Step 3: Setting up a Gender Equality Plan

After carrying out an assessment of the gender equality status quo (see step 2) in your organisation, you can start setting up a gender equality plan (GEP). The findings of the initial analysis allow you to identify the areas of intervention to be addressed in your GEP. Keep in mind that your GEP needs to fulfil the Horizon Europe eligibility criterion, and therefore should address these specific areas of intervention. Find more information here.

At this stage, it is crucial to actively involve people in senior management and leadership positions in deciding on the areas of intervention to be addressed and the measures to be identified in your GEP. Their involvement will ensure a smoother and more effective implementation of the proposed measures. Consider also including the members of the team that carried out the initial assessment (see step 2) in the development of the GEP.

However, not all relevant areas of intervention can be tackled at the same time, and some may be more pressing than others. Set the priorities for your organisation considering the initial assessment of step 2, the available resources and, of course, the Horizon Europe eligibility criterion.

When developing the GEP, keep in mind that it needs to be holistic and integrated. This means that the identified areas of intervention are interdependent. Consider also the five levels (structure, personnel, power, culture and context) that you should involve in the development of your GEP, as outlined in section 2.1 ‘What is a gender equality plan’. The GEP will address issues that are relevant to the whole community and organisational system. There are several basic elements to be taken into account when setting up the GEP:

  • objectives
  • measures
  • indicators
  • targets
  • timeline
  • responsibilities

During the development process, consider how to connect the GEP to other important strategy documents and processes of your organisation to foster the sustainable institutionalisation of gender equality. Below we explain how these elements are taken into consideration in the process of setting up a GEP.

If you are interested in general tools and resources to support you in developing your GEP, click on the tab ‘Tools and resources’. In addition, the SPEAR video on step 3 tells you all you need to know about developing a GEP:

SPEAR Gender equality in academia. EIGE’s GEAR tool step 3

You can find webinars about developing a GEP in the tab ‘Videos and webinars’. Otherwise, click below to continue to the next step and learn how to implement your GEP. You can also go back to the previous step.

  • The webinar ‘Introduction to gender equality plans’ (2020), developed by the Gender Equality Academy, aims to explore the concept of institutional change for gender equality in research-performing and research funding organisations, and how GEPs can be used for implementing it in view of achieving the three main European research area objectives.
  • In the GENDERACTION webinar ‘Gender equality plans in Horizon Europe’ you can learn about the Horizon Europe eligibility criterion, how to design a GEP, how to set up an implementation process, and about areas of change and requirements.
  • In the ‘Systemic action for gender equality’ (SAGE) project online course ‘Change management in gender equality’, you can examine the experiences of institutions in putting the SAGE model for institutional change into action and explore the process of developing and implementing GEPs. The webinar also looks at how other research institutions can adapt the model to identify measures required to create their GEP.

Generally supportive tools and resources

  • Take a look at this infographic, developed as part of the EU-funded project ‘Gender equality in engineering through communication and commitment’ (GEECCO), before starting the process of GEP design to get an idea of different gender equality approaches.
  • To get inspiration, have a look at the SAGE wheel, but keep in mind that it was developed before the Horizon Europe eligibility criterion was established.
  • The SPEAR creative, open, mitigating, processual, accountable, SMART, sustainable (COMPASS) methodology, developed in 2021 by the EU-funded project SPEAR, is a holistic and practical approach that can help you draft an effective and sustainable GEP and implement gender equality change measures in your organisation. The COMPASS methodology draws upon seven carefully selected principles (creative, open, mitigating, processual, accountable, SMART, sustainable) and provides hands-on planning tools.
  • The Co-design guidelines for the development and reporting of scenarios, developed in the EU-funded CALIPER project, aim to help organisations develop a tailored co-design strategy and build tailored strategic change scenarios for developing GEPs. The purpose of the methodology guidelines is twofold: (1) design a co-design process and (2) design strategic change scenarios that will be the basis of the GEP design. The document also provides a toolkit with practical activities.
  • The ‘Gender equality in information science and technology’ (EQUAL-IST) project toolkit provides examples of good practice, concrete initiatives, tools and guidelines that were identified as being suitable for computer sciences and information systems departments/faculties to promote and make structural changes for gender equality at the level of universities or research organisations.
  • Users can choose their own measures from a complete list of measures that partners in the PLOTINA project prepared to support research-performing organisations in their choice. The list is divided into five key areas – (1) governance bodies, key actors and decision-makers, (2) recruitment, career progression and retention, (3) work and personal life integration, (4) researchers and research: gender equality, and sex and gender perspective and (5) integration of the sex/gender dimension in teaching curricula – and subdivided according to specific objectives to be achieved within each key area. It presents the manifold strategies/measures that can be adopted in order to reach gender equality.
  • The Guidelines to Design a Customised Gender Equality Plan (GEP), developed in the ‘Taking a reflexive approach to gender equality for institutional transformation’ (TARGET) project, provide concrete guidance for organisations on developing a GEP based on a gender equality audit. This general guidance document tries to help implementing institutions identify initial priorities of the GEP on the basis of the audits performed. Specifically, it walks them through how to use the results (of the audit) to design the GEP in a reflexive and participative way, thereby further embedding the GEP process within the institution.
  • To get inspiration for the design of your measures, the GEARING ROLES project provides a table of relevant resources structured along different action fields in its report Recommendations for GEP Report (p. 10).

Resources for establishing specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related objectives

Resources for identifying and utilising existing resources

  • The EU-funded project ‘Structural transformation to achieve gender equality in science’ (STAGES) shared its experiences regarding the integration and institutionalisation of gender equality in organisations’ strategic documents, provisions and procedures. Structural Transformation to Achieve Gender Equality in Science – Guidelines (pp. 42–45) provides several relevant insights. Consider especially ‘II. Engaging leaderships’ and ‘III. Policy-making and institutionalisation’.
  • More examples of awareness-raising and capacity-building activities can be found in the action toolbox.

Resources for building alliances

  • The EU-funded SAGE project developed short guidelines for the implementation of GEPs to help organisations in planning and managing the GEP process and to lower organisational resistance to change.

The EU-funded project STAGES shared its experiences regarding the engagement of leadership. Structural Transformation to Achieve Gender Equality in Science – Guidelines (pp. 35–39) provides some relevant insights.