WIT Women in Technology
Cristina Bahamonde - Nuclear and Chemical engineer working in the LHC collimation system. Collimators protect the machine’s most sensitive components against beam losses during operation. The pictures were taken during a collimator installation and hardware check as a part of the HL-LHC upgrade (Image: CERN)

CERN Gender Equality Plan

Gender Equality Plan (GEP) at CERN

Diversity is a core value at CERN.  Our rich, collaborative environment features a diverse pool of talented individuals from all over the world, working together towards a common goal. Incorporating this value across all aspects of our work is key for CERN as an international organisation, both towards its Member States and the wider community.

Demonstrating its early commitment to nurturing a diverse working environment, CERN appointed its first Equal Opportunities Officer in 1996, and in 2011 the Organization established the Diversity and Inclusion programme. Since that time, CERN has seen many actions and initiatives to promote gender equality and inclusion (See: Other GEP-related actions and activities, below).

In March 2021, CERN’s Senior Management (the “Enlarged Directorate”) endorsed a new D&I strategy called, “25 by ’25”.   The 25 by '25 strategy is a CERN-wide aspirational target to boosting gender and nationality diversity within the employed members of personnel (MPE) population. The strategy aims to reinforce efforts and advancements already in place through a leadership-led and collaborative approach and is the Organization’s flagship D&I action towards improving gender representation at CERN.

GEP “or equivalent” requirements

Given its long-standing commitment towards gender and diversity objectives, CERN is well in line with the European Commission’s (“EC”) reinforced commitment toward gender equality in European research organizations.

As set out in the EC’s Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, the following declaration underpins the European Union’s gender goals:  “In all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women.”  In this spirit, as of January 2022 all public bodies, research organisations or higher education institutions established in an EU Member State must have in place a Gender Equality Plan (“GEP”) “or equivalent” to be eligible for participation in Horizon Europe projects. This requirement applies to all Horizon Europe calls with a deadline in 2022, and beyond.

The European Commission defines a GEP as: “a set of commitments and actions that aim to promote gender equality in an organisation through a process of structural change”.

The EC has set out four mandatory requirements (or building blocks) which must be fulfilled (Ref. Gender equality in research and innovation) to satisfy Horizon Europe / GEP eligibility requirements.

Through its past and ongoing actions and initiatives, including the “25 by ‘25” strategy (detailed below), CERN fully meets the GEP criteria, making CERN eligible for participation in Horizon Europe project proposals within this time frame.

Below are the four Gender Equality Plan mandatory requirements and a summary of the actions and activities CERN has in place to satisfy these requirements:

1. Public document: "The GEP should be a formal document signed by the top management, and disseminated within the institution. It should demonstrate a commitment to gender equality, set clear goals and detailed actions and measures to achieve them."

Public commitment to gender equality @CERN

A consolidation and presentation of CERN’s GEP-related processes and actions was endorsed by the Organization’s senior management - the “Enlarged Directorate” - in July 2022.

Previously, in March 2021, the Enlarged Directorate also endorsed the 25 by´25 strategy, the Organization’s flagship strategic action toward improving the gender representation at CERN.

The gender aspirational objective under 25 by ’25 is to increase the percentage of women across the employed members of personnel to 25% by the end of 2025.  The Diversity & Inclusion website outlines the initiative and the implementation plan toward a more gender diverse and inclusive workplace, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) fields.

An article announcing the launch of the strategy and the senior management’s endorsement of it was published in the CERN Bulletin on 12 April 2021 here.  

2. Dedicated resources: "Resources for the design, implementation, and monitoring of GEPs may include funding for specific positions such as Equality Officers or Gender Equality Teams as well as earmarked working time for academic, management and administrative staff."

Dedicated Resources @CERN

The current Diversity & Inclusion Programme (formerly, “Diversity Office”) was established in  2011. The Programme’s personnel consists of a Programme Leader (Staff) and a Diversity Analyst (Fellow). The Programme has a dedicated annual budget to finance its activities.

The D&I Programme is situated within the Human Resources Department, reporting to the Head of Human Resources. More about the history of the Programme and its activities is available here. The D&I Programme Leader reports annually to the Member State representatives at the Tripartite Employment Forum.

In addition, under the 25 by ’25  initiative, CERN’s Department Heads are appointing Diversity & Inclusion Officers, to be allocated a small percentage of time to handle, promote, and share D&I matters relevant to their respective Department.

In addition, the expertise of the HR Reporting and Analytics team as well as dedicated Focal Points appointed by each Department Head to support the implementation of the 25 by ’25 strategy are working closely with the D&I Programme to monitor the progress under the 25 by ’25 gender target.

3. Arrangements for data collection and monitoring: “GEPs must be evidence-based and founded on sex or gender-disaggregated baseline data collected across all staff categories. This data should inform the GEP’s objectives and targets, indicators, and ongoing evaluation of progress.”

Data Collection and Monitoring @CERN

CERN gender (and other) disaggregated data are consolidated on an annual basis in the Annual Personnel Statistics exercise. The personnel statistics are published by the HR Reporting and Analytics team and are available here:  CERN personnel statistics

At 31 Dec 2020, the gender distribution of the CERN Employed Members of the Personnel (Staff and fellows) showed a representation of 21.41% of women across the Organization; at 31 Dec 2021 this figure stands at 21.9%. In the disciplines such as Research physicists, Scientific and engineering work and Technical work, the representation of women is much lower and work is ongoing to improve this figure.

In addition, the Reporting and Analytics team has designed Gender and Nationality dashboards for each Department. The dashboards are a valuable tool to inform the departments in which areas they should make additional efforts, in particular when it comes to recruitment exercises.     

 4. Training and capacity-building: “Actions may include developing gender competence and tackling unconscious gender bias among staff, leaders and decision-makers, establishing working groups dedicated to specific topics, and raising awareness through workshops and communication activities.”

Learning Hub @CERN

CERN’s Learning Hub includes a number of offers to raise awareness around unconscious bias in relation to gender in recruitment and career progression exercises.  Below, a sample of the learning offers (links accessible only by CERN personnel):

1/  Selecting the Right person for CERN includes content on unconscious bias.

2/  Getting to Grips with Supervision includes content on gender inclusive leadership style.

3/ Taking the Lead (directed at all senior managers): how to recognise and prevent misconduct in the workplace, with a particular focus on gender-based harassment.

4/ Active Bystander (directed at all members of the personnel): how to respond to, or to call out, misconduct in the workplace. 

5/ Respect in the Workplace : online resources for all members of the personnel to support learning on bias, diversity, and inclusion. 

Further to the above and in addition to the communication and awareness-raising activities, the D&I programme organises ad-hoc working groups on specific topics, such as during the implementation of “25 by ‘25”.

Other GEP-related Actions and Activities at CERN

Since the establishment of the Diversity and Inclusion programme in 2011, several initiatives have taken place at CERN to promote gender equality and inclusion, including:

  • Events and Conferences: 

A list of past events, conferences, and talks to promote gender equality at CERN are listed here.

  • Inter-Organizational Networks: 

CERN is a member of the Genera Network - a Gender Equality Network in the European Research Area. More information on the Genera Horizon 2020 project can be found here.

CERN Director-General, Fabiola Gianotti is a signatory to the International Gender Champions “panel parity pledge” as well as the “gender-based violence pledge”. Find out more about these commitments here.

  • Informal Networks:

Informal active networks where exchanges on gender-related discussions take place include: Women in Technology (“WIT”) network and the CERN LGBTQ network.

  • The Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable:

Established and hosted by the D&I Programme, the Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable convenes every two months to discuss matters of mutual interest, including on gender-related topics. Participants represent a number of formal and informal networks at CERN, including: the Diversity offices of the CERN Experiments, the Theory Department gender & diversity focal point, the WIT, LGBTQ Network, the Disability network, the International Relations taskforce, the Staff Association etc. The D&I Roundtable has produced policy recommendations to the Director-General, such as the revision of the English language version of the Staff Rules and Regulations to render the text gender inclusive (effective July 2021).

  • 5 Yearly Review (“5YR”):

Under a mandatory 5-yearly exercise, CERN conducts a comparative survey on social and diversity measures. This study informs CERN on its performance against a number of comparator international organizations in areas, such as: childcare facilities, flexible work arrangements, and leave for family reasons.


25 by ‘25 initiative

In March 2021, the senior Management endorsed the Diversity and Inclusion Programme’s initiative, “25 by ´25”.  The 25 by '25 strategy is a CERN-wide engagement and commitment to improving the diversity within the Members of the Personnel (MPE) in two specific dimensions: gender and nationality.

In addition to the past and current efforts and advancements, the strategy aims to reinforce these efforts through a leadership-led and collaborative CERN-wide approach.

Progress under 25 by '25 is reported on an annual basis to the CERN the Enlarged Directorate.  The departmental nationality and gender dashboards are specifically designed to record progress on a biannual basis and to enhance the departments’ understanding of any gender and nationality disparities.

A schematic overview of the project is here:


The 25 by ‘25 implementation is organised in three main phases:

  1. Phase 1 - Endorsement from the Director-General and Extended Directorate:  Completed March 2021
  2. Phase 2 - Department Heads appoint 25 by '25 “Focal Points” to carry out a Departmental D&I Review Exercise (an assessment of the Department’s D&I maturity level across 7 categories (including Recruitment, Promotion, and Leadership):  Completed Q1 2022
  3. Phase 3: Establish and implement Department-tailored "Fitness plans" to strengthen existing D&I maturity level and/or move toward the next level: Completion aimed by end Q3 2022

GEP Recommended Content Areas

In addition to the required elements set out above, the EC cites 5 recommended areas research organisations should considere in the context of a robust Gender Equality Plan:  

  1. Work-life balance and organisational culture
  2. Gender balance in leadership and decision-making
  3. Gender equality in recruitment and career progression
  4. Integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching content
  5. Measures against gender-based violence, including sexual harassment

CERN’s GEP-related actions and activities in the EC recommended areas:

Work-life balance and organisational culture

25 by’25 Strategy:

The 25 by ’25 Departmental D&I Review Exercise includes an evaluative category on “Work-Life Integration”, and is also included in the departments’ 25 by ‘25 “Fitness Plan” (i.e. commitment to certain actions and/or targets in this area).

5 Yearly Review (5YR):

Under the mandatory 5 yearly review exercise, CERN conducts a comparative survey on social measures at CERN, including a chapter on work-life integration. This study informs CERN on areas where it performs comparatively better than its comparators (e.g. availability of on-site childcare facilities) and on areas where it could improve (e.g. flexible work arrangements).

In CERN’s publication Your Life@CERN, personnel can browse a summary of the various benefits available to foster a balance between professional and personal lives.  


Gender balance in leadership and decision-making

25by25 Strategy:

The Departmental D&I Review Exercise includes an evaluative category on “Leadership”. This topic also forms part of the departments’ 25 by ‘25 “Fitness Plan” (i.e. commitment to certain action and/or targets in the leadership area).


Gender equality in recruitment and career progression

(Hyperlinks accessible only to CERN personnel)

CERN Learning Hub:

1/ A learning offer for panel members involved in staff selection includes content on recognising and reducing unconscious bias: Selecting the Right Person (unconscious bias)

2/ A learning offer for new supervisors includes content on managing diverse teams and unconscious bias: Getting to Grips with Supervision

Legal Framework:

1/ Administrative Circular No. 2 on Recruitment provides that the Organization must strive to ensure a representative distribution of genders

2/ Staff Rules and Regulations Staff Regulation R.II 1.06 requires the Organization to ensure that the composition of selection boards and committees is inclusive with respect to gender (subject to availability of qualified persons).  


Integration of the gender dimension into research and teaching content

This GEP recommendation applies primarily to University / Teaching institutions and is, therefore, not directly applicable for CERN. However, CERN indirectly contributes to this subject through its Teacher programme, which includes content for teacher participants on gender equality targets.

Academic Training Lecture Programme, and the Summer Student Lecture Programme pay particular attention to invite gender diverse speakers.


Measures against gender-based violence, including sexual harassment

(Hyperlinks accessible only to CERN personnel):

CERN Learning Hub

1/ Learning Catalogue: Taking The Lead (anti-harassment)

2/  Active Bystander: When and How to be an effective Bystander

3/ Learning Catalogue: Selecting the Right Person (unconscious bias)

Legal and Policy Framework:

Anti-Harassment Policy | Human Resources ( Operational Circular No.9 on the Principles and Procedures Governing Complaints of Harassment contains a statement that, “the Organization does not tolerate harassment”.