CASPER: Building Consensus towards European Gender Equality

The CASPER project will examine the feasibility of establishing a European award/certification system for gender equality for Research Performing Organizations. Based upon an extensive assessment of available systems and needs across Europe and beyond, we will develop and evaluate three possible scenarios that pave the ground for a realistic EU wide award/certification framework. Overall, we pursue three objectives:

  1. To map and assess existing award and certification systems for gender equality (and related schemes) and to identify existing needs for such a system on the European level
  2. Design three different award/certification scenarios and assess the feasibility of these scenarios plus a fourth no-action scenario along several dimensions.
  3. Prepare the ground for a successful roll-out of a European award/certification scheme

Our core values

CASPER uses a highly participatory approach. In collaboration with a network of 28+ national experts, the Consortium will carry out an initial round of 60+ interviews in order to map existing needs and legal frameworks across Europe. Results will feed into 10 co-creation workshops across five countries to design alternative EU award/certification scenarios, followed by a second round of interviews and walk-through scenarios for their validation.

We are clearly aware of the double-edged nature of any certification system that involves elements of control as well as empowerment through transparency and quality control. Our focus lies on exploring certification systems that genuinely empower European gender equality actors and put gender equality values at the heart of the process.

The focus of the European award/certification system lies on organizational issues of gender equality. However, CASPER is committed to approachgender equality from an intersectional perspective. Any future oriented certification system has to address gender equality in relation to race, class, disability.

Conceptual approach

The starting points for our conceptual approach towards a European award/certification system include a 1) focus on structural change as an effective instrument for gender equality; 2) the diversity of functions that certification systems can fulfil 3) the definition of evaluation and quality criteria as a political process, and 4) the diversity of European national contexts and existing schemes.

These four broader and more conceptual issues orient our discussion with stakeholders when it comes to defining and evaluating in more detail the different dimensions of a particular certification scenario, namely: certification content (“what” gets certified?), certification process (“how” will the certification be carried out?), the certification target audience (“who” will be certified?), and the certification authority (by “whom” will the certification be carried out?). The following illustration summarizes our overall conceptual approach:

We recognize that the implementation of Gender Equality Plans is a key instrument for institutional change in research organizations. Certification/award schemes for gender equality can act as a prominent driver for the success of these Gender Equality Plans. Promotion and evaluation activities can enable a better understanding of organizational diversity and contribute towards inducing structural and culture change. Furthermore, such schemes can enhance the inclusivity and gender-sensitivity of research and innovation content.