At a glance

Title:                                     EQUAL4EUROPE

Project type:                      Horizon 2020 Coordination and support action

Project coordinator:       ESADE

Partners involved:

  • Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
  • Univerzita Komenskeho v Bratislave
  • IEDC Poslovna Sola Bled
  • ESMT European School of Management and Technology
  • INSEAD Institut Europeen d’Administration des Affaires
  • Nehem, part of PNO Consultants

Funding:                              H2020-EU.5.f.

Duration:                            01 Jan 2020-31 Dec 2023

EQUAL4EUROPE in short 

Gender equality is one of the EU’s founding values. Gender equality goals include the promotion of equal economic independence for women and men, closing the gender pay gap, advancing gender balance in decision-making, ending gender-based violence and promoting gender equality beyond the EU. The EU-funded EQUAL4EUROPE project focuses on the fields of art, humanities, medicine, social science, business and law (moving away from the fields of science, technology, engineering and math). More specific, six research-performing institutions will in this project develop and implement tailored gender equality plans in order to realise sustainable cultural and institutional change. The project will assess the gender situation and moreover create a network of gender equality officers from the social science fields. The project will also develop free knowledge, tools and best practices. 


Gender equality (GE) in science is a key priority of the European Commission. As it is well formulated in the Council conclusions of 1/12/2015, gender equality in science is important since it will “contribute to diversity, excellence and quality in outcomes and make research more responsive to social and societal challenges that are a shared responsibility between women and men. Making use of all talents and creating equal opportunities for men and women is not only a matter of fairness, but it is also an issue of economic efficiency. Embracing gender equality will contribute to EU competitiveness and to growth and job creation. 


Even though increasing attention has been given to improving gender equality, European research still shows a pronounced under-representation of women. Despite national and EU-level strategies on Gender equality, women tend to disappear as we progress from lower to higher levels in scientific careers. This reality reflects an inefficient use of highly skilled women in the EU. The ‘leaky pipeline’ is evident from secondary school, through terminal degrees, and throughout the employment trajectory at universities and research-based organizations. Although the pipeline ‘leaks’ at multiple points, the extent to which women exit is exacerbated at higher (leadership) levels where women exit or withdraw in bigger numbers than men.  


The EU challenge is to increase the quality and relevance of research and to contribute to the European Research Area (ERA) by means of sustainable cultural and institutional change along the following three lines:  

  1. Removing barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers; 
  2. Addressing gender imbalances in decision making processes; and, 
  3. Integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation content. 


Research performing institutions are for this reason invited to prepare and implement Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) to contribute to the above described challenge. The institutions that are part of the EQUAL4EUROPE consortium are willing and ready to take up this challenge and to effectuate sustainable cultural and institutional change. The EQUAL4EUROPE consortium consists of 6 Research Performing Institutions (RPI), one international association of universities and one consultancy bureau who all have a clear focus on arts, humanities, medicine, social sciences, business and law (AHMSSBL). For whereas in the past gender equality was especially recognized as an issue by science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) RPIs, as is evident in the large number of research projects dedicated to this subject, it is now also more and more being recognized by AHMSSBL institutions.  


Somewhat at odds with STEM oriented fields of study, student levels for AHMSSBL institutions, tend to reflect a more equitable division between men and women. However, this student-level balance is not reflected at higher post-study career levels where ever-increasing proportion of men are present. The participating institutions of EQUAL4EUROPE have all started to pay (more) attention to GE. They collect gender as well as broader diversity related data and are all engaged in a range of activities to achieve better GE in their organizations. Yet these activities remain fragmented and the partners believe that this EQUAL4EUROPE project will enable them to develop and implement an integral GEP that will both accelerate their existing efforts and realize a far greater systemic change across each institution as a key driver to achieving sustainable equality.  

Project details 

The EQUAL4EUROPE project addresses the Horizon 2020 “Science with and for Society” work program and more specifically the topic SwafS-09-2018-2019 “Supporting research organisations to implement gender equality plans”. The focus of this topic is on implementing Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in research organisations and universities, as “drivers” for systemic institutional changes.  


The EQUAL4EUROPE consortium consists of six Research Performing Institutions (RPI) with a clear focus on arts, humanities, medicine, social sciences, business and law (AHMSSBL), and two international accreditation organisations (one as full partner, one as associate partner). Whereas in the past, gender equality was especially recognized as an issue by science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) RPIs, it is now also recognized by AHMSSBL institutions. However, information for this type of institutions is not yet widely available. Within this project, we will develop free knowledge, tools and best practices for AHMSSBL institutions related to: 


  1. Removing barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers; 
  2. Addressing gender imbalances in decision making processes; and, 
  3. Integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation content. 


More specifically, the six RPIs will develop and implement tailored Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in order to realize sustainable cultural and institutional changeThese GEPs will be informed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) GEAR tool that will be tailored appropriately to fit the individual work plans. The EQUAL4EUROPE participants will start by assessing their current situations in depth, identifying the main areas of intervention, developing and implementing GEPs and, finally, monitor their results using specific targets and indicators. Part of this project is moreover to establish a network for GE officers from AHMSSBL institutions across Europe 


Since the consortium aims to maximize the impact, the two accreditation organisations in our project will investigate the possibilities to include the project results into their existing international accreditation frameworks for business schools (with European and global reach). Through their networks, the consortium will furthermore be able to reach out to a very large audience. 



The main aim of the EQUAL4EUROPE project is to contribute to increased gender equality in the European Research Area (ERA). In order to achieve this main aim, we have set the following specific objectives:  


  • O.1 Increase gender-awareness at the organizational level

Several activities will be performed to increase gender awareness, such as workshops, trainingand continuous communication. All levels will be addressed, including students, administrative staff, research and teaching staff, middle management and highest management.  


  • O.2 Engage relevant actors and stakeholders from across the spectrum of gender equality seeking organisations in Europe

There are several organisations, associations, boards, and even individuals that are experts in the field of gender and can help with generating best practices and insights to implement gender equality in academic or research organisations. Existing projects will also be contacted to engage in knowledge exchange and to learn from best practices. 


  • O.3 Develop 6 tailored GEPs 

Each participating research performing institute will develop a tailored GEP based on an in-depth assessment of the current situation, entailing a variety of measures that fit the specific context and respond to well identified areas in need of action. A participatory approach will be used for this 


  • O.4 Successfully implement the developed GEPs

Each participating research performing institute will implement the developed GEP, involving all relevant stakeholders to increase gender equality within their institute and to make a sustainable cultural and institutional change.  


  • O.5 Monitor and evaluate the impact and results of the implemented GEPs

A methodology will be devised to impartially evaluate the progress made on gender equality plans throughout the duration of this EQUAL4EUROPE project. The methodology for the evaluation should be thought of as formative, helping the consortium partners to adapt their GEP’s as necessary at the end of the EQUAL4EUROPE project.  


  • O.6 Knowledge exchange

The lessons learnt in this project will be shared both within the consortium as well as with stakeholders from outside of the consortium. This includes establishing best practices and recommendations for other AHMSSBL institutions. It also includes the efforts of our network organisations to investigate whether they can include the EQUAL4EUROPE project results in their accreditation framework and standards.  


  • O.7 Create a European network for research institutions GE officers

The development of a network specifically for GE officers from universities, where they can share best practices and tips-and-tricks. This will be a practical and easy to access network, supported by an online platform. 


Contact us

Please contact EQUAL4EUROPE project members if you would like to receive more information about the project.