Background and guide for applicants
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a complex area that touches on many different areas of knowledge and fields of research. Research into violence, into sexual harassment, and into other forms of harassment in the workplace are some of the cornerstones that can provide a better picture of the problem, make it more likely that prevention will work, and assist in developing effective intervention methods.
Working life in the Nordic countries has many similarities in terms of overall structures and regulations, but also in terms of usual practice and procedures. Yet we know little about the importance of these structures for understanding or preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
The main focus of the Open Call 2 is preventive measures and intervention methods in industry-specific or industry-comparative terms.i
Studies whose primary object is the prevention of sexual harassment in Nordic workplaces are largely lacking. We need knowledge about the preventive measures that are being implemented today in specific industries and why they work or do not work. Furthermore, we need to know who is being reached, and who is not being reached, by preventive measures or interventions, and the reasons why.
We need to explore, for example, whether there is anything to be gained for preventive measures from sharing experiences of comparing physical work in different sectors, in occupations where the body and the physical work of the employee are the main tools used, such as the cultural sector, sport or work in health and social care. Other cross-cutting dimensions could be in relation to work that involves client contact, work that involves patient/customer contact or academic or organisational work.
The recommendations for preventive work highlighted by existing studies are rarely specific or comprehensive, which indicates the need for future studies to explicitly investigate the effects of various strategies and working methods, preferably involving a comparative perspective, in order to establish scientific evidence of the possibilities of preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Industries face in part different and in part similar challenges. There is therefore potential for synergies if local analyses are also tied to more generic knowledge about sexual harassment and interventions, and if co-operation between industries occurs. Comparisons between different industries could provide a clear understanding of industry-specific and cross-industry challenges and opportunities.
In order to assess whether a phenomenon or problem is industry- or sector-specific, or big or small, comparative studies are relevant. Is it the industry or the sector that is specifically contributing to the problem? Or might it be the case that, for example, harassment due to working alone, physical work or precarious employment conditions is the decisive factor? Or do these factors interact or counteract each other? There are many questions, while the scale of the problem gives cause to pool resources to jointly find sustainable ways to combat and prevent sexual harassment.
There is a lack of comparative and follow-up studies in general, and there is a need for comparative studies of the Nordic countries to provide relevant, useful and practice-based knowledge. Research needs to reach practitioners, but equally the experience and needs of practitioners need to reach those who design research and innovation in the field.
In conclusion, this is why the main focus of the Nordic Research Initiative on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, has a focus on preventive measures and intervention methods in industry-specific or industry-comparative terms as described in figure 1.
Figure 1. Main focus of Open Call 2.
A further recommendation is to address sexual harassment from crosscutting perspectives, such as:
Sexual harassment in the workplace touches on many areas of knowledge – from work sciences research to research on health, organisations, power, violence, etc. For sustainable and robust knowledge, proposals are encouraged to include interdisciplinary approaches to their projects.
Intersectional approaches where aspects of a person’s social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege are relevant in order to address sexual harassment at work. International research shows that persons who belong to minority groups, or who are at risk of harassment due to attributes such as age, disability or sexuality, also run a greater risk of being sexually harassed. Proposals are encouraged to address the diversified and complex reality of working life, in order to contribute to well-targeted and effective prevention and new methods of intervention.
The lack of clear definitions of concepts related to sexual harassment makes work in the area difficult. The legal construction of the term sexual harassment provides limited scope for understanding the phenomenon or what the victim experiences sexual harassment to be. A recommendation is to call for reflection and clarity regarding the use of terms and the interpretation of these terms in the projects.
Spanning 2021-2023, NIKK is administering a research initiative on sexual harassment in the workplace on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The overall objective of the research initiative is to generate new knowledge that can contribute to eradicating sexual harassment in working life in the Nordic countries. The initiative is especially focused on prevention and intervention through industry studies and comparative studies of different industries. There are two calls for research funding during 2021.
The previous call, Open Call 1 that opened 20 April, closing 10 June, 2021 was for supplementary grants specifically aiming to add a Nordic Dimension to ongoing research projects.
This Open Call 2 for initiating practice-oriented research in collaboration with working life actors specifically aims to add new practice-oriented knowledge for prevention and intervention relevant for combating sexual harassment in working life in the Nordic region.
In the Open Call 2, funding will be given to projects intending to initiate practice-oriented research in collaboration with working life actors and with Nordic benefit, involving at least three Nordic countries/areas of the Nordic region: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, or the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.
The criteria in this Open Call are:
Proposals must contain detailed descriptions of how, and will be assessed based on how well, the project proposal meets these criteria.
Collaboration between the Nordic countries concerning shared challenges, such as sexual harassment in working life, is important in order to develop synergies and joint strategies. Taking advantage of similarities as well as differences in working life in the Nordic countries facilitates the development of new and diversified knowledge for combating sexual harassment in working life.
Projects that receive funding must add Nordic benefit to knowledge relevant to combating sexual harassment in working life. In this Open Call, this means that:
Successful proposals should contain reflections and arguments concerning how the research initiative will contribute such Nordic benefit.
Collaboration between working life actors and researchers is important for the development of practice-oriented and research-based knowledge relevant for combating sexual harassment in the workplace in the Nordic region. In this call, practice-oriented research implies research that is based on issues and challenges that are urgent and relevant to working life professionals. Such knowledge can be developed in many ways; in this call the focus is on prevention and intervention. Industry studies, or comparative studies of different industries, are encouraged (see Background – LINK-to-be-added).
This call therefore seeks proposals for collaborative research initiatives between researchers, based at universities and research institutions, and working life actors such as:
Successful proposals should contain
Scientific quality concerns the project’s relevance, theory, originality, as well as its method, and implementation.
Successful proposals should contain descriptions of the proposal’s:
The proposals should be based on collaboration between researchers and working life actors and involving at least three Nordic countries/areas (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, or Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland).
The Principal applicant requirements
The grant must be administered by the university, university college or research institute of the principal applicant.
Co-applicants – minimum two
At least one of the co-applicants must represent a working life actor (see above).
The grants in this call amount to between DKK 400 000 – 800 000 for a project of 6 – 18 months duration.
Co-financing is demanded, to the extent of 20 % of total sum.
The own contribution and/or other sources of funding could come from sponsorship or other financial contributions, working hours, or indirect costs for example.
The projects funded in this call are supposed to be contracted by the end of 2021 and enable start of project activities in the beginning of 2022.
Activities commenced before a project is contracted are not eligible for funding.
The tentative total funding for the Open Call 2 is DKK 1 850 000.
Applications are to be made in English, in an application form available through the following link (LINK-to-be-added)
Complete applications should be submitted no later than 7 October 2021 at 14:00 CET.
Applications received after deadline will be disregarded, as will any incomplete applications.
In addition to the information submitted on the online application form, the following documents are to be attached (in English):