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This is in complete contrast to all the other

advice offered by the Commission in relation

to the framework programme: “So we have

this discrepancy between the aims of Horizon

2020 and what Parliament has approved and

included in the programme’s budget, and

what is actually being done with regards the

day-to-day planning and implementation. The

evaluators don’t know what is expected of

them and neither do the applicants. Whilst the

Commission has advised that gender should

be assessed carefully once the proposals

have arrived, I am not convinced that is

actually happening.

“This is worrying, and so we must now focus

on those two aspects of the science process –

what the policy makers actually want to

achieve, and the mechanisms that are actually

available and whether they are sufficient to

actually implement the policy objectives.”

Finding a solution

Gender Summit 7 (GS7), which will take place

in November in Berlin, Germany, intends to

address this problem. “We have dovetailed GS7

to the Falling Walls celebration,” said Pollitzer,

“because it is the invisible walls between

intention and implementation that are standing

in the way of policies that will successfully

improve the gender dimension in science. We

are trying to use that metaphor to help people

visualise the remaining obstacles at the

mechanism level, as well as the practical steps

that must now be put in place.”

Change has to be enforced by embedding

better gender analysis mechanisms

throughout Horizon 2020, “from writing the


ender equality in science participation and gender-

sensitive research, i.e. consideration of the factors that

determine differences between females and males as

well as differentially influencing the efficacy of research outcomes

for women and men, are a significant feature of Horizon 2020. The

European Commission has invested substantially in ensuring that

Europe remains a world leader in harnessing the power of gender

inclusion for better science, innovation and growth.

However, this has not always been the case. “When the Gender Summits

began in 2011,” Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer told Portal, “they focused mainly

on Europe, in part because preparations were then taking place for what

would happen upon the conclusion of the Seventh Framework

Programme (FP7). In a public consultation on the requirements of Horizon

2020, held by the Commission, just one question out of about 40

concerned women.”

Pollitzer is the director of Portia Ltd, which established the Gender

Summits as a platform upon which the science community, including

scientists, gender scholars and policy makers, could together examine

the evidence illustrating how including gender aspects in the research

and innovation process could enhance scientific quality and impact. As

a leading expert on gender inclusion in science and technology, she

contributed to the evaluation of the ‘Science in Society’ programme and

acts as a consultant on the integration of gender in research proposals

and other programmes.

Pollitzer spoke to Portal about what’s missing from the EU R&I framework

programme, how this can be solved, and why gender inclusion is

important to the future of European science.

Implementing Horizon 2020

Since the creation of the Gender Summits, in response to evidence

suggesting the quality of European science is lacking and the fact that

gender equality is a core value of the EU, important developments have

been taking place at the policy level, including through Horizon 2020

and the European Research Area.

“However, at the level of implementation, at the level of operational

application, there are still difficulties, as the way that the next phase of

the programme for Horizon 2020 has been planned demonstrates,”

Pollitzer said.

She noted the disappointing omission of the word ‘gender’ in the

recommendations from Commission advisory groups on topics to be

included in Work Programme 2016-2017: “In nearly all of the documents

presented in January by the Commission, gender was missing; in the

nine-page text on ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’, it was

mentioned only once.”


H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L



Gender and Horizon 2020

Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer,

Portia Ltd director and co-convenor of the Gender

Summits, outlines the discrepancies between the gender objectives of Horizon

2020 and their implementation in practice

Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer

Pollitzer said she

was disappointed over

the omission of the

word ‘gender’ in

Horizon 2020


from Commission

advisory groups