Title: Gender equality policies in the Spanish university setting

Dates: 2018-2021

Identification: UNIGUAL Fem2017-86004-R Agencia Estatal de Investigación 10.13039/5011000110033

About the project

Equality policies have been on the agenda of European Democracies for decades. In Spain, laws such as the The Equality Law (3/2007), the University Law (4/2007) and the Science and Innovation (Law 14/2011) have introduced gender equality and the gender perspective into the realm of universities and scientific research. Laws passed by regional governments, and other policy instruments, have further strengthened this legislative framework.

Following this, universities have created Equality Units and developed Equality Plans that aim to promote gender equality and integrate a gender perspective into teaching and research through the adoption and implementation of a wide range of policy measures and actions. Yet to date there have been few studies within the gender and politics field concerned with the design and effective implementation of the measures adopted by universities, despite evidence to suggest the limited impact that they have had.

Filling this research gap, the UNIGUAL project studies the policy measures adopted and implemented by Spanish universities; policy measures adopted to comply with the gender equality legal mandate at the European, national and regional level. The project is principally concerned with the factors that promote and hinder the implementation of gender equality initiatives in different university settings; factors that enable or prevent transformative change in a gender equitable direction. These include the institutionalization of Equality Units, the role of actors, alliances within and outside university, and individual and institutional actors’ resistances towards the implementation of gender equality.


The project has four principal objectives:

1. Study the measures that Spanish universities have adopted in accordance with the legislative framework around equality.

2. Identify the factors that promote or hinder the implementation of equality policies in the universities.

3. Analyse the results of the fieldwork to draw conclusions around facilitating factors and obstacles to the implementation of equality policies in universities. Results will be analysed using theoretical frameworks such as feminist institutionalism and studies around the mainstreaming of gender in public policy and a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

4. Assess, disseminate and make visible the results of the project through our participation in international and national congresses and seminars, the publication of articles as well as the organisation of seminars with university equality institutions and the preparation of a guide for the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming and equality policies in universities.


Using a comparative research method, the UNIGUAL project investigates university gender equality policies in the following institutions:

  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  • Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
  • Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (USC)
  • Universidad del País Vasco (UPV)
  • Universidad Nebrija (UNNE)

The research relies on a multitude of data collection techniques, including:

  • Content analysis of documents (including legislation, Equality Plans and sexual harrassment protocols)
  • Actor-mapping
  • Semi-structured interviews with key informants
  • Focus-groups
  • Surveys