Step 5: Monitoring progress and evaluating a Gender Equality Plan

Monitoring and evaluation are important parts of the change process. As you know by now, a gender equality plan (GEP) will typically address several issues at once, leading to a complex set of measures. Nonetheless, effective monitoring and evaluation tools enable you to measure progress towards achieving the objectives, and provide an opportunity to learn and find out what needs to be improved. If objectives are oriented towards relevant progress, success or outreach indicators, it becomes visible whether the organisation is actually changing.

This might also increase the commitment of stakeholders to those objectives, and the accountability of those who implement the GEP. Having an appropriate monitoring and evaluation plan in place can support the effective implementation of measures, ensure accountability, and enhance your knowledge and understanding of ongoing changes. This way, you also know whether adjustments to your GEP are needed.

Besides these logical arguments for considering monitoring and evaluation from the very beginning, it is also a GEP requirement in Horizon Europe. You need to be aware that, in order 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’ (see Horizon Europe Guidance on Gender Equality Plans, pp. 23–27).

More explicitly, it is specified that ‘research funding organisations will need to examine their application evaluation procedures and consider the organisation’s broader programming and decision-making processes in terms of the outcomes and impact of funding decisions and associated policy frameworks that impact on gender equality in R & I [research and innovation]’ (see Horizon Europe Guidance on Gender Equality Plans, p. 14).

While this step comes only after planning and implementing your GEP, as laid out in the step-by-step guide (because that is when you start monitoring the effects of your measures), you need to know that the monitoring and evaluation strategy needs to be set out beforehand.

Ideally, you considered which areas you want to focus on in step 2 when analysing and assessing the status quo in your organisation. In step 3, you then identified specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related (SMART) targets and measures addressing these areas. In order to develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy, use the status quo assessment as a starting point. The results of this assessment will establish the baseline, which will allow you to monitor and evaluate your progress.

In order to view videos and webinars or further tools and resources on the topics discussed in step 5, switch between the respective tabs. Otherwise, click below to continue to the next step and read about how to ensure the sustainability of your measures. You can also go back to the previous step.

  • The EU-funded project SPEAR prepared video presentations to help practitioners understand the steps involved in the process of implementing a GEP. The videos are based on the steps provided in this GEAR step-by-step guide. Note that there are also tasks for you to perform at the end of some of the videos, to check your understanding of the topics.
    GEAR tool – steps 5 and 6
  • 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 GEAM tool also provides useful training videos. 

The following are general tools and resources to be used by all research organisations. Funding bodies may find them particularly helpful for addressing internal stakeholders and processes. Specific tools and resources for funding bodies can be found in the action toolbox in Section 4.3.10.

Guidelines for creating a monitoring and evaluation strategy

  • To get an idea about indicators for research bodies that are relevant to decision-making and the integration of gender in R & I, have a look at the EU-funded project TARGET.
  • To assess structural change, the EU-funded project ‘Transforming organisational culture for gender equality in research and innovation’ (GENOVATE) has developed comprehensive guidelines for evaluating gender equality action plans. These guidelines have several specific features:
    • they fully take inputs from the evaluation literature into account, carefully identifying the steps of the evaluation process and defining a theory of change adapted to the project’s purpose;
    • they also draw upon the insights from the critical analysis of gender mainstreaming implementation in a number of domains, thus highlighting the specific hindrances and resistance faced by social and organisational change aiming to achieve gender equality;
    • furthermore, they focus on three fundamental dimensions of change: ideas, structures and people.
  • 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 and arguing for the importance of appropriate monitoring and evaluation, then provides detailed definitions and, finally, introduces different approaches. It also describes in detail how to build a system of indicators.
  • The EFFORTI toolbox provides a framework for ‘a wide range of stakeholders – ministries, funding agencies, programme owners, equality officers, etc. – to conduct a sound and comprehensive evaluation of gender equality, but also research and innovation outputs, outcomes and impacts of gender equality measures’.
  • The ‘Gender equality in information science and technology’ (EQUAL-IST) project published 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 monitoring process and provides a monitoring template plan.

Examples of useful monitoring and evaluation indicators

  • The gender equality monitoring tool of the EU-funded project TARGET provides multiple examples of how to define indicators for different target areas. It builds on a logic model, showing the pathway 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. Check out the full list of indicators.
  • The EU-funded project ‘Female empowerment in science and technology academia’ (FESTA) provided a thorough guide on quantitative indicators and methodology in its FESTA toolkit.
  • 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.

Ready-to-use monitoring and evaluation tools

  • The PLOTINA monitoring tool is an online tool that can help you measure and visualise your progress over different periods. It consists of a virtual survey and a visualisation tool, presenting your data and an overall indicator. Watch the tutorial video in the tab ‘Videos and webinars’ to get started.
  • See also the GEAM survey by the EU-funded project ACT. The survey is readily available in multiple languages and is already programmed via LimeSurvey.
  • The EU-funded project 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. The three core areas covered are (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.