The success of equality measures can be measured

April 04, 2018

How is equality achieved in different EU Member States – and how successful are these measures? The EU project EFFORTI, coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI, has developed an evaluation system to measure the effect of equality measures in the area of research and development (R&D). Reports on gender inequality in R&D in seven European countries have now been published.

Dealing productively with diversity is a success factor for companies and universities. This is particularly important for research and development: the potential of women, older employees or employees from a wide variety of backgrounds leads to more creative ideas, wider perspectives and new approaches.

Against this background, a research team in the EU project EFFORTI has developed indicators which investigate the impact of equality measures on the quality and the performance of research and innovation. In addition to classical indicators such as the number of patents and publications new concepts are being integrated. For example, Fraunhofer ISI has introduced indicators of the area “Responsible Research and Innovation“ in which it has already carried out several research projects. Dr. Susanne Bührer, project manager at Fraunhofer ISI, lists examples, “We wish to investigate whether women are more involved than their male colleagues in the areas of science communication, science education and the involvement of societal actors.“ A toolbox which is available on the project website contains all indicators as well as a large amount of further information on the evaluation approach.

The research team has also published a comparative report. It shows amongst other things, that Germany has made enormous progress as far as equality in research and development is concerned. The monitoring of equality measures too has only recently received growing attention in Germany.

The comparative report is based on seven country reports which analyze the framework conditions of equality in Austria, Germany Denmark, Spain, Hungary, France and Sweden. One focus of the study was on the gender specific participation and segregation in the research and innovation system, on equality strategies and their impact on research, technology, development and innovation in the individual countries and their respective evaluation practices.

Dr. Susanne Bührer lists important results, “Throughout Europe, women are exposed to precarious work situations in higher education far more frequently than men, and this situation is particularly pronounced in Hungary. In recent years, the number of women scientists has generally increased throughout Europe. Spain remains the front-runner in research and development for women. Irrespective of research and innovation, it can finally be shown that women continue to do a much higher proportion of unpaid work than men. However, the differences are least pronounced in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark.“

The next step is an online toolbox. This enables users from ministries, companies and research institutions, etc. to measure the diverse effects of various gender equality measures and, if necessary, adapt the funding instruments. The Toolbox will be available free of charge from May 2019.



The project EFFORTI (Evaluation Framework for Promoting Gender Equality in R&I) is funded by the European Commission under Horizon2020. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the positive effects of gender equality in research and development and thus contribute to a research and innovation system that is aware of its social responsibility.

In addition to the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization IAO, the University of Catalonia (Spain), the University of Aarhus (Denmark), Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft (Austria), the Association of Hungarian Women in Science, NaTE (Hungary) and Intrasoft International (Luxembourg) are involved in the project. Analyses are carried out in Denmark, Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, Spain and Hungary. The project will end in May 2019 after three years.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.