Why do we need to focus on gender in research and innovation?
Gender equality is a central theme underlying European and National Research and Innovation policy. Three objectives which underpin gender equality as it influences research and innovation policy include:
- Fostering equality in scientific careers;
- Ensuring gender balance in decision-making processes and bodies;
- Integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation content, i.e. taking into account the biological characteristics and the social features of women and men.
While there are research projects in which biological sex and/or gender may not be relevant in terms of the research content, it is well established that integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation helps improve the scientific quality. Not integrating sex and gender analysis into all phases of your project (design, implementation, evaluation and dissemination) and clearly defining this in your funding applications, can lead to not being selected at review and evaluation stage. In fact, considering this element in your research may even highlight some interesting avenues for your research and make your research more applicable to a wider portion of the population and society at large, thus far more impactful.
As a result, policymakers, research organisations, and funders of science have made efforts to increase the participation of women in science teams, leadership roles, and evaluation panels through various policy and application guidelines.
In addition, journals and funders have introduced sex-and-gender aspects of the content of research publications. Researchers should acknowledge that there is much to be gained from viewing your project under a gendered lens, including an increased chance of being published and an edge when applying for research funds. According to Londa Schiebinger (The John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science), "Beyond boosting your chances of getting a publication, or grant, including sex-and-gender concerns may provide a decisive advantage for early-career scientists by prompting more in-depth, interesting, and socially relevant research questions". (source: sciencemag.org ).