GenPORT Policy Briefs Now Online!


The GenPORT team are proud to announce that the policy briefs are now online. The GenPORT policy brief series is geared to national level policy makers and institutional science leaders in research performing organisations (RPOs) and research funding organisations (RFOs). It consists of twenty-five policy briefs.


Twenty of these policy briefs are grouped around five themes:  Recruitment and Promotion, Gender Equality Plans, Gender Dimension in Research Content (RPOs), Gender Dimension in Research Content (RFOs) and Gender Balance in Decision-Making. They are targeted at different country groups according to levels of implementation as reported by research organisations and the presence or absence of measures at the national level.

The other five policy briefs focus on: tackling sexual harassment, intersectionality, securing top-level support for gender equality, building gender competence and knowledge and statistics and methodology –and are not targeted at a specific country group.

The European Research Area (ERA) is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy and its Innovation Union (IU) policy flagship. One of the five ERA priorities is gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research. The 2012 ERA Communication invites Member states to create a legal and policy environment conducive to gender equality and mainstreaming through:

  • removing barriers including legal barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers
  • addressing gender imbalances in decision making processes
  • strengthening the gender dimension in research programmes

It also invites member states to foster partnerships with research funders, research organisations and universities in order to push for institutional and cultural change on gender through charters, performance agreements and awards whilst ensuring that at least 40% of the under-represented sex participate in committees.

Research stakeholder organisations are invited to carry out “institutional change relating to HR management, funding, decision- making and research programmes through Gender Equality Plans which aim to:

  • Conduct impact assessment / audits of procedures and practices to identify gender bias
  • Implement innovative strategies to correct any bias
  • Set targets and monitor progress via indicators”

The European Commission has conducted two surveys (2012/3 and 2014) to measure the level of progress made by research organisations in the EU in implementing the policy priorities of the ERA. The ERA surveys include questions that explore the actions taken by research organisations to promote gender equality.

The country clusters that structure twenty of these policy briefs are based on the classification of countries according to the ERA facts and figures 2014 report.  Two variables define the clusters. The first regards self- reported levels of implementation (RPOs and RFOs) per country compared to the EU average - for example the percentage of RPOs that are implementing any recruitment and promotion policies for female researchers in a given country- compared to the EU average. The second variable concerns the presence (or not) of national level policy measures in this field according to the European Commission. On this basis five groups of countries- could be discerned:

  • Implementation above EU average, measures identified
  • Implementation above EU average
  • Implementation below EU average, measures identified
  • Implementation below EU average
  • No implementation

For each of the policy areas: Recruitment and Promotion Measures; Adoption of Gender Equality Plans in RPOs; Gender Dimension in Research Content (RPOs); Gender Dimension in Research Content (RFOs); Gender-Balance in Decision-Making –four country groups have been identified. In all policy areas (except Gender Dimension in Research Content [RFOs]) policy briefs are targeted at those four country groups with implementation above/ below EU average with/ without policy measures. In the case of Gender Dimension in Research Content (RFOs) - we have included the group of countries identified as having 'no implementation'- whilst 'frequent support above EU average' – is absent - as no country forms part of this group.

The policy briefs are structured on the basis of the survey findings despite the limitations of the ERA survey. The limitations of the survey include that it was a self-assessment so - the implementation figures are based on those organisations that reported that they were implementing certain measures. It only concerns those RPOs which answered the ERA survey (they employ 515 000 researchers -around 20% of total EU researchers). The sample for the ERA Survey was not randomly selected and the results have not been weighted due to a lack of substantiated information about the sample frame and the whole population of RPOs. This means producing inferential statistics about the wider population – is not possible.

Despite these limitations, structuring the policy briefs along these lines meant that we were able cover the range of countries from  ‘proactive’ countries to  ‘inactive’ countries.

The EC report on gender equality policies in public research highlights that policy developments over the last five years show a widening of the gap between proactive and relatively inactive countries as regards gender equality policies in R&I (France is the only country which has clearly improved its position from relatively inactive to proactive). There seems to be a real need for policy briefs targeted specifically at the group of countries deemed ‘inactive’ – in an attempt to bridge this policy gap. 

The policy briefs attempt to provide examples of legislation, policies, initiatives and measures that can be taken at both the national and institutional levels. These policy briefs are designed to be read by national level policy makers and institutional science leaders and will be updated twice during the course of the project to take the findings of new research into account.


We ask the GenPORT community to contribute to experiences of policy measures and examples of evaluations to the briefs through adding comments and joining our online discussions – to keep them up-to-date, useful and cutting edge. We hope that they will provide a sound basis for further policy action in the field of gender and science!

Encouraging the Recruitment and Promotion of Female Researchers:

Implementing Gender Equality Plans in Research Performing Organisations (RPOs):

Integrating the Gender Dimension into Research Content for Research Performing Organisations (RPOs):

Integrating the Gender Dimension into Research Content for Research Funding Organisations (RFOs):

Gender Balance in  Decision-Making:

Thematic Briefs:

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