Gender Equality Plan: An Explorative Analysis of Italian Academia




gender equality plan, diversity, gender gap, universities, empirical research


Since 2015, the European Union, always sensitive to gender issues, has been recommending and actively supporting the implementation of the Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in academic and research organisations: a set of commitments and actions that aim to promote gender equality through a process of structural change. Moreover, the European Commission recognises GEPs as an eligibility criterion for participation in all Horizon Europe calls for research and innovation. Gender issues in academia are particularly topical in Italy. According to the last Global Gender Gap Report, in terms of economic participation and opportunities, Italy ranks 110th out of a total of 146 states, after several developing countries. In the country, even though women outnumber men among graduate students, a strong inequality in superior grades of the academic careers persists. In compliance with Decree No. 2/2019, and in line with EU-COM No.152/2020, Italian universities are required to adopt a GEP, which identifies the strategy of individual universities for gender equality. Consequently, most Italian universities have implemented their first GEP edition in last two years. Despite the growing attention to gender issues in academia, studies on GEP implementation and content are still scarce. Therefore, this paper aims to explore the implementation of GEPs in Italian universities by responding to the following research question: (RQ1) What is the state of the art about GEPs in Italian universities? Content analysis will be employed to identify to what extent universities have disclosed the information related to their GEPs. The study consists of the analysis of the total population of 67 Italian public universities that have been drafted referring to the period 2019-2025 (except for one GEP drawn up for 2015-2021). Results highlight that most universities easily disclose information on goals, actions, beneficiaries and institutional members and that universities seem to have difficulties in identifying the subjects operationally involved in the plan implementation, the financial resources and the expected results of the policies adopted for each action. This paper is original for two reasons. First, it provides insights into GEPs as a novelty strategic tool. Second, it represents the first empirical study that provides an overview of the GEPs’ structure and contents, with a focus on Italian academia.