Gender Strategy

Introduction

Environmental research provides essential scientific support for environmental policy development, implementation and broader decision making. Since 1994, the EPA has funded research that has increased national understanding of our environment, the challenges it faces and responses to these. It has also developed high quality research capacity and supported innovation that is internationally respected.

The EPA’s current Research Programme 2014-2020 is designed to identify pressures, inform policy and develop solutions to environmental challenges through the provision of strong evidence-based scientific knowledge.

Following the recommendations outlined in the 2016 Higher Education Authority National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions, the EPA’s strategy to promote gender equity in the Irish environmental research arena is outlined below.

Gender Balance in Research Teams

  • The EPA will contribute to minimising the gender-funding gap, as well as increasing the proportion of women in its funded portfolio, by ensuring there is appropriate gender balance at all levels of personnel engaged in the research it funds. The EPA aims to ensure that funded research teams are comprised of at least 40% women and 40% men.  
  • Applicants to the EPA Research Call will be required to describe how gender balance will be fostered within their proposed research teams. The described Gender Balance will be used to inform the deliberative process of the National Overview Committee (i.e. second stage evaluation process).
  • The EPA will implement provisions for maternity and paternity pay for funded researchers in accordance with the EPA Policy on the Support of Maternity, Paternity and Adoptive Leave.
  • The EPA require that Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have attained:

I. Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award by end of 2019 to be eligible for funding.
II. Athena SWAN Silver Institutional Award by end of 2023 to be eligible for funding.

  • In the case of Technological Universities (TUs), to be eligible for funding, TUs must attain:

I. Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award within three years of being formally established.
II. Athena SWAN Silver Institutional Award within seven years of being formally established.

  • Other types of organisations (non-HEIs) also funded by the EPA, will be asked to demonstrate that they are adhering to the same principles

Gender Dimension in Research Content

To ensure that applicants have given full consideration to any potential sex and/or gender dimension which may be present in their proposed research, applicants are required to describe how the gender dimension is taken into account in the scope of their proposed research as part of the application process. Where these have been identified as relevant variables, the described Gender Dimension will be used to inform the deliberative process of the National Overview Committee (i.e. second stage evaluation process).

Gender Balance in Decision-Making

The EPA will:

  • Ensure that there is appropriate gender balance within its peer review process – both in the scientific evaluation panels (first stage of the evaluation process) and the National Overview Committees (second stage of evaluation process) – and will aim at reaching at least 40% representation of each gender.
  • Request that the members of the EPA Research Team and its higher management watch a short video (used with permission and thanks to The Royal Society, UK), explaining unconscious bias.
  • Request that all evaluation panels and National Overview Committees watch a short video (used with permission and thanks to The Royal Society, UK), explaining unconscious bias, prior to commencing their evaluation.
  • Assess requirements for further unconscious-bias training on an on-going basis.
  • Assess and determine means to overcome potential sources of gender bias within its peer review process, as required and on an ongoing basis.

Reporting and National Cooperation 

The EPA will:

  • Monitor and analyse relevant data on each funding call, disaggregated by gender. 
  • Consult and collaborate with other national funding agencies to discuss monitoring and analysis of gender disaggregated statistics and potential targeted initiatives to further promote gender balance in the Irish research arena.