The Irish Research Council expands its gender categories to be more inclusive

Posted: 18 June, 2021

‘Woman’, ‘man’, ‘gender non-binary’, ‘other’ and ‘prefer not to say’ will now be offered as gender identifiers to all users of the Irish Research Council’s grants management system. It is anticipated that this will be part of a series of steps that will be introduced to make the research funding system fairer and more inclusive.

In 2013, the Council published one of the first Gender Strategies for research funders in Europe. It laid out several initiatives to promote a level playing field for men and women. However, it is now recognised that more work is needed to expand on these strategies and to broaden their reach beyond the binary mindset of gender. The Council has commissioned an independent review of the current Gender Strategy and will be publishing the outcome in due course. The recommendations from this report and feedback from planned consultation with the research community will feed into the development of a new Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy for the Irish Research Council from 2022 onwards.

An important part of updating the grants management system involves alerting existing registered users to the changes in gender identifiers. Historically, the gender categories offered were ‘male’ and ‘female’, with ‘other’ included since 2016. The terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are used as biological sex identifiers, denoting anatomical characteristics typically, but not always, unique to one sex. These terms have less bearing on who an individual is in relation to gender. The terminology associated with gender is ever-expanding, including those who do not associate with any gender. For this reason, the categories have been updated and these updates will apply to all current and past registered user profiles, automatically changing ‘male’ to ‘man’ and ‘female’ to ‘woman’ as a practical measure. The Council invites all users, past and present, to log in to their profile and update their gender categorisation as they see fit.

The Council has been working alongside other national funding agencies to ensure consistent and cohesive actions are taken to encourage a more inclusive and diverse research culture in Ireland. The gender categories agreed upon amongst this group are expected to be rolled out by other funders in the coming months.

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