I work with assessment of EU cluster applications in the area of ICT and Innovation. Usually these are very technology oriented, with a focus on technical developments. I read and assess applications with a special interest in gender equality a few times every semester. I must admit that it is quite a horrible experience, as the competence in this area is so low that it is upsetting.
Here are a three pieces of advise related to gender equality for all companies applying for funding in these EU cluster applications:
- ICT is not gender neutral. ICT is indeed not a transparent, value free tool. Instead ICT is appropriated in the context of our society. The norm is that men are interested in ICT, know ICT and when ICT doesn’t work men are expected to work with the solutions. Women are often passive receivers of ICT, are expected to be non-intereted and their needs are often neglected when designing ICT. How till you address this complexity in your project?
- Gender Equality is about the users of ICT. Gender Equality in you application can be about the use of the system. How will you market the system? Who are the users? How do you make sure that your system addresses the needs of all user groups? In what way do needs vary between user groups? (As the majoritet of ICT projects don’t really look at the users’ needs in a structured way, looking at gender differences might seem completely off your horizon but is necessary.)
- How do you create an inclusive project? Gender equality in your project is about creating an inclusive project where everyone is welcome. Guiding stars are transparency in all aspects of the word, equal salaries, equal opportunities, equal support. It is also about meeting cultures, and creating a team where everyone is listened to. You also need to look at your recruitment process for your project. Is the advertisement directed towards men? How do you assess the applications? Everyone in your team will benefit from working with these aspects of gender equality, and most probably the ICT product will also be better, more creative and sell more if you succeed in having an inclusive project.
Of course there are lots of more things to work with related to gender equality, but if you work with the above you are up to a good start. And also if these three aspects are included in your application it will be one of the best I’ve seen so far. And of course that also increases your chances of being funded!