EQUALS Research Group: Advancing Research for Gender Equality in the Digital Age
EQUALS is a global partnership with membership across different stakeholders including governments, private sector leaders, NGOs, communities, and individuals to promote gender equality in ICT access, skills, and leadership. The EQUALS Research Group ensures an evidence-based approach towards achieving the Partnership goals.
EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age is a coalition of programs dedicated to promoting digital gender equality. The Partnership was launched in September 2016 and co-founded by ITU, UN Women, UNU, ITC, and GSMA. EQUALS consists of three Coalitions representing three areas of action – Access, Skills, and Leadership. UNU-CS leads the EQUALS Research group and supports the Partnership’s work with data and evidence.
Stakeholders have identified inadequate gender-specific data as one of the main barriers to success for gender equality programs. Inadequate information can both mask unrecognized challenges and underestimate progress, leading to misguided policy and action or inaction. Data and research evidence are thus critical components of the EQUALS initiative. In addition to the Access, Skills, and Leadership Coalitions, EQUALS has a fourth crosscutting function, Research. UNU-CS leads the research function and has formed a Research Group to ensure an evidence-based approach towards achieving the Partnership goals.
The Research Group consists of institutions from academia, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, and governments. As at February 2018, the group has 35 member institutions recruited from 16 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America and South America. Members’ expertise includes gender studies, development studies, technology and society, communications, information science, computer science, business. Members contribute one or more tangible inputs such as research funds, data, research design, and analysis expertise or human resources.
The Research Group’s functions include developing a research agenda for EQUALS; carrying out primary research and collecting secondary data on gender equality; tracking progress towards the Partnership goals; and facilitating knowledge-sharing. Amongst other outputs, the Research Group will produce a flagship annual report on the state of gender equality in each of the three Coalition areas. As leader of the Research Group, UNU-CS is expanding its membership base and collaboratively developing and managing the research strategy of the Group based on the needs of the EQUALS Partnership.
The Research Group is guided by several broad concerns identified by the Access, Skills, and Leadership Coalitions: access strategies and policies; affordability; infrastructure; safety; mentorship; content; administration; digital entrepreneurship; and retention. More and better data is needed in these areas to improve comprehension of the dimensions of digital gender gaps and to develop and test appropriate solutions.
We have formed three working groups to focus on each of the EQUALS action areas. The subcommittees are working directly with their related EQUALS Coalitions to design research activities in support of the Coalition’s ongoing or planned activities. The broad focus areas of the three subcommittees are the following:
- Access subcommittee: gender gap in internet access and use.
- Skills subcommittee: gender gap in high-level digital skills.
- Leadership subcommittee: gender gap in leadership in tech.
UNU-CS will also work on in-house original research on gender equality in technology access, skills, and leadership to complement the work of the research group. Ongoing project includes a review of gender and STEM education in Asia.
TIMELINE OF KEY ACTIVITIES
- September 2018 – Expected launch date of the Inaugural Report of the Equals Research Group.
- January 2018 – Work being carried out by the Equals Research Group was featured in the UNU Sustainable Development Explorer.
- December 2017 – Representatives from 22 leading academic institutions forming part of the 31-member Equals Research Group met in Macau to draft work plans for the upcoming year, and finalize the content and schedule of its inaugural report among other tasks.
- June 2017 – The Equals Research Group had its first meeting which included a high-level discussion of the group’s goals and agenda.
- March 2017 – Equals Research Group was launched in Hong Kong.
Gender, ICTs, Access, Skills, Leadership, Evidence
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