of applications, high-quality applications and funded projects that have a sex/gender dimension and that fully take sex/gender into account in their methodological approach;
- awareness-raising activities among researchers and prospective applicants about the sex/gender dimension of R & I, for instance through academic conferences, briefings and training opportunities;
- integration of the sex/gender dimension as a criterion in the quality assurance and approval processes for research and teaching programmes, including a review of whether the sex/gender dimension has been appropriately considered in their design;
- establishment of a dedicated department or interdisciplinary research institute within the organisation for coordinated and institutionalised gender research activities in order to evidence and inform the state of the art in gender research knowledge and practice;
- establishment of respective research programmes, licences, master’s and doctoral programmes, and accreditation procedures.
R & I organisations that distribute funding might consider the following questions in their GEP.
- Do funding programmes encourage or require prospective applicants to consider the sex/gender dimension in their work, including the scope of their research inquiry and the potential impact of their research results on different groups?
- Do strategic research funding objectives include a sex/gender dimension? Are there specific calls or opportunities that are designed to stimulate research around the gender dimension across different disciplines?
- Do funding decisions have processes for identifying or flagging where sex and/or gender analysis should be considered and mechanisms for evaluating how research projects account for the sex/gender dimension, as part of evaluation criteria for research excellence and impact?
- Is sufficient expertise incorporated into decision-making processes, including peer-review processes and panels, to assess the sex/gender dimension of project applications or in other types of research assessment exercises?
Examples of documents and guidelines are provided in the tab ‘Tools and resources’.
Consider the following points on integrating a sex/gender dimension into research and teaching.
- A subject is considered sex- / gender-relevant when it can be expected that its findings affect (groups of) women and men, or girls and boys, differently.
- Integrating the gender dimension in the research content requires the consideration of sex and gender aspects throughout all stages of the research cycle: in the definition of research questions and hypotheses, in the selection of research methods, during the running of research activities, and in the analysis and reporting of results.
- Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research topics often appear to be gender-neutral. In such cases, the following questions can be asked about aspects that are not gender-neutral: Who decides on the research agenda? Whose interests and needs are served with the research? Who will be the users of the knowledge that is to be produced? Who can benefit and in what way from the research? It is always relevant to produce research that has a high societal value and can provide answers to societal needs.
- When including the gender dimension in research projects, it is often necessary to broaden the perspective and also consider other dimensions of diversity. To that end, an intersectional approach can be helpful. Read more about intersectionality here.
- Teachers’ and lecturers’ interactions with students are unconsciously influenced by gender stereotypes. Young people also hold stereotypical beliefs about women’s and men’s ‘natural’ abilities. Countering such stereotypes allows everyone to engage with science in all its aspects without constraints set by ungrounded preconceptions.
In order to get more detailed information and guidance on how to integrate the gender dimension into research and teaching, 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). Some of the examples focus on research funding but may also be relevant to internal resource allocation in universities and other research organisations:
- description of the research programme of the University of Latvia for 2015–2020, University of Latvia, Latvia,
- equal funding of innovations, Vinnova, Sweden,
- funding advisement, Technische Universität Wien, Austria,
- gender in research fellowship, Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), the Netherlands,
- Gender4STEM, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Luxembourg,
- GenderResearch4COVID-19 support, Foundation for Science and Technology, and Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality, Portugal,
- Julie Hamáčková award, University of Chemistry and Technology, Czechia,
- model for equal distribution of research funds, Kristianstad University, Sweden,
- gender dimension in research content as a criterion for the evaluation of research proposals, Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, Czechia,
- various activities to promote and build capacity for gender mainstreaming in university curricula and research, University of Malta, Malta,
- Women and Science Committee, Spanish National Research Council, Spain.
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.
- The EU-funded project ‘Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training’ (PLOTINA) provides a library of actions, focusing on issues such as career progression and work–life balance, but also the integration of sex and gender in teaching curricula. How to integrate the gender dimension into research is also shown, using case studies from different disciplines.
- Although limited to the members of the ‘Effective gender equality in research and academia’ (EGERA) consortium (seventh framework programme, 2014–2017), Collected Good Practices in Introducing Gender in Curricula provides useful and well-documented examples of good practices in mainstreaming gender in academic curricula.
- The short report by the project ‘Gender equality in engineering through communication and commitment’ (GEECCO) entitled Integrating the gender dimension in the content of research and innovation uses examples from the fields of energy transition, robotics, medicine and product development to show why it is important to take the gender dimension into account.
- 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.
- This short video by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research shows the relevance of sex and gender in health research.
- This video by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture shows three reasons why agricultural research should be gender-inclusive and three ways to do it.
- Videos by L. Schiebinger on the gender dimension in research content.
- Watch the integrating gender analysis into research (IGAR) video to learn why the integration of gender analysis into research is important and how the IGAR tool can support you in doing so.
- The EU-funded project ACT produced a number of great videos discussing various gender equality topics. Watch this video on the gender dimension.
- On 1 June 2021, the ‘Gender equality in the European research area community to innovate policy implementation’ (GENDERACTION) project organised a webinar on gender in research content. You can download the presentation here of the event.
- Watch this short video by the project ‘Gender equality actions in research institutions to transform gender roles’ (GEARING ROLES) to learn why inclusive innovation is important.
- Three videos created within the framework of the EU-funded project LIBRA show how to include sex and gender in (bio)medical research .
- Watch videos created within the framework of the EU-funded project GEECCO about why gender matters in the fields of humans and computers, robots in our society, energy for all, mobility for all, and inclusive design.
- The introductory online training on the sex and gender dimension in sciences and technology fields by the Gender Equality Academy aims to familiarise viewers with basic concepts and definitions about integrating sex and gender into research content, and also provides training material.
- The Gender Equality Academy also conducted several training sessions on the integration of the sex/gender dimension into specific research topics. It provides training materials and, for most of the sessions, seminar videos are also available.
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research have a number of free training modules on how to deal with sex and gender in health research on their website.
- Watch the webinar from the project ‘Gender equality in information science and technology’ (EQUAL-IST) to learn why a gender (and intersectional) approach should be integrated into your research project and how to do so.
- The EU-funded project ‘Systemic action for gender equality’ (SAGE) has developed a webinar entitled ‘The gender dimension in research’ to provide you with an understanding of how and why the gender dimension and/or the sex dimension should be included in your research.
The information provided in the GEAR action toolbox is strongly oriented towards the Horizon Europe Guidance on Gender Equality Plans. Consult the document directly for additional information and to access links to further good-practice examples.
Research and innovation
The Toolkit – Gender in EU-funded research clearly explains and provides guidance on how to integrate gender in research. It addresses both the gender dimension of research content (with case examples from nine different scientific fields) and women’s participation in research activities. One-day training sessions, based on the toolkit, can be organised.
‘Gendered innovations’ is a website providing recommendations, examples, case studies and tools related to sex and gender analysis in research content for various scientific fields.
The report Gendered Innovations 2: How inclusive analysis contributes to research and innovation and addressing areas such as health, artificial intelligence and robotics, energy, transport, marine science and climate change, urban planning, agriculture, fair taxation and venture funding, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
An article by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation entitled ‘Man flu, headaches and heart attacks: health issues affect men and women differently’ informs readers of the sex differences in health.
The EU-funded GENDER-NET project developed the IGAR tool. The aim of the tool is to provide organisations, researchers and peer reviewers / evaluators with the know-how to integrate sex and gender considerations into policies, programmes and projects, and to raise awareness of the importance of sex and gender in R & I. Guidelines and checklists for IGAR were developed for research funding organisations, grant applicants and peer reviewers / evaluators. Useful references and examples are also available, along with the IGAR indicators. See also the recommendations and models for integrating gender analysis into university curricula.
Journals have adopted the sex and gender equity in research (SAGER) guidelines, which aim to guide authors on how to report sex and gender information in study design, data analyses, results and the interpretation of findings.
The SAGE project compiled a report entitled Embedding Gender Knowledge that provides guidelines for integrating sex and gender into scientific research throughout the whole research process.
The purpose of the literature review on gender research in human–computer interaction (HCI), compiled in the course of the EU-funded project GEECCO, is to provide readers with a basic understanding of gender and HCI, present an overview of how gender research in various HCI contexts has been conducted and documented, and provide recommendations for making HCI research gender-aware and more inclusive.
The report Best practice examples of gender mainstreaming in research funding organisations was released as part of the EU-funded GEECCO project in 2018 and provides the state of the art of the recent developments in research funding organisations at the level of the European research area (ERA), including Switzerland and Norway, and in Canada.
Research and teaching
The Toolkit for integrating gender-sensitive approach into research and teaching, produced as part of the EU-funded project ‘Gendering the academy and research: combating career instability and asymmetries’ (GARCIA), helps researchers to integrate the gender dimension into their ongoing research and teaching, and to apply it when designing new projects and curricula for students.
Manuals with guidelines on the integration of sex and gender analysis into research contents, recommendations for curricula development and indicators is a report by the EU-funded research policy initiative GENDER-NET. The aim of the report is to provide national/regional research funding and research-performing organisations with the know-how to integrate sex and gender considerations into policies, programmes, plans and strategies, and to raise awareness of the importance of sex and gender in R & I.
The GEECCO report Analysis of current data on gender in research and teaching analyses the main research fields and recent Horizon 2020 projects of four research-performing organisations and points out the (possible) gender dimensions. Similarly, selected curricula and corresponding courses were analysed to identify existing gender content and opportunities for the inclusion of gender perspectives in the current curricula.
The guidelines Gender-sensitive Teaching – An introduction for teaching staff in STEM, developed as part of the EU-funded Baltic Gender project in 2020, provide a framework for eliminating gender stereotypes and creating a positive and encouraging working environment. Examples and recommendations focus on marine science, which is the realm of the Baltic Gender project, but have a broader validity for STEM.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publication A Guide for Gender Equality in Teacher Education Policy and Practiceswas conceived in 2015 as a practical tool for promoting a gender-responsive institutional culture. It seeks to strengthen the capacity of teacher educators, managers and student teachers to transform their practices effectively through innovative participatory approaches to teaching and learning.
Guidelines on Gender Fair Curriculum Development (2010) present a diagnosis tool and a catalogue of aspects to be considered in developing a gender-fair curriculum to improve equality of access and success for both women and men students in higher education.
Since 2007, the Women’s and Gender Research Network NRW has connected professors and scientists located in academic institutions in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In the context of the research project ‘Gender in bachelor and master courses’, it developed and published an online model database including 55 subjects/disciplines across the main fields of science and engineering, with a gender-sensitive curricula proposed for each. The database contents are updated regularly.
The gender in the curriculum self-assessment and diagnostic checklist from the GEARING ROLES project outlines some key ideas that need to be considered to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in the curriculum. It is provided as a checklist that allows institutional actors to self-assess the extent to which they already mainstream gender in their curriculum. It also provides some possible avenues of action where necessary.
The gender and diversity in teaching toolbox can assist you with planning and designing classes and expanding your own gender and diversity competences. No background knowledge is required to use the toolbox. The toolbox includes a starter kit with material on gender- and diversity-conscious language, guidelines and handouts on developing gender and diversity skills, recommendations for didactics, and cross-disciplinary and discipline-specific suggestions for integrating gender and diversity research in teaching.
The EU-funded project EGERA collected good practices on introducing gender into curricula.