SLU's work on equal rights (in Swedish)
There are increasing demands from funders that you indicate whether there is a gender/sex dimension in your proposed research and how you plan to address this through your research design, implementation, evaluation, interpretation and dissemination. If you express that there is no gender/sex dimension in your research, you may have to explain why not and how you have come to that conclusion.
Some funders will only refer to gender dimensions or gender perspectives, in which case, gender should be the focus, but you may need or want to address both gender and sex in your proposal and subsequent project. (See below for an explanation of the difference between these two terms.)
It is important not to confuse a gender balance/distribution within your research team with gender dimensions in your research content. A gender balance is essential, sometimes mandatory, but that is usually not what funders are asking you to describe in a gender dimensions section.
There are several reasons why it is essential to consider whether there is a gender/sex dimension in your research that you should take into account and control for by integrating some level of gender/sex analysis.
A simple way to answer this question is to say that if your research will have an impact on humans, it has gender perspectives!
You can also ask yourself whether your research will involve people as subjects - this may be less evident at first, for example gathering information at farm level, where this also could include data on individual farm owners/operators. You should then consider whether your research outcomes might differ if you were to distinguish between their gender/sex, at any phase of the research or dissemination.
It is important to remember that in animal studies, the sex of the animals being studied is also an important dimension on which you could consider collecting disaggregated data.
Reports published by the European Commission (2020) and Kilden Gender Research (2018) present case studies highlighting how gender/sex is relevant to several research fields. The European Commission report also suggests various methods for integrating a gender/sex dimension into your research. Reading case studies from reports such as these may inspire you to think about how gender/sex could be significant in your own project.
You can integrate gender/sex dimensions at various stages of your research process:
The level of integration of a gender/sex dimension and analysis in your project will, of course, depend on the size of the project (budget, resources, duration, etc.).
For smaller projects, where only a few individuals will participate, you can most likely not include someone in the research team with gender expertise. In this case, you might not conduct any gender analysis within the project, but that does not mean you cannot carry out your research in a gender-sensitive way. For example, you could:
In larger projects, with multiple partner organisations and many individual participants, it is much more likely that you can include someone in the team who has gender expertise. It is particularly important to consider doing this when the funder has specified that gender is a core element or cross-cutting issue of the call you are applying to. This person can identify and integrate gender/sex perspectives across the project and help to write the proposal.
SLU employs several researchers with gender expertise, who also conduct research in our core focus areas of sciences and sustainable life. Consider contacting one of them if you are looking for someone with their skills and knowledge to join your project team. If you are unsure how to find the right person or people, please feel free to reach out to the Grants Office (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will help you.
Please see below for links to many tools and learning resources you can use to educate yourself on integrating a gender/sex dimension and conducting gender-sensitive research.
As indicated above, although the gender/sex dimension section of your proposal is not about showing you have a gender balance within your research team - that does not mean it isn’t important to have. Some funders demand a gender balance, while others recommend it and may use it during the evaluation stage as a deciding factor when several proposals have equally high scores (e.g. Horizon Europe).
You should not only aim for a gender balance because the funders tell you to - it will improve your research and its impact. Diversity in your research team will direct you to more socially relevant research questions and dissemination strategies; ultimately leading to research that is more applicable and beneficial to a broader population.
Aim for a team with at least 40% women or 40% men, and ideally replicate this balance in any leadership roles and advisory boards.
SLU's work on equal rights (in Swedish)