• LERU universities aim to significantly contribute to creating new knowledge and to finding solutions to global challenges, such as climate change, security and public health. LERU universities realise that in order to do so effectively, they need to take into account potential sex and gender differences with respect to the way research is designed, carried out and implemented. Without considering sex and gender analysis in research and innovation (GRI), the scope, impact and utility of research results may not be equally valid for both men and women.
• For example, research shows that women tend to present different heart attack symptoms than men. This knowledge was absent until recently, simply because most research had been carried out on men only and the assumption was made that there were no significant differences between the sexes. Producing research results that apply equally to men and women has the potential to improve lives and to save money.
• It is widely acknowledged that not all research questions and projects, such as certain fields of theoretical mathematics, have a gender dimension. Yet, recognising the wide-ranging importance of gender analysis, the European Commission designated over 130 subfields where data show that gender analysis can benefit research—these range from computer hardware and architecture to nanotechnology, oceanography, geosciences, organic chemistry, aeronautics, space medicine, biodiversity, ecology, biophysics, among others. It is, thus, crucially important to consider GRI factors systematically throughout the research process before they are ruled out as non-significant. Considering GRI encompasses the entire research cycle: from making decisions about priorities for research spending, through deciding on the research focus, methodology and data collection, to analysing and reporting data, and even to disseminating and applying the results. Asking GRI questions, and integrating them in research where appropriate, will contribute not only to individual researchers’ and to LERU universities’ commitment to excellent research, but also to responsible research and innovation to the benefit of society at large.
• This paper outlines research areas with a clear need for GRI and explains the role of Social Sciences and Humanities research in GRI. It gives concrete examples of research projects that include a GRI dimension (found in boxes in the text with further examples in the appendix) and looks at established or emerging practice at LERU universities and in other organisations.
• LERU universities aspire to lead by example. Besides providing examples of practice at LERU universities, we formulate recommendations for an action-oriented GRI approach, which LERU and other universities can take. For example, the university leadership should raise awareness of the importance of GRI within the institution; provide tools for researchers to understand and apply GRI methods in their research fields; and bring this important topic to the attention of policy makers.
• Next to our recommendations for universities, we suggest that governments should include a GRI dimension in research policies and programmes, help raise awareness and provide information and training on this topic. They should include a GRI dimension in funding calls, where data show sex or gender to be a significant factor. Research funders should also adopt policies to promote GRI.
• The European Commission, in its ERA policy framework and in its Horizon 2020 funding programme, emphasises the importance of integrating gender/sex analysis in research and innovation (R&I) content. The approach taken at the EU level is a model that can serve to inspire national and local approaches; it should be continued and strengthened.
• Journals should set standards for the inclusion of information on GRI, developing clear guidelines for authors on how to include sex and gender analysis in research and research reporting.
• LERU universities should take a lead in national and international discussions with governments, funding agencies, journals and other actors to emphasise the importance of support for GRI and to ensure that sufficient funds are allocated. A comprehensive, strategic and partnership approach is vital to ensure that the momentum is not lost and that awareness of the importance of GRI as a contributor to responsible research and innovation keeps growing.
List of recommendations
Gendered research and innovation (GRI) in specific research areas
The role of social sciences and humanities in GRI
Integrating a gender perspective in different phases of the research process
Related issues: gender balance of teams and non-evidence-based assumptions
GRI in EU policies and programmes
The role of research universities – innovative practice and recommendations
The role of other actors – recommendations for governments, funding agencies and journals
Appendix: Examples of gendered research and innovation at LERU universities
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