Priorities and activities to be co-financed
One of the fundamental issues to tackle in order to reach gender equality is the persistence of gender stereotypes. From a very young age onwards, children are exposed to gender roles that shape their self-perception and influence their academic and professional choices as well as expectations of their roles as women and men throughout their life. Furthermore, gender stereotypes keep on influencing choices with regard to employment and combination of work and private life. Digitalisation can in this respect both offer opportunities and challenges to address gender stereotypes.
This call for proposals shall focus on actions in order to raise awareness and tackle gender stereotypes in education, in particular in early childhood education and care and in schools, and in educational and occupational choices in a digitalised world. Therefore, priorities shall be on:
1. Tackling gender stereotypes in education and early childhood care, focusing on measures such as those aiming at changing attitudes, behaviours and practices that hamper progress towards equality and restrict the potential of girls and boys. They shall target specifically childhood environments (kindergartens, pre-schools and schools), in terms of those who are delivering care and in the messages delivered, the choices of tools, pedagogical material, or the design of settings, etc.
One of the crucial elements is the awareness of professionals of the early childhood care and education sectors of their own unconscious bias affecting their interactions with boys and girls, and their active involvement in ensuring a gender-transformative environment for girls and boys and their families. Capacity-building and training activities are therefore encouraged.
2. Tackling gender stereotypes in educational and career choices in a digitalised world, focusing on the opportunities and challenges of ongoing digitalisation on tackling gender stereotypes. Particularly, on how digitalisation can benefit all students and workers/employees (e.g. new forms of work, upskilling for workers), to positively impact gender equality and to help break gender stereotypes. Furthermore, proposals shall address how the risks of reproducing gender stereotypes through digitalisation (e.g. algorithms, artificial intelligence) can be mitigated.
By combatting harmful negative gender stereotypes and discriminatory practices in education and early childhood care, and in addressing the potential and pitfalls of digitalisation on educational and professional choices, proposals are to impact positively on girls and boys perception of gender roles.
The call for proposals aims to raise awareness of gender equality issues from an early age, to fight differential treatment of girls and boys and of women and men according to gender assumptions in order to ultimately overcome gender stereotypes with regard to roles of women and men at home, at work and in society.
The call for proposals is in line with current policy developments at EU level, including the initiative on work-life balance for working parents and carers of April 2017, the Gender Pay Action Plan of November 2017 and falls under the first and second thematic priority areas of the European Commission Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019.
2. Description of the activities
Activities shall include:
1. Tackling gender stereotypes in education and early childhood care
- activities tackling negative attitudes and stereotypes with regard to gender roles in early childhood education and care systems, and educational and career choices;
- awareness-raising, education and empowerment activities; in particular awareness-raising activities for professionals of pre-school and school systems on an education, work and life free of stereotypes, including gender roles and attitudes towards domestic work, care, work and public life.
2. Tackling gender stereotypes in educational and career choices in a digitalised world
- activities focusing on the impact of digitalisation on career and professional choices, highlighting its opportunities and tackling potential hindrances as well as mitigating the risks that certain digitalised instruments bring about in intensifying gender stereotypes (e.g. gender bias through use of algorithms for recruitment procedures);
- exchange of good practice, mutual learning, seminars, in particular, activities promoting good practice examples;
- training activities for professionals of childhood care in the education sector and in the world of work; or with regard to overcoming gender stereotypes and roles in early childhood environments and in a digitalised world.
Support of public authority
It is strongly encouraged to involve a public authority, including regional and local authorities, to be actively participate in the projects. This support will be expressed through Annex 5 - Letter from the public authority supporting the application and will be assessed under the award criterion b) quality.
These public authorities can be: Ministries and/or agencies responsible for children (e.g. child protection agencies and services), Ministries for children, child protection, social services, social protection, justice, children's ombudspersons and/or national human rights institutes for children, responsible regional authorities, etc. The rationale for the choice must be documented and explained in Part B Project description and implementation.
To ensure complementarity with other EU funded actions, proposals may consider similar activities supported via other EU programmes such as the Framework Programme for research and innovation - Horizon 2020.
3. Expected results
gender stereotypes and negative gender roles are tackled, through awareness raising and training of those who are in daily contact with children, in early childhood education, care systems, schools and companies or bodies which foster educational and professional choices;
increased knowledge and practices are shared with regard to more informed educational and occupational choices in a changing world due to digitalisation;
both boys and girls and men and women develop their skills without stereotypes gender prejudices and feel more comfortable in an equal sharing of care and domestic work at household level, and they are able to develop their skills and training which will lead to less gender segregation in career choices and occupational choices.
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Applicants are invited to take note of previously funded projects. The continuation or follow-up of successful initiatives, including the scaling-up of existing initiatives and/or testing them in a different context, may be funded if it is aligned with one of the priorities. However, the exact duplication of an initiative will not be funded.
Applicants shall explain and demonstrate how their proposals are aligned with the respective EU policies and with the documents published by the European Commission or referred to below (see bibliography). The degree of relevance to the priorities of the call for proposals will be assessed under the award criterion ‘a) relevance’.
Applying behavioural insights
Applicants are encouraged – wherever possible – to apply insights and practical tools from behavioural sciences in their projects in view of achieving changes in attitudes and behaviour. Below is a step-by-step approach to guide applicants in the incorporation of behavioural insights in their projects. For illustrative purposes, there are references included to examples related to gender-based violence in the footnotes, as this methodology has been developed and applied often in this context, though the same reasoning applies to other issues, such as tackling gender stereotypes in this context.
1) First, applicants should provide a clear description of the issue that will be tackled by the proposed action. If we consider attitudes and stereotypes with regard to education, educational and career choices , the description should specify the type(s) of behaviour (or attitudes) or practices (for instance s) that will be covered by the proposed action. Additionally, the objective(s) of the action should be clearly defined. These should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) and should be set ahead of the action.
2) Second, the proposed action should identify the underlying determinants (also called behavioural causes) of the issue at stake. This could be, for example, different expectations of teachers from girls and boys or from their mothers and fathers.. As the issues identified under point 1 likely have multiple underlying determinants, the proposed action could focus on several of these, or on only one. Each of the different underlying determinants the projects aims to tackle should be clearly indicated in the proposal.
3) Third, the proposed action should encourage a specific target group(s) to perform target behaviour(s) or discourage them from doing so. Actions may aim, for instance, at changing girls and boys career choices (e.g. more girls in ICT, more boys in care, etc).
4) Fourth, once the target group(s), the underlying determinants and the target behaviour are identified, applicants should describe the solutions (also called behavioural levers) that will be implemented. For example, if the proposed action aims at reducing the social acceptance of gender roles and gendered choices in life and in the world of work, the project could focus on changing social norms (if for example, awareness of indirect stereotypes in behaviour or expectation towards girls and boys, women and men) by for instance professionals dealing with the target groups as part of the intervention.
5) Fifth, the proposed action should specify the outcome that the proposed solution aims at generating and how the outcome(s) will be measured. Outcomes refer to impact, change in attitudes or behavioural change resulting from the action, and should not be confused with project outputs (e.g. number of leaflets published, number of people reached). If possible, projects should propose a measurable objective, compared to a baseline.. For example, if the goal is to change attitudes of a certain group of professionals, projects should not only measure how many attended training, but also ask them about their attitudes before and after the training. All interventions should include collection of relevant data, to be able to compare the situation before and after the project.
6) Sixth, to find out whether the proposed actions will have the desired effects, ideally the project should include a phase of pre-testing the solutions before implementing them in full-scale. Such ex-ante assessment of the expected effect of the intervention will provide valuable insights on whether the proposed action has the intended effects and helps to ensure that, once fully deployed, the action focus is on what works. One possibility would be to use a randomised controlled trial.
7) Seventh, the proposed action should include an evaluation of impact. Such evaluation should be part of the initial project plan, to make sure that the most appropriate evaluation design is used, and to set up valid outcomes measures (together with robust and feasible metrics) that allow the actual impact of the action to be determined. Several evaluation methods can be used such as after-only designs, before-after or pre-post designs, RCTs and field experiments.
Projects funded under this call shall seek to promote equality between women and men. Gender mainstreaming means integrating a gender equality perspective in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of a project. Gender mainstreaming entails incorporating a gender equality perspective in core activities and processes, to ensure that project outcomes support and promote equality between women and men. Gender mainstreaming is the responsibility of the actors normally involved in the project work. Consequently, the applicant shall take the necessary steps to ensure that gender equality issues are taken into account, throughout the project, by paying attention to the situation and particular needs of women and men. Projects should promote equality between women and men, contribute to empowering women and ensure women enjoy the same rights as men, and do not discriminate either women or men.
Projects funded under this call shall also comply with the prohibition of discrimination based on any of the grounds listed in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the "Charter"), in accordance with and within the limits set by Article 51 of the Charter. Among others the Commission encourages applicants to promote equal employment opportunities for all its staff and team. The beneficiary is encouraged to foster an appropriate mix of people, whatever their ethnic origin, religion, age, gender and ability.
Finally, all projects under this call shall respect and shall be implemented in line with the rights and principles enshrined in the Charter.
Monitoring and evaluation
Appropriate attention has to be given to developing a robust evidence base and involving reliable monitoring, evaluation and reporting procedures based on recognised methodological approaches, developed by a competent and experienced policy impact evaluator (for further details please refer to "Applying Behavioural Sciences to EU Policy-making", Joint Research Centre Scientific and Policy Report (2013): http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC83284.pdf), in consultation with the relevant project partners. This should include defining the expected impact of the activity in measurable terms and defining a robust methodology and indicators to measure the impact of the activity. Though applicants are free to choose the method for evaluating the impact of the activities, the method should be robust and appropriate, and involve rigorous data collection and monitoring. (for further details please refer to "Social Experimentation - A methodological guide for policy makers", Written by J-Pal Europe, at the request of Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) – see bibliography. See also Turning the Curve: outcomes-based accountability in the bibliography.
Proposals must make provisions to document the number of persons reached, provide anonymised data disaggregated by sex and by age, and must describe in their grant application how this will be done and how the target group will be reached.
Sustainability of projects and dissemination of results
Applications should also include a clear communication, dissemination and sustainability plan, with measures to maintain and monitor results after the end of funding. Applicants should also describe the potential for scaling up the measure, should the activities produce the expected results. The projects should aim at ensuring their durability and appropriate dissemination, including at the end of funding (by promoting and enabling access to their results to the widest possible audience).
Gender equality, stereotypes in education in a digitalised world:
Policy documents/background information:
Data and reports:
Behavioural insights and experimentation:
Monitoring and evaluation:
Further details can be found in Section 3 'Understanding the causes of target behaviour' Sara Rafael Almeida, Joana Sousa Lourenço, Dessart François Jacques, and Emanuele Ciriolo. Insights from behavioural sciences to prevent and combat violence against women. Literature review (2016) pp. 8-13 https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/insights-behavioural-sciences-prevent-and-combat-violence-against-women-literature-review
Further details on potential target groups, subgroups and behaviours to be targeted by actions can be found in Section 2 'Identifying the target group and target behaviour' Sara Rafael Almeida, Joana Sousa Lourenço, Dessart François Jacques, and Emanuele Ciriolo. Insights from behavioural sciences to prevent and combat violence against women. Literature review (2016) pp. 7-8 https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/insights-behavioural-sciences-prevent-and-combat-violence-against-women-literature-review
Further details on behavioural solutions can be found in Section 4.3.1. 'Content of the message: behavioural levers' Sara Rafael Almeida, Joana Sousa Lourenço, Dessart François Jacques, and Emanuele Ciriolo. Insights from behavioural sciences to prevent and combat violence against women. Literature review (2016) pp. 16-25 https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/insights-behavioural-sciences-prevent-and-combat-violence-against-women-literature-review
Further details on qualitative and quantitative pretesting methods can be found in Section 5 'Pretesting the initiative' Sara Rafael Almeida, Joana Sousa Lourenço, Dessart François Jacques, and Emanuele Ciriolo. Insights from behavioural sciences to prevent and combat violence against women. Literature review (2016) pp. 25-28 https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/insights-behavioural-sciences-prevent-and-combat-violence-against-women-literature-review
In case quantitative pretesting using a randomised controlled trial (RCT) is carried out, this phase includes the identification of the most feasible randomisation unit (i.e., individual or group). For example, the initiative could be delivered in all universities of Region A (the treatment group), keeping the curriculum of universities of Region B (the control group) unchanged (randomisation at the group level). The inclusion of a control group and the use of randomisation allow the comparison of the outcome of in Region A against the outcome in Region B, hence determining whether the intervention was effective, all other things being equal. See « Test, Learn, Adapt » (UK BIT, 2012) for more information on this approach.
Further details on evaluation methods can be found in Section 6 'Evaluating the impact of the initiative' Sara Rafael Almeida, Joana Sousa Lourenço, Dessart François Jacques, and Emanuele Ciriolo. Insights from behavioural sciences to prevent and combat violence against women. Literature review (2016) pp. 28-33 https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/insights-behavioural-sciences-prevent-and-combat-violence-against-women-literature-review
Council of Europe definition: “The (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy-making. See the Council of Europe: https://www.coe.int/en/web/genderequality/what-is-gender-mainstreaming