In this blog by Anamari Nakić, discover how CALIPER’s collaborative approach sparks change and propels gender equality in STEM workplaces.
The AE Cardiff Hub joined the Horizon 2020-funded CALIPER project in 2021, as part of a consortium of organisations that aim to address gender equality within research and innovation in Europe. The CALIPER project’s goal is to make research organisations more gender equal by increasing the number of female researchers in STEM, improving their careers prospects and integrating a gender dimension in research.
Gender equality has become an increasingly pivotal concern in today’s organisations, with many institutions recognising the importance of implementing Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) to foster inclusivity and diversity. However, the effectiveness of such plans cannot be assumed; they must be rigorously assessed to ensure they are achieving their intended goals. In this context, the CALIPER project has provided a valuable methodology for evaluating GEPs, offering a structured approach to assess their implementation, outcomes, and impacts. This evaluation process not only aids organisations in identifying areas for improvement, but also serves as a base for outlining collaborative efforts among Gender Equality Working Groups or partnerships within institutions.
Why is it important to evaluate a Gender Equality Plan to help organisations grow inclusively and how does assessing the effectiveness of a Gender Equality Plan contribute to creating a better workplace?
Evaluating the implementation activities of a Gender Equality Plan helps management detect whether a project is on track, or if any problems need addressing. The results of the evaluation can guide the adaptation of existing actions, and the creation of new ones in future Gender Equality plans.
Additionally, the evaluation process provides an opportunity for participants to reflect, propose future activities, and take ownership of the institutional change process. Changing the way people and organisations work is challenging and time-consuming; resistance to change is inherent in any GEP process and should be expected. The implementation analysis offers a method to identify, document, and work on solutions to alleviate resistances.
What method does the CALIPER project offer for evaluating Gender Equality Plans?
The CALIPER project employed both formative and summative evaluation methods.
Formative self-evaluation occurs throughout the project’s duration and is focused on gathering feedback while an action is being implemented, to ensure its alignment with the planned progress.
Summative evaluation seeks to determine the extent to which anticipated outcomes result from a specific program or intervention. External, independent experts are assigned to conduct this evaluation near the conclusion of the project.
Formative evaluation complements the summative evaluation, as it helps clarify the reasons behind certain outcomes and impacts achieved, as related to the design and implementation of GEP activities.
What is the main purpose of the evaluation method outlined by CALIPER, and how does it guide organisations through the evaluation process?
The formative evaluation assesses and evaluates the design and implementation of the GEPs, functioning as a toolkit for crafting well-designed interventions. The summative evaluation, on the other hand, is focused on outputs, outcomes, and impact that those interventions have brought.
How does the methodology outlined by CALIPER encourage collaboration among Gender Equality Working Groups/partnerships within institutions?
The set of research methods for conducting the formative evaluation is straightforward, with most essential information obtainable through desktop research. Consequently, it can be collaboratively undertaken by a Gender Equality working group, involving members who have played a role in conceptualising the intervention.
Furthermore, the method involves collecting qualitative data by arranging interviews and focus groups, providing an avenue to explore participants’ experiences and facilitate the exchange of ideas.
How can organisations use the example set by CALIPER to review and improve their Gender Equality Plans?
Monitoring data offers valuable insights into the quality of the implementation process. Organisations can use the formative evaluation methodology employed in the CALIPER project to supervise and guide the implementation of their GEP interventions. It is essential to incorporate evaluation right from the initial steps during the GEP design to make sure that effective feedback loops are in place, which will strengthen the implementation process.
What are the challenges in identifying outcomes and impact of a Gender Equality Plan?
Measuring GEP outcomes and impacts can be a complex undertaking. Structural change is neither simple nor straightforward, often resulting in a substantial time gap between the initiation of GEP activities and the emergence of outcomes. Consequently, data must be collected over a long-term period to enable the drawing of meaningful conclusions.
In conclusion, the evaluation of Gender Equality Plans is an indispensable practice for organisations striving to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces. The CALIPER project’s approach encompasses both formative and summative evaluations and equips organisations with valuable tools for continuous improvement. By fostering collaboration among Gender Equality Working Groups and partnerships, this methodology affords for diverse perspectives and experiences to be taken into account. Even though there are challenges in measuring the outcomes and impact of GEPs, organisations can embrace the insights and methods outlined by CALIPER to embark on a meaningful journey towards change, contributing to a future where inclusive gender equality is not just a plan but a standard practice.
Authored by Anamari Nakić, University of Zagreb
To find out more, please visit the CALIPER Project website.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 873134