Clear strategy – varying practice:
Placing gender perspectives higher on the research agenda
The Research Council still has a way to go before the gender dimension is fully integrated into research activity and content. Director General Arvid Hallén is concerned with putting the principles laid down in the Council's overall strategy into practice.
The Research Council’s strategy In the Vanguard of Research (2009-2012) states that gender perspectives must be well integrated into all areas of research. The Research Council Annual Report for 2009 dedicates an entire section to gender equality and gender perspectives in research, and the research programmes’ activities in this area are followed up closely.
Room for improvement
“We find that the inclusion of gender perspectives varies from programme to programme,” says Mr Hallén, and points to the Programme on Welfare, Working Life and Migration (VAM) as one example of suitable, effective practice. In some other programmes, the gender dimension is more or less invisible. “Here there is clearly room for improvement,” states Mr Hallén.
Good gender balance in all advisory bodies
The Research Council has satisfied the “40 per cent rule”, the principle that boards, committees and commissions at the Research Council will have a 40/60 gender distribution.
“It is more difficult to effectively include gender perspectives in the actual research content,” explains Mr Hallén. “We need to carefully consider what expectations we incorporate into our work programmes, and keep these clearly in mind when we assess grant applications from the research groups.”
Inspiration from abroad
The inclusion of gender perspectives in research is a challenge that Norway shares with other countries. Under the EU Seventh Framework Programme, the unit responsible for gender equality efforts at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research has funded the project entitled “Gender in EU-funded Research: Toolkit and Training”, which provides training sessions and tools for integrating gender aspects into research projects.
The Research Council is looking with great interest at this programme, which targets researchers, National Contact Points and participants in international research projects. With some adaptation, the toolkit could be an important instrument for use at the national level, also in Norway.
Greater focus at the highest level
Mr Hallén has recently added gender equality and gender perspectives in research as an agenda item for the Research Council’s meetings of top-level administration at least twice a year. In these meetings the administrators will concentrate on issues related to women’s and men’s participation in research as well as on measures to ensure that gender perspectives are adequately incorporated into research content.
“I feel certain that through these efforts we can make better use of our researcher talent and ensure high quality in research,” concludes Mr Hallén.
Based on an interview in Norwegian witten by Anita Haslie og Marte Ericsson Ryste and published on the Gender Balance in Research - Norway website (Norwegian version).
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