A global call for action to include gender in research impact assessment

Global investment in biomedical research has grown significantly over the last decades, reaching approximately a quarter of a trillion US dollars in 2010. However, not all of this investment is distributed evenly by gender. It follows, arguably, that scarce research resources may not be optimally invested (by either not supporting the best science or by failing to investigate topics that benefit women and men equitably). Women across the world tend to be significantly underrepresented in research both as researchers and research participants, receive less research funding, and appear less frequently than men as authors on research publications. There is also some evidence that women are relatively disadvantaged as the beneficiaries of research, in terms of its health, societal and economic impacts. Historical gender biases may have created a path dependency that means that the research system and the impacts of research are biased towards male researchers and male beneficiaries, making it inherently difficult (though not impossible) to eliminate gender bias. In this commentary, we – a group of scholars and practitioners from Africa, America, Asia and Europe – argue that gender-sensitive research impact assessment could become a force for good in moving science policy and practice towards gender equity. Research impact assessment is the multidisciplinary field of scientific inquiry that examines the research process to maximise scientific, societal and economic returns on investment in research. It encompasses many theoretical and methodological approaches that can be used to investigate gender bias and recommend actions for change to maximise research impact. We offer a set of recommendations to research funders, research institutions and research evaluators who conduct impact assessment on how to include and strengthen analysis of gender equity in research impact assessment and issue a global call for action.


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Comment by Joy Eze on August 9, 2016 at 21:54
Non- implimentation of laws and policies where they exist is a major challenge to women health globally.
Comment by Nuha Mohamed Abdalla on August 9, 2016 at 12:13

This is great read, I am looking at the matters of maternal deaths and there is a need for gender sensitivity in assessing the impact of the grassroots health interventions. Still the authorities are dealing with the health issues as services to the community; women are not considered in a dis-aggregated way, at the same time maternal mortality is really high. Thanks a lot for bringing up such an issue.

Comment by Kanchan Lama on August 9, 2016 at 8:55

Bright ideas and pragmatic tool. Thank you very much for sharing

Yes, we practitioners should demand research to focus on research to become a force for good in moving science policy and practice towards gender equity. Interested to continue learning from your experiences.  

Comment by Leah Goldstein Moses on August 8, 2016 at 21:21

A relevant story played on our national news this morning: lack of research on the effect of medicines during and following pregnancy has left many women and their providers unsure of the best course of medical treatment. Thanks for your practical suggestions!


Comment by Rituu B Nanda on July 27, 2016 at 13:05

Pavel, it was a great learning to read through the paper. Many thanks for sharing!

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