Irish Research Council's Gender Strategy & Action Plan 2013-2020

Attention to Sex will Improve Benefits from Research

Seat belts were originally designed using only a male body type and this ultimately had consequences for female use. With this in mind, the Irish Research Council has developed a strategy to ensure the results of research can be applied to both males and females. The Strategy has been launched by the EU Science and Research Commissioner, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn. 

According to Commissioner Geoghegan Quinn, 

‘Not including the gender dimension in the design, methodology, and impact assessment where it is relevant, can lead to poor research. The quality of research and innovation is enormously enhanced by regard being had to the impact of that research on both men and women.  We cannot afford to waste potential innovation opportunities.’ 

The Council want to ensure that, where appropriate, researchers take into account both male and female analysis in their work. The Irish Research Council’s approach has already been praised internationally.  The EU-US ‘Gendered Innovations’ project has indicated that gender can be a critical aspect of research and innovation, in areas ranging from pharmaceuticals and transportation. 

Prof. Orla Feely, Chair of the Irish Research Council, said, 

“We want to see our funded researchers consider whether gender is a variable relevant to their research and, if it is, how they should respond.  We can assist them by informing them of international best practice in this area.  This will not only increase the potential impact of the research, but it will also improve the ability of Irish-based researchers to compete in international schemes where consideration of gender is increasingly a factor.” 

Consideration of gender will be a requirement in Horizon 2020. 

The Irish Research Council goal is to enhance excellence in research and excellent research which fully considers whether biological sex and / or social gender is a valid variable to consider to maximise the impact and societal benefit of research.  A recent example of work funded by the Irish Research Council which encompasses this approach is a study ‘Childhood Obesity: Investigating the relationship of parent and child physical activity levels’.  Gender plays a major role in this study. This study aims to investigate the relationship of parent-child physical activity levels across a range of different ages. Both parents will be assessed and as will boys and girls as part of this study.

The Irish Research Council's Gender Strategy & Action Plan 2013-2020 is available here.