European research still suffers from persistent barriers and constraints to gender equality in the recruitment, advancement and mobility of scientists in the European scientific system, as well as the lack of women in decision-making and the unbalanced representation in the evaluation process of research projects. Statistical evidence suggests that research funding success rates are higher for male than for female researchers. The gender dimension also needs to be further integrated in research programmes and contents. The ERA Progress report 2014 indicates that there are wide disparities among Member States in their awareness and acknowledgement of direct and indirect gender discriminations in research systems as well as in the means they mobilise to overcome them. The challenge is to improve on all these points and advance towards completing the European Research Area in the field of gender equality in research and innovation.
A first ERA-NET on gender equality in R&I policy called GENDER-NET was funded under FP7 for the period 2013-2016. It helped mapping and analysing existing national and regional programmes and initiatives aiming at promoting gender equality through institutional change in research organisations, as well as the gender dimension in research contents and programmes. It also aimed at developing common indicators for the monitoring of gender equality policies, and identifying priority activities for strategic transnational cooperation.
On the basis of the priorities identified by GENDER-NET, collaboration will be further supported between Member States and Associated Countries, their research programmes and their initiatives addressing the shared challenges described above.
The ERA-NET Cofund action shall extend the partnership to other Member States and Associated Countries, and enlarge the mapping and analysis to these new partners. Moreover, joint assessments will be extended to the quantitative and qualitative analysis of gender differences and bias in access to research grants. The ERA-NET Cofund action shall help define and develop appropriate conditions for equal opportunities in research funding.
The ERA-NET Cofund action will also launch, co-fund, and monitor strategic transnational cooperation/ actions in support of the implementation of the ERA objectives and based on the priorities identified by GENDER-NET, both from the angle of institutional change in research performing and funding organisations and in view of integrating the gender dimension in research programmes and contents. Priorities may include initiatives such as support to gender equality plans, and development of monitoring systems and of evaluation strategies.
Monitoring arrangements, including indicators, shall be further developed and used.
Proposals should pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing a joint call for proposals resulting in grants to third parties with EU co-funding, aiming at institutional change and integrating the gender dimension in research contents.
Proposers are encouraged to include other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.
The ERA-NET Cofound action is expected to strengthen the development of gender equality measures in research and innovation across the EU and consequently improve the overall research productivity. Through mutual learning, it will improve the implementation of research and innovation programmes and monitoring of gender equality policies.
The ERA-NET Cofound action will help overcome the disparities among countries and implement appropriate conditions for equal opportunities in the research programmes of the participating countries. It will foster closer cooperation and greater pooling of resources between regional, national and EU-wide research programmes. By mobilising Member States and Associated Countries funding and scaling it up, it will contribute to the implementation of the gender priority of the ERA Roadmap.