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Call for Proposals: Breaking Systemic Barriers to Women’s Participation in Science

Call for Proposals: Breaking Systemic Barriers to Women’s Participation in Science

Deadline: 15 August 2019

The Foundations for Innovation Program at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has launched a call for research proposals to identify and address systemic barriers that stand in the way of a greater participation of womenand other under-represented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields in both the public and the private sector, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

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Systemic barriers in STEM are conditions attributable to institutional values, cultures, policies and practices that implicitly or explicitly restrict the potential of institutions2 to successfully attract, recruit, retain and promote women scientists and other groups in STEM fields where these are currently a minority.

This call aims to generate evidence on LMICs, document situations of status quo and progressive initiatives, current or recent, in these countries, as well as support novel actions in LMICs that may advance specific Sustainable Development Goals, such as SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), SDG 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure).

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This call is an opportunity for higher education institutions in LMICs to learn from and share their recent experience of promoting new approaches for greater diversity and inclusion in STEM studentship, research teams and leadership. These include, among others, experiences led by academic faculties of education to strengthen pedagogical capacities for such novel approaches, at all levels of the education system.


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The call underscores IDRC’s commitment to support a major research effort to:

  • build robust evidence from LMICs on the nature of systemic barriers and their consequences on the engagement of women and under-represented groups in science endeavors;
  • build robust evidence from LMICs on the results to date of deliberate interventions by specific institutions to mitigate or eliminate systemic barriers to a greater participation of women and other under-represented groups, as well as increase diversity of personnel in fields of STEM; and
  • provide an opportunity for institutions, both those which have been pro-active and those which until now may have been less so, to design, implement and monitor novel approaches and interventions, in order to learn from these and more effectively address important barriers standing in the way of women and other under-represented groups’ fuller participation in STEM fields.

Funding Information

  • Total amount of funds available for this call: at least CA$ 2.8 million.
  • IDRC contribution to budget of each proposal: CA$ 200,000 – CA$ 500,000.
  • Number of fundable projects: between 5 and 14.
  • Duration of projects: up to 60 months, depending on type of proposal.

Who can apply?

Institutions or consortiums with a strong presence in eligible low- and middle-income countries (see the list of eligible countries below) and with the following qualifications are invited to submit a proposal.

  • Type of organization: The proposed research can be carried out by a research institution, a research consortium, or a non-governmental organization with strong research capacity. This institution or group of institutions must be independent from the institution(s) to be studied. Donors, UN entities, multilateral organizations, independent researchers and for-profit consulting firms are not eligible to apply for this call.
  • Collaboration: The lead applicant institution should be from an LMIC, while institutions based in high-income countries can participate as collaborators on the proposal. As regards consortia, priority will be given to those led by an LMIC institution. IDRC will give preference to proposals which demonstrate a close collaboration between the applying independent research institution(s) and the institutions whose experience is to be studied. A formal statement signed by the latter must be appended to the proposal, which will confirm agreement with, and support to, the proposed research, as well as a commitment to follow up on findings and recommendations, as appropriate.
  • Regions of research focus: Latin America and Caribbean, Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa (notably West Africa).

Note: All IDRC prospective grantees must secure and submit to IDRC an official country clearance for their research projects, before they are able to receive IDRC funding. Such official clearance must reach IDRC within a maximum of 90 days following IDRC’s funding offer, beyond which IDRC reserves itself the right to cancel its offer.

How to Apply

Applications should be submitted online either in English or in French via given website.

Eligible Countries: Afghanistan*, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi*, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic*, Chad*, Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)*, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon*, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Venezuela*, Vietnam, West Bank* and Gaza, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia*, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar*, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Zambia, Zimbabwe*.

*Applications that involve research collaborators based in these countries are eligible; however such applications may be subject to a further stage of review within IDRC before these can be approved.

For more information, please visit https://www.idrc.ca/en/funding/breaking-systemic-barriers-womens-participation-science

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