Articleaffirmative actions - equal opportunities - Europe - good practice - innovation - science

Being Useful
the Genport How-to

A new portal is collecting resources about gender and science. The very first phase of the project was trying to answer two pivotal questions: is it really useful? And for whom? This is how they did it

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GenPORT is a developing online community of practitioners, served by an internet portal and made up of organisations and individuals working across the globe for gender equality and excellence in science, technology or innovation. The project is receiving financial support from the European Commission from May 2013 to April 2017, through the European Union's 7th Framework Programme. We are a consortium of 6 partners from Italy (FGB), Germany (GESIS), Slovakia (UMB), Sweden (ORU) and the UK (Portia) led by the UOC, Spain.  We take an inclusive view of ‘science’ which covers all sciences – natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. 

Throughout the project we aim to not only provide access to resources in the many fields of gender and science but to support the communication flows of existing networks working in this field whilst enabling the development of new networks and communities through various on-line tools, services and resources.

You may ask, why we need yet another portal?  What can GenPORT offer the already cluttered landscape of gender and science? Why GenPORT when we have Google? Much has been done to advance gender equality in science through research, practical action and policy developments. These activities have led to the production of a tremendous quantity of gender and science resources spanning various types, including best practices, statistical datasets, articles, reports, policy documents and evaluations to name but a few. These resources are however currently scattered both online and offline. As the online world becomes increasingly cluttered – providing a one-stop-shop for gender and science resources becomes all the more necessary. A single focal point for gender and science resources means that we can begin to establish connections between useful resources, institutions and stakeholders through a problem-based approach. It is hoped that this will boost the sharing of knowledge, experiences and resources in how to overcome specific problems faced in the realm of gender and science.  Having a dedicated portal in this field will also increase the visibility and accessibility of currently difficult to find but useful resources.

But what is useful? And useful to whom?  We are currently carrying out a needs assessment with the different stakeholders working in the field in order to determine what they would find useful on a gender and science portal. First, we identified various different groups of stakeholders that formed part of three key groups, science stakeholders, gender equality stakeholders and policymakers. Each project partner is responsible for carrying out 25 needs assessment interviews in their specific country cluster (Southern Europe, Nordic Countries, Continental Europe, UK and Ireland, Eastern Countries) across these three main stakeholder groups.  

The needs assessment first covers the main objectives and priorities, activities and target groups of the organisations represented.  This information is key for when we begin to construct the user profiles that will act as archetypes for the main user groups of the portal.

We ask our stakeholder interviewees about their main thematic area or main concern in gender and science, followed by questions concerning the main obstacles to gender equality.  We also ask them to provide examples of the practical challenges that they have faced in their pursuit of gender equality. This information is key for the design of the portal in order to identify the key words used by different stakeholders when describing a particular theme in gender and science – these will more likely than not be the search terms used whilst looking for resources or services. It will also enable us to develop a robust classification framework in terms of content that makes sense for our target stakeholders.

We are currently trying to map the specific informational needs and workflows of our targeted stakeholders. We ask them to identify the 5 information sources that they use the most in their current workday. We also attempt to identify the information sources that key stakeholders consult if they have a specific gender and science query. Gathering this information is necessary in order to know which types of resources our stakeholders find the most useful (statistical data, articles.. etc) and identify where GenPORT should be present in terms of links to other webpages.

Interviewees are also asked to rate the different types of resources and services that they would like to see on the portal from 1- as not very useful, to 5- which is very useful. This section however is not closed as we ask our respondents to be creative in thinking about the vast array of resources and services that GenPORT may be able to provide. Possible services may include online discussion forums, stakeholder database, experts database, and the sharing of resources through social networking platforms and a five star rating of resources.  Collecting this information is key to ensuring that the services that Genport offers reflects the real needs of stakeholders working in this field. 

If you would like to carry out an online needs assessment please visit This will enable us to shape GenPORT to your needs!

What can  GenPORT offer you?

  • A global space to showcase a huge range of work on gender and science, to maximise its reach and influence.
  • A single point from which to browse, search and access the highest quality resources on gender and science issues, organised thematically, linguistically, or geographically, and linked to related items.
  • Support for users to seek advice and advance their understanding of the gender issues in science
  • A role in shaping the design of the portal and its contents according to particular information needs and search practices.
  • Additional services to support user activities on gender and science – news and announcements, events calendars, translations and reviews, discussion groups, and much more.