Equal opportunity1 indicates the absence of barriers to economic, political and social participation on the grounds of sex. Such barriers are often indirect, difficult to discern and caused by structural phenomena and social representations that have proved particularly resistant to change. Equal opportunities, which is founded on the rationale that a whole range of actions are necessary to redress deep-seated sex and gender-based inequities, should be distinguished from equal treatment, which merely implies avoiding direct discrimination.


Gate-keepers2 are established scientists or peers that control the definition of merit and the means of exercising academic power. More generally, gate-keeping processes can aim to control or influence the entry or access to a particular arena, allocation of resources and information flows, the setting of standards, development of the field and the agenda, or the external image of that arena. Gate-keeping can function as exclusion and control, on the one hand but, on the other hand, it can also facilitate and provide opportunities and resources.


Gender vs. Sex:3 It is important to distinguish clearly between gender and sex. These terms are often used interchangeably while they are conceptually distinctive. Sex refers to the biologically determined characteristics of men and women in terms of reproductive organs and functions based on chromosomal complement and physiology. As such, sex is globally understood as the classification of living things as male or female. Gender refers to the social construction of women and men, of femininity and masculinity, which varies in time and place, and between cultures. The notion of gender appeared in the seventies and was put forward by feminist theorists who challenged the secondary position of women in society. It departs from the notion of sex to signal that biology or anatomy is not a destiny. 


Gender bias2 is the often unintentional and implicit differentiation between men and women by placing one gender in a hierarchical position relative to the other in a certain context, as a result of stereotypical images of masculinity and femininity. It influences both the participation of men and women in research (hence the underrepresentation of women) and the validity of research. An example of gender bias in research is research that focuses on the experience and point of view of either men or women, while presenting the results as universally valid.


Gender budgeting4 is part of the gender mainstreaming strategy. Gender budgeting focuses on a gender-based analysis and an equality-oriented evaluation of the distribution of resources. These resources are mainly money, time as well as paid and/or unpaid work. Gender budgeting seeks to achieve a gender-equal distribution of resources.


Gender mainstreaming2 is the systematic integration of the respective situations, priorities and needs of women and men in all-mainstream policies with a view to promoting equality between women and men.


Gendered Innovations3 are defined as processes that integrate sex and gender analysis into all phases of basic and applied research to assure excellence and quality in outcomes.


Gender-sensitive indicators demonstrate changes in gender relations in a given society over a period of time. They are used to assess progress in achieving gender equality by measuring changes in the status of women and men over a period of time. Gender-sensitive indicators may be used as a tool to assess the progress of a particular development intervention towards achieving greater gender equality.


Innovation refers to new ideas, new knowledge, and new technologies and design.


Methods of gender analysis represent ways to integrate sex and gender into research from the start. The state-of-the-art methods of gender analysis are described in twelve sections in the Gendered Innovations project. Accordingly, sex and gender are foreseen to influence all stages of research, from strategic considerations for establishing priorities and building theory to more routine tasks of formulating questions, designing methods, and interpreting data.



1 “Structural change in research institutions: Enhancing excellence, gender equality and efficiency in research and innovation”, European Union, 2012, and references therein unless otherwise indicated.

2 Meta-analysis of gender and science research Synthesis report, European Union, 2012

3 Gendered innovations, “How Gender analysis Contributes to research”, report of the Expert Group “Innovation through Gender”, European Union, 2013