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Infosheet


Gender equality in Horizon Europe

This hands-on info sheet on gender equality in Horizon Europe summarises the key points you need to know when applying for Horizon Europe calls for proposals.

Programmes EIC   Enhancing EU R&I   Horizon Europe   SwafS   Horizon 2020  

Published on | 1 year ago

Last updated on | 6 months ago

Author Do you have an additional question? Or spotted a mistake? Don't hesitate to contact me!
Image of Margot Beereboom
Margot Beereboom

margot.beereboom@fwo.be

The Horizon Europe gender equality policy builds strongly upon the strategy set out under Horizon 2020.

Under Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) promoting gender equality in research and innovation was done through three objectives, in short:

  • Fostering gender balance in research teams
  • Ensuring gender balance in decision-making
  • Integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation (R&I) content

The objectives and expected impact regarding gender equality throughout Horizon 2020 work programmes are described in the section gender equality in research and innovation of the Horizon 2020 funding portal. On what this concretely entailed at proposal submission and evaluation stage, this is described in the gender part in the Horizon 2020 Online Manual.

Under Horizon Europe (2021-2027) this threefold objective is continued. There is a 50% target for gender balance in Horizon Europe boards, expert groups and evaluation committees. Gender balance among research teams is set as a 3rd ranking criterion for proposals with the same score (Horizon Europe work programme 2021-2022 general annexes p. 24). The gender dimension in research and innovation content is an award criterion under the evaluation criterion Excellence, unless specified otherwise in the call topic. Furthermore additional measures apply under the European Innovation Council (EIC) which are summarised at the bottom. (NCP Flanders slides "Gender dimension in Horizon Europe proposals", May 2022). 

Added under Horizon Europe is the obligation to have a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in all public bodies, higher education institutions and research organisations in Horizon Europe Associated Countries and EU member states applying to calls with deadline in 2022 and onwards. An explanation of the defined legal entities under Horizon Europe is given in the Rules for Legal Entity Validation, LEAR Appointment and Financial Capacity Assessment (p. 4-9). The GEP must be in place at grant agreement signature stage.

The mandatory requirements of a GEP are described in the Horizon Europe work programme 2021-2022 general annexes (p. 12-13). Four mandatory building blocks are described, in short: 1) The GEP must be a public document, 2) there needs to be dedicated resources, 3) data collection and monitoring and 4) training and capacity building. This is supplemented by five recommended thematic areas:

  • work-life balance and organisational culture
  • gender balance in leadership and decision-making
  • gender equality in recruitment and career progression
  • integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching content
  • measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment

More hands on information can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions on GEP (May 2021) and the presentation of the GEP info session (May 2021) organised by the Belgian Horizon Europe National Contact Points following up this topic. This Horizon Europe guidance on Gender Equality Plans (September 2021) provides information on the four mandatory and five recommended building blocks with examples for each.

In addition to gender equality in research and innovation and the GEP, the European Commission DG Research and Innovation strategic plan for 2020-2024, furthermore explains the “intersectional approach” (p.32) which aims to counteract inequalities in research and innovation also in terms of ethnicity and race, social class, gender identity and sexual orientation and disability, which is in line with the Gender equality strategy 2020-2025 of the European Commission.

This factsheet on “gender equality – a strengthened commitment in Horizon Europe” is a handy summary on the gender equality objectives under Horizon Europe, what needs to be included in a GEP and where to find more useful resources for establishing a GEP. Lastly, an example worth mentioning is the European Research Council Gender Equality Plan for the period 2021-2027. 

Furthermore, there are public gender equality plans of Flemish entities available (Dutch/English, non-exhaustive):

  • an overview of gender equality plans of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), five Flemish universities and several research institutions can be found here
  • gender equality plan Vlaamse overheid Departement EWI
  • gender equality plan Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)
  • gender equality plan Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO)

Gender in European Innovation Council (EIC)

The summary below is based on available information in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Work Programme 2022, EIC Pathfinder Open, Pathfinder Challenges and Transition proposal templates and Accelerator AI platform, May 2022)

The 2022 EIC WP has several overarching gender related aims. One of the medium term Key Performance Indicators is  "Achieving a balanced portfolio … with at least 35% of EIC portfolio companies led by women.” Therefore specific actions throughout the work programme are aimed to increase support to women innovators:

  • “At least 40% of the EIC juries and EIC expert evaluators will be women, with the objective to reach 50%;
  • The companies and projects invited to the face-to-face interviews with the EIC Accelerator and Transition juries will be selected on the basis of excellence, while aiming at having a strong representation of women-led SMEs and, where relevant, work package leaders;
  • The Business Accelerator Services include specific services for female founders;
  • Encouragement of gender balance among Work Package leaders in EIC Pathfinder and EIC Transition by using women representation as a criterion in case of equal score;
  • Increased budget for the WomenTech.EU scheme from €2 million to €10 million;
  • A pilot innovation gender and diversity index to collect data, provide benchmarking/ KPIs, and track progress across the European ecosystem…”

Three main EIC funding instruments with gender related elements

Besides the requirement of a gender equality plan (GEP), for each main EIC funding instrument there are gender related requirements which are summarised here. The specificities are included in the call documents.

Pathfinder Open

-> What is requested of applicants: “are particularly encouraged to empower female researchers in your project and to achieve gender balance among your work package leaders.” (EIC WP 2022, p. 22)

Which information has to be provided: In the proposal template the gender of WP leaders has to be indicated by the applicant (proposal template, p. 39). In case two or more proposals end with the same score, gender balance of WP leaders is considered as a 3rd evaluation criterion. (EIC WP 2022, p.25)

-> What is requested of applicants: appropriate consideration of the gender dimension in research content

In award criteria: under the excellence criterion, objectives (EIC WP 2022, p.24)

Pathfinder Challenges

-> What is requested of applicants: “are particularly encouraged to empower female researchers in your project and to achieve gender balance among your work package leaders.” (EIC WP 2022, p. 26)

Which information has to be provided: In the proposal template the gender of the researchers (leading or team members) has to be indicated by the applicant (proposal template, p.12)

-> What is requested of applicants: appropriate consideration of the gender dimension in research content

In award criteria: under the excellence criterion, plausibility of the methodology (EIC WP 2022, p.29) and under the quality and efficiency of the implementation criterion, consortium (proposal template, p. 36)

Transition

-> Threshold in proposal evaluation process: a pool of at least 30% of applications submitted by women-led SMEs or consortia will be created. This pool will be invited to the face-to-face interviews. (EIC WP 2022, p. 49) A consortium where at least 50% of Work Package leaders including the consortium coordinator are women, it is considered a women-led consortium. Women-led SMEs are companies where the position of either the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technology Officer or Chief Scientific Officer is held by a woman at the time of application, interview and award of the EU financial support.

Which information has to be provided: In the proposal template the gender of the researchers (leading or team members) has to be indicated by the applicant (proposal template, p. 13) and the gender of WP leaders has to be indicated by the applicant (proposal template, p. 42). Furthermore applicants have to confirm if it is a women-led consortium or not.

-> What is requested of applicants: consideration of gender dimension in envisaged application

In award criteria: under the excellence criterion, methodology (EIC WP 2022, p.51)

Accelerator

-> Threshold in proposal evaluation process: as 2nd criterion up to 40% of the invited companies for the face-to-face interview needs to be companies with female CEOs. (EIC WP 2022, p.69)

Which information has to be provided: In the AI platform information on the gender of the team members and executive positions has to be indicated by the applicant

In award criteria: under level of risk, implementation, and need for union support, team (EIC WP 2022, p.72)

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