HOLiFOOD Gender policies


Advancing gender equality is central to all activities in HOLiFOOD, including its research objectives, the methodological approaches applied, impact pathways and policy translation, as well as researcher appointment, working environment and facilitation of career development. In addition, intersectionality issues (gender+) will be addressed in relation to social class, personal economic resources, race/ethnicity, religion, age, location (e.g., urban or rural residence), disability and health.

HOLiFOOD team members are committed to improve gender+ equality in relation to all project activities, and have developed a strategy which sets goals, detailed actions, and measures to achieve these aims.

HOLiFOOD has integrated gender+ equality into all project activities and has adopted an intersectional perspective by approaching gender as intersecting with other socioeconomic inequalities (adopting an intersectional or gender+ approach).

Advancing Gender Equality is in line with the European Commission’s Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025 which includes promoting gender equality in research and innovation (see EU website). A glossary with often used terminology around gender+ integration, and a list of abbreviations, has been provided. An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) has already been conducted by the consortium at the proposal development stage and key issues in relation to gender equality have been identified in relation to exposure science (WP3, hazard exposure assessment), recruitment of stakeholders (WP4) and societal engagement and citizen science activities, including citizen interviews and focus groups (WP5). The further use of EIA will ensure that gender is addressed in relation to impacts of interventions and policy impact assessment activities, for example in relation to the direct or indirect effects of new and existing food risks, or in developing and implementing policy and community mitigation strategies, including targeted risk communication activities.

To this end, the project has appointed a dedicated gender equality manager at Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR-WR), supported by researchers from Wageningen University (WU) and the University of Newcastle (UNEW).


This gender policy document describes the gender strategy to be applied within HOLiFOOD. The policy document includes task 9.6 to be delivered in the early stage of the project (i.e., Month 4). This document describes the gender actions to be conducted within HOLiFOOD, the associated timeline, indicators, and monitoring and evaluation procedures. Specifically, it addresses:

  1. HOLiFOOD team recruitment and working culture in relation to:
    • Balanced participation by gender and other social dimensions of inequality at all levels
    • Work-life balance for team members
    • Equitable, safe, and respectful working environments
    • Equal opportunities for involvement in the development of co-authored publications, periodic reports, and deliverables
    • Consortium and WP activities, periodic reports, and deliverables
  1. HOLiFOOD research in relation to:
    • HOLiFOOD objectives, methodologies, and representation among stakeholders, and citizen recruitment in surveys and interviews in relation to gender and socio-economic class

This document also describes the methodologies which will be used for data collection (e.g., shared templates, surveys, and periodic reporting), sharing information and co-design of inter-institutional agreements, including those made at dedicated consortium meetings, as well as equality and diversity capacity building issues, such as training or workshops.

HOLiFOOD Gender policy on recruitment and working culture

HOLiFOOD strategies on team recruitment and working culture have been designed to optimize:

  • Balanced participation for all positions by gender and other social dimensions of inequality as described above.
  • Work-life balance for HOLiFOOD team members
  • Equitable, safe, and respectful working environments

A survey will be conducted (Q4, 2023) which includes all members of the HOLiFOOD consortium, and which will provide a baseline of the knowledge of existing local institutional gender+ policies, perceived gender+ equality, gender issues arising within the research.

Balanced participation in partner organisations linked to HOLiFOOD and WP teams

HOLiFOOD is committed to creating an enabling environment to ensure wide participation of women and persons from diverse backgrounds in positions as academic supervisors, associate partners, and project managers and administrators, to work equitably, collaboratively, and successfully within the HOLiFOOD consortium.

HOLIFOOD Equality objectives include the following:

  1. Balance in leadership roles in relation to gender and other diversity
  2. A strategy to ensure equality and diversity in recruitment processes and

At the project development stage, a head count was conducted on the researchers involved in HOLiFOOD, including in relation to leadership roles. The ratio male/ female in HOLiFOOD was 34/27 and the ratio male/ female for WP leaders is 3/6.

To monitor the gender balance, a new head count will be conducted prior to the first annual report (Month 12), recording differentiation across job families (researchers, and technical support). We will also differentiate researchers in four grades (A to D) using EU classification (see SHE figures 2021).

Categories A-D for researchers:



The highest grade/post for research, e.g., ‘Full professor’ or ‘Director of research’.




More senior than newly qualified PhD graduates, e.g., ‘associate professor’ or ‘senior researcher’ or ‘principal investigator’.



The first grade/post into which newly qualified PhD graduate enrol, e.g., ‘assistant professor’, ‘investigator’ or ‘post-doctoral fellow’.



Researchers working in posts that do not normally require  a doctorate degree, e.g., ‘PhD candidate’ or ‘junior researchers’ (without PhD)

Source: Based on SHE figures (2021)

These data will be checked and analysed again at Month 24, and at the end of the project, Month 48, in order to monitor progress towards equality and diversity objectives.

This baseline analysis and subsequent monitoring will be conducted within WP9 (Task 9.6: lead WFSR-WR). A person will be appointed to the management board who will be responsible for the collation and analysis of these data, and for benchmarking against inclusivity metrics. The partners will provide the data in each partner institution by filling in a shared template sheet. To share the relevant documentation on recruitment from their institutions, partners will also provide links in a shared template and made available on the internal HOLiFOOD team site.

The data on researchers will be compared with the EU SHE figures (SHE figures 2021), and with national and institutional figures as far as these are available. A section in the periodic reporting (WFSR-WR) will detail progress towards gender equality in inclusivity within HOLiFOOD.

The results will be presented and discussed by HOLiFOOD participants at the first annual consortium meeting. The consortium members will agree on actions forward; for example, advice on support, and/or training and workshops facilitating capacity building in recruitment will be made available, if considered important.


Work-life balance for partner team members

A flexible working culture or appropriate work-life balance will be promoted including for project members with caring responsibilities. The following strategies will be applied:

  • Respecting contract hours, for example, regarding the length of the working day, weekends, and holiday time, including cultural and religious holidays, in relation to the timing of HOLiFOOD project meetings.
  • Facilitating and respecting carer or parental leaves
  • Ensuring that the needs of other HOLiFOOD team members with caring responsibilities can be addressed, g., those caring for elderly or disabled individulals)
  • Ensuring that all HOLiFOOD activities involving meetings can be accessed virtually
Equitable, safe and respectful working environment, including social safety

A safe and respectful working culture will be promoted, by:

  • Conducting a consortium workshop at the first annual plenary meeting with WP leaders and other interested researchers on sharing, discussing, and agreeing on what constitutes appropriate behaviour, and its violation by harassment or other behaviours, in alignment with their institutional Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) or equivalent, where available. Assigning a trained contact person for reporting violation of decent behaviour within the HOLiFOOD management team (the dedicated gender manager).
  • Training options can be shared or made available if considered important, g., training on unconscious bias (see also further readings and tools)


Reporting in periodic reports

To facilitate reporting on the gender dimension in the periodic reports, the HOLiFOOD coordinator will include 3-4 questions to report on equality and diversity issues to be answered by WP leads. The gender equality manager will report on the results in the gender dimension section, and at the evaluation sessions.

Gender+ integration in HOLiFOOD research

Follow up on EIA indications

HOLiFOOD has performed an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA), which indicated that the inclusion of gender+ considerations is required in WPs working with stakeholders and WPs recruiting citizens, as well as in terms of policy recommendations and impact pathways. This can be further explored in dedicated meetings with the specific WPs and the gender manager within HOLiFOOD, or with invited gender experts.

Specific meetings will be organised to facilitate discussion of emerging issues identified across the consortium with the gender manager.


Communication and dissemination strategies

Communication and dissemination strategies typically require specific consideration in order to be inclusive. Guidelines on language, imagery, and accessibility (e.g., in relation to website design) will be monitored in the reporting.


Inclusion in documentation and reporting

The website will include a dedicated area for relevant documentation relating to gender+ issues. WP teams will report on possible relevant gender+ aspects in their research in both their deliverables and periodic reporting.

References and materials

  • European Commission, DG Research and Innovation (2021). She figures 2021: tracking progress on the path towards gender equality in research and innovation, Publications Office https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2777/602295
  • SPRINT Gender committee (2022). Gender insights into the EU-SPRINT project, Deliverable number: D9.2 – Lead beneficiary: WU


EIA – Equality Impact Assessment

EIGE – European Institute for Gender Equality

GBV – Gender-based violence

GEP – Gender Equality Plan

M&E – Monitoring and Evaluation

UNEW  – University of Newcastle

WLB – Work-life balance

WP – Work package

WSFR – Wageningen Food Safety Research – Wageningen Research

WU – Wageningen University

Glossary on gender+ integration

SEX refers to the biologically determined characteristics. Sex is globally understood as the classification of living beings as male, female, or intersex (EC 2014).

GENDER refers to the social construction of women and men, of femininity and masculinity, which varies in time and place, and between cultures (EC 2014).

GENDER RELATIONS are the ways in which a society defines rights, responsibilities and the identities of men and women in relation to one another. Gender relations are based on power and negotiations, and gender roles are closely linked, influencing the definition and development of one another (FAO 2012).

GENDER NORMS refer to the gender dimensions of social norms, or the societal expectations of how men and women ought to behave in their everyday affairs. Social norms also “structure social interactions in ways that allow social actors to gain the benefits of joint activity. And they determine in significant ways the distribution of the benefits of social life” (Petesch et al. 2018, Knight and Ensminger 1998).

GENDER+ DIMENSION or INTERSECTIONALITY acknowledges the heterogeneity among women, among men and among non-binary genders by examining the gender dimension as intersecting with other social dimensions to which binary and hierarchical social values are attached as to gender. Examples of such dimensions intersecting with the sex/gender dimension are age/generation, class/wealth, race/ethnicity, geographical location (e.g., urban/rural), religion, civic status, sexual orientation, health status. Identities, relations, and institutional structures often reflect the value loaded attributions and internalisations to these dimensions which possibly complicate and aggravate gender inequalities.

GENDER EQUALITY refers to the situation where individuals of all sexes are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without limitations imposed by strict gender roles or norms. The different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally (EC 2014).

EMPOWERMENT refers to the access to resources and development of personal capacities to be able to participate actively in shaping one’s own life and that of the community in economic, social and political terms (EC 1998).

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY indicates the absence of barriers to economic, political and social participation on the grounds of sex, often intersecting with other socially made distinctions. 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 as well as other inequities, is to be distinguished from equal treatment, which merely implies avoiding direct discrimination (EC 2014).

GENDER EQUITY articulates that women and men have different needs and power and that these differences should be identified and addressed in a manner that rectifies the imbalances between the sexes. This may include equal treatment, or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities. Though often used interchangeably, especially policy makers stress that equality and equity are two very distinct concepts. Therefore, the term should be used with caution to ensure it is not masking a reluctance to speak more openly about discrimination and inequality (EIGE website glossary).

GENDER-SENSITIVE and GENDER-RESPONSIVE refer to approaches that encompass the understanding and consideration of socio-cultural factors underlying sex-based discrimination (gender-sensitivity), as well as taking actions to overcome gender biases in order to improve gender equality (gender- responsiveness) (EIGE 2019). Some differentiate between these approaches on whether it is questioned and addressed how to overcome gender biases and reduce gender inequalities more in-depth or structurally (e.g., EIGE ↔ UNESCO).

GENDER MAINSTREAMING refers to the systematic integration of equal opportunities for women and men into the organization and its culture and into all programmes, policies and practices; into ways of seeing and doing (EC 2000).

SOCIAL SAFETY in learning and working environments refers to the situation in which people do not feel threatened by the behaviour of others and can be confident that they can express a different opinion or bring forward new facts without being insulted, humiliated, intimidated, or silenced. It enables people to better learn from one another and develop new insights as well as being less afraid of making mistakes and more willing to explore new possibilities. Social safety is considered a prerequisite for individuals and groups to work, learn, and perform together effectively and therefore seen as essential to free exchange of ideas and the flourishing of scientists and science (KNAW 2022).

MONITORING and EVALUATION refers to the continuous assessment of programmatic implementation in relation to agreed schedules and of the use of inputs, infrastructure, and services, and its periodic assessment of the relevance, performance, efficiency, and impact (expected and unexpected) in relation to stated objectives (WB 2012).


Resource: Glossary on gender+ integration source: SPRINT Gender committee (2022). Gender insights into the EU- SPRINT project, Deliverable number: D9.2 – Lead beneficiary: WU.