“Moving beyond diagnoses: gender equality and incorporation of female talent in higher education, research and university management”

The series of seminars Universities and Gender "Moving beyond diagnoses: gender equality and incorporation of female talent in higher education, research and university management" held on October 5 and 6, continues the collaboration between the CUIMPB-Centre Ernest Lluch and the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP).

There are numerous analyses and diagnoses identifying the challenges of gender equality in the field of higher education and research. However, it is not possible to speak of a complete incorporation of the gender perspective and there is a lack of concrete solutions to the challenges.

What are the mechanisms to break the glass ceiling in the field of research? How can higher education institutions contribute to gender equality? What successful experiences are taking place across Europe? How is the gender mainstreaming in higher education being implemented in Spain? These were some of the questions that guided the lectures and debates of this event, seeking to draw up reflections and proposals providing lines of action for gender equality in the field.

The seminar consisted of two sessions. The first, on October 5th, focused on the current situation and the experiences of European transformation. The second, on October 6th, focused on the national higher education system. The series of seminars was inaugurated with the welcoming words and presentation of Margarita León, director of CUIMPB-Centre Ernest Lluch, and Josep M. Vilalta, executive secretary of the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP) and director of the Global University Network for innovation (GUNi).


Dr. Manuela Naldini, Professor of Sociology at the Department of Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin, gave the keynote presentation focusing on data to move towards policy making. She highlighted that we are facing a process of feminization of higher education, where women are more present in higher education studies and are performing better. However, as one progresses through the university career, the gender gap widens. Vertical and horizontal segregation lead to a scissor chart, since women leave more academia after the doctorate and receive fewer positions within the university.

"The request to measure performance and the increased demand for production due to the neoliberal turn affecting academia, as well as many areas of society, is reinforcing gender gaps."

Dr. Naldini argues that without data there are no policies, and the focus must be on changing the system, not women. Moreover, multilevel actions are necessary to face the barriers at all levels and areas that women are in.

The roundtable of European experiences on how to transform university institutions to incorporate the gender perspective featured the voices of Neus Pociello, executive director of the Catalan Institute for Women (Department of Equality of the Government of Catalonia), Jorg Müller, IN3-UOC researcher expert in gender and technology, and Lejla Ramić-Mesihović, professor at the International University of Burch, Bosnia and Herzegovina. They stressed the importance of gender mainstreaming in all public policies and, in particular, the importance of the Welfare State and social services as providers of support and quality of life. Specifically, Ramić-Mesihović highlighted the gender gap with regard to authority and governance positions: although two-thirds of vice-rectorates are held by women, there are no women rectors in Bosnia-Herzegovina, pointing, among other factors, to time poverty affecting women the most.

The second day began with the presentation of the study "Gender wage gap in Spanish public universities" (Ministry of Universities, CRUE, ANECA) by Pilar Carrasquer (Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Equality Coordinator of ANECA). The report highlights the fact that salary gaps tend to occur on the side of salary complements as a reflection of differentiated dedications and biases in the valuation of what is considered meritorious. This study has been extended to all Spanish universities and is expected to create a cascading process that will trigger policies to reverse the situation.


Anna Berga, president of the Women and Science Commission of the Inter-university Council of Catalonia (CIC), presented the state framework for the implementation of gender policies in higher education and research. She highlighted advances in gender mainstreaming in the legislative framework through the promotion of more diverse and egalitarian environments and eradicating discrimination in measures included in the Science Act. However, greater awareness and a change in institutional culture are necessary so that what is advanced by law permeates and is implemented.

"Incorporating the gender perspective is not only a matter of social justice, but also of the quality of university teaching and research."

The day and the seminars concluded with an excellent roundtable on the challenges and actions carried out in Spanish universities from the point of view of research, accreditation of academic staff, teaching and policies of equality units. This roundtable brought together the voices of Gemma Marfany, delegate of the rector for scientific dissemination and member of the Observatory of Bioethics and Law (OBD) of the University of Barcelona; Inés Soler-Julbe, technician of the Observatory of Equality of the University of Valencia; Núria Salán, president of the Catalan Society of Technology and Academic Coordinator of the gender program at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona; María Bustelo, co-director of the Research Group on "Gender and Politics" at the Complutense University of Madrid; and Maria Olivella, coordinator of the UOC's Equality Unit.