The Global Research Council launches a first of its kind Report on Gender-Disaggregated Data

The survey report underscores the importance of collecting, analysing and reporting gender-disaggregated data by GRC participating organizations.

Published from the NRF website. The GRC is having its global meeting from 24-28 May. Follow proceedings via Twitter.

The Global Research Council (GRC) has launched a seminal report titled Gender-Disaggregated Data at the Participating Organisations of the Global Research Council: Results of a global survey.

This report marks the first such collection of trends, practices and experiences of Global Research Council (GRC) participating organizations regarding gender-disaggregated data, and presents findings regarding applications, review and funding; the gender dimension in research; and data at the intersection of equality, diversity and inclusion. The survey was administered between September and December 2019.

The launch forms part of the 9th Annual Meeting of the GRC, which takes place virtually from 24-28 May, co-hosted by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The GRC is constituted by heads of science and engineering funding agencies from around the world, dedicated to promoting the sharing of data and best practices for high-quality collaboration among agencies globally. It is committed to promoting the equality and status of women in research, and especially catalysing conversations and actions amongst its participating organizations, and endorsed the GRC Statement of Principles and Actions on promoting the equality and status of women in 2016.

A significant action to advocate for the implementation of this action plan was the creation of the Gender Working Group (GWG) in 2017. Since its inception, the GWG’s initiatives have included strategic discussions and advancement of actions on gender-disaggregated data; collating case studies of practices of funding agencies across actions of the Statement of Principles; advocacy and championing the implementation of the statement of principles across GRC participating organizations; focusing on sexual harassment and bullying; integrating gender and diversity dimensions in research design and content; and diversity.

It is under the auspices of the GRC GWG that this report has been launched, co-led by NRF South Africa and São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

The survey report underscores the importance of collecting, analysing and reporting gender-disaggregated data by GRC participating organizations. It provides the opportunity for benchmarking and a better understanding of the needs of different research systems.

The following are key findings from the survey:

  1. GRC-participating organizations broadly recognize the importance of appropriate actions regarding gender in research, and that they have a catalytic role to play.
  • 88% of GRC-participating organisations collect some data on the number of men and women, including outside of the grant-making function.
  • The majority of GRC-participating organisations started collecting gender-disaggregated data from 2004 onwards.
  1. There are no specified standards adopted across the organizations regarding the collection and reporting of gender-disaggregated data, in the context of the grant-making function of GRC-participating organizations.
  • Practices of GRC-participating organizations seem to be largely influenced by national contexts.
  • 82% collect gender-disaggregated data for funding applications and 77% collect data about the gender of the Principal Investigator of a funded project. However, there are regional differences with GRC-participating organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Asia Pacific more likely to only collect data on funding applications.
  • The data collection practices are more nuanced with regard to other aspects linked to the research and grants management process, for example the reviews process, with fewer GRC-participating organizations collecting this type of data.
  • Respectively, only 15% and 9% of the 65 organizations that responded to the survey collect data on the integration of sex and gender considerations in the process of research production (research design and methods) and the process of research uptake (dissemination and use of research), with Europe as a leading region in this regard.

2. The scope of data collected by GRC-participating organizations varies by region and by type of data collected.

  • The majority of organisations collect gender-disaggregated data with a focus on performance indicators, with two specific indicators more likely to be a focus: funding applications and PI of a funded project.
  • It is a positive trend that a number of GRC-participating organizations, although smaller in percentage, collect data beyond gender, with ethnicity and disability as key aspects related to diversity and equity seeking groups.
  • Additionally, a positive trend can be seen with regard to policies and guidelines on sexual harassment and bullying where 54% of the organizations have an internal policy on this and 22% of organizations have taken a stance on harassment or bullying in settings outside the organization.

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In light of the above findings, the GWG recommends that:

  1. GRC-participating organizations should continue to collect gender-disaggregated data on applications, reviews and funding, and mainstream this across the research and grants management pipeline;
  2. GRC-participating organizations should develop and continually expand consistent indicators to support efforts to collect and report gender-disaggregated data for comparative analysis;
  3. GRC-participating organizations should pay attention to, collect data and report on diversity and other equity seeking groups informed by national context, and in addition to gender-disaggregated data;
  4. GRC-participating organizations should pay attention to emerging scholarly contributions regarding the gender (and other aspects of diversity and inclusion) dimension in research, and engage in peer learning initiatives on how to contextualize this to the funding agency environment, including the development of a set of guidelines for integrating gender and diversity analysis in research tailored to address the needs of research funders, grant applicants, and peer-reviewers or evaluators in an inclusive way;
  5. GRC-participating organizations, especially at the regional level, should continue to share good practices on collecting and reporting gender-disaggregated data. This type of data contributes positively to shaping the notions of impact and research excellence.

The GWG will continue to champion and facilitate the sharing of good practices amongst the GRC participants, with the aim that all GRC-participating organizations and regions will undertake to use this report, its findings and recommendations to further catalyse change and catapult progress across the various intersections of gender.

Gender-Disaggregated Data at the Participating Organisations of the Global Research Council: Results of a global survey, can be accessed here.

In 2019, the GWG also produced a booklet entitled “Supporting Women in Research: Policies, programs and initiatives undertaken by public research funding agencies”, which can be accessed here.


Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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