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

Updated Information

Deadline date correction.


International Development Research Centre (IDRC) 


Foundations for Innovation Program

For More Information

For more information about the call objectives, eligibility, timelines, selection criteria, review process, application guidelines, and suggested research topics, please refer to the following documents:


The Foundations for Innovation Program at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has launched this call for research proposals to identify and address systemic barriers that stand in the way of a greater participation of women and 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). Systemic barriers in STEM are conditions attributable to institutional values, cultures, policies and practices that implicitly or explicitly restrict the potential of institutions to successfully attract, recruit, retain and promote women scientists and other groups in STEM fields where these are currently a minority. 

Issues and research questions which could be addressed in proposals for this call include but are not limited to the following:

  • Leadership and Power Structure: What policies have been put forward to promote diversity in STEM?
  • Employment and Careers: What policies have been set up to support minorities’ enrollment and recruitment, fair remuneration and promotion in STEM?
  • Safety and Harassment: What policies have been put in place to create inclusive, accessible and secure work environments in STEM?
  • Novel Approaches to Training and Research
  • Using Data and Evidence: Do STEM institutions have mechanisms in place to collect equality and diversity data?


Institutions or consortiums with a strong presence in eligible low- and middle-income countries are encouraged to apply; see Appendix A of the call document for list of eligible countries.  Regions of research focus include Latin America and Caribbean, Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa (notably West Africa).

The lead applicant institution should be from an LMIC, while institutions based in high-income countries can participate as collaborators on the proposal.

Three types of proposals will be considered

  1. Type 1 - Research proposals on status quo situations:
    • Identify, characterize institutional policies and practices which do not deliberately promote diversity and inclusion, and verify their effect on recruitment, retention, promotion of women and other groups in education and research in STEM fields.
    • Up to 36 months, up to CA$ 200,000
  2. Type 2 - Research proposals on progressive situations:
    • Identify and characterize policies and practices introduced by the institution(s) to deliberately promote diversity and inclusion, and document their results so far on recruitment, retention, promotion of women and other groups in education and research in STEM fields.
    • Up to 36 months, up to CA$ 200,000
  3. Type 3 - Research action proposals for improving current situations (either status quo or progressive):
    • In addition to characterizing the current situation (baseline), design and implement new interventions to significantly improve institutions’ ability to recruit, retain and promote the participation of women and other groups in education and research in STEM fields; monitor initial outcomes and reflect on the longer term implications of these new interventions.
    • Up to 60 months, up to CA$ 500,000

IMPORTANT: In all three types of proposals, the research must be proposed and led by an independent research institution. Public or private institutions engaged in STEM fields and concerned with these issues (and/or doing pilots already) are very much encouraged to identify and contact an independent research institution which can apply with a proposal to research the experience of the interested public or private institution.

Funding Availability

The total amount of funds available for this call is at least $ 2.8 million. 

Maximum Project Value

The IDRC contribution to the budget of each proposal: $ 200,000 - $ 500,000. 

Between 5 and 14 projects will be funded.

Indirect Costs

IDRC will allow indirect costs up to 13% of all recipient-administered costs including the amount awarded toward the procurement of equipment. 

Project Duration

Up to 60 months (depending on the type of proposal).


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

Please submit a signed OR-5 form and full application package to


External Deadline

Questions about this call for proposals will be accepted by IDRC until August 5, 2019.

External Deadline

Applications should be directly submitted online by 5:00 PM (EST) on August 15, 2019.

How to Apply

Applications should be submitted online by 5:00 PM (EST) on August 15, 2019, either in English or in French.

A complete application package includes:

  • A completed proposal, to be submitted using the online application form (detailed guidelines included in the call document);
  • Up to three (3) samples of work that demonstrate capacity to carry out rigorous research on the proposed topic, as well as integrate gender-based analysis in research (upload publications/PDFs at end of the application form);
  • An estimated budget, with a cost breakdown by categories using the IDRC budget template.
  • Up to four curricula vitae (CVs) of research team members (each CV should not exceed two pages); and
  • A formal statement of interest and commitment from the institution(s) to be studied to support the research and follow up on its findings and recommendations, as appropriate.
For Questions, please contact

For additional information, please contact IDRC via email:

Office of Research

Carolyn Dowling-Osborn, Senior Manager, Grants & Contracts
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x52935

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