The French National Research Agency rolls out an Action Plan for Gender Equality and Gender Mainstreaming
The action plan was developed against the backdrop of the Civil Service Transformation Act of 6 August 2019 and builds on the gender equality commitments ANR has made since 2017. The Agency is working on various fronts to strengthen parity in scientific evaluation panels, avoid gender bias in project evaluation and selection (including through a training and awareness process for panel chairs), contribute to a culture shift in research whereby gender-related aspects are systematically incorporated into research projects and evaluation, and promoting the place and role of women in science.
ANR is aiming to stay in line with European research and funding bodies and to equip itself with educational and awareness-raising tools for institutional research players. To this end, the Agency has joined the Gender-SMART project (2019-2022), a group of nine partner organisations committed to implementing gender action plans. After completing an inventory in 2019, ANR developed its gender equality action plan within a dedicated collaboration framework and with enlightened support. The plan’s three focus areas are detailed below.
Culture and organisation
Buy-in and support at all levels – among ANR’s governing bodies, employee representatives and all staff – is vital to making gender equality a lasting part of the Agency’s culture. The Agency will run information and communication activities, with a strong focus on its values, to ensure that this fundamental principle is shared far and wide.
Although the inventory revealed no major inequalities of treatment between women and men in the workplace or in the evaluation of projects, it did highlight a need for further work in identifying potential inequalities. The Agency plans to gather and analyse data, and to run training and awareness activities for personnel and evaluators, focusing on gender concepts, stereotypes and unconscious biases, for instance through first-hand accounts.
The action plan should also enable ANR to place workplace equality front and centre in its human resources policy. In terms of recruitment, for instance, the Agency will diversify distribution networks for vacancies and promote the career paths of women occupying positions of senior responsibility. On pay, meanwhile, ANR will continue its work on analysing potential gaps between women and men, even though the inventory did not flag any major discrepancies.
The Agency has also set up part-time work and teleworking arrangements to help employees balance their work and private lives. It will review the impact of these two schemes on the career paths of its personnel and draw up a charter of good conduct to encourage a healthy work-life balance.
Turning to career management, ANR signed jobs and skills planning agreements in 2016, including three components dedicated to supporting women’s access to positions of responsibility. The aim is to improve representation of female employees at all levels of responsibility in the Agency and to assist women in their career progression. ANR will build on these efforts in various ways, such as by supporting employees returning from parental leave, and by setting up an internal tutoring system and bringing in mentors from outside the organisation. Lastly, the Agency will carry out surveys and review the results closely as part of its drive to prevent and address sexism and sexual harassment at work.
ANR is also determined to help reduce gender bias in the research project evaluation process and in the production of knowledge. The Agency will ensure that its calls for proposals target both women and men and that the sex and/or gender dimension is incorporated into the description of the scientific areas covered by the calls. It will raise awareness, among scientific communities, of the importance of gender mainstreaming in research projects. And lastly, ANR will ensure parity in scientific evaluation panels, continue and refine its analysis of project selection data, and seek to develop indicators to measure the impact of its funding on scientific output.
The action plan formalises existing ANR efforts and sets out new ways in which the Agency will identify, measure and reduce inequalities and potential gender biases. Half-yearly evaluations will take place over the 2020-2023 period to track progress and ensure proper deployment of the gender equality action plan.