Even though increasing attention has been given to improving gender equality, research still shows a pronounced under representation of women in higher education. Despite progress over the last few decades, women tend to “disappear” as we progress from lower to higher levels in scientific careers, creating a “leaky pipeline.”

Gender equality is important as it contributes to diversity, excellence and quality of the work results, especially because of the increased responsiveness it brings to social and societal challenges that are a shared responsibility between women and men. Making use of all talents and creating equal opportunities for men and women is not only a matter of fairness, but it is also an issue of economic efficiency. Embracing gender equality will contribute to competitiveness, growth and job creation – not only for HEIs and companies, but also for the broader European market.

While based on research and experience of P2 (IEDC), increasingly more HEIs have designed and accepted Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) or similar strategic documents, there is still a large issue of ability and capacity for implementation of such plans which leads to a situation of status quo and no significant progress toward reduction of gender inequalities. Accreditation institutions are in a unique position to help HEIs address the gender gap by supporting quality and quality assurance practices. However, based on previous research done by P1 (CEEMAN) and P2 (IEDC), as well as experience of P3, P4, and P5 when undergoing accreditation, there is an issue of accreditations to “move beyond numbers.” This leads to a failure to understand the issues of culture, intersectionality, tradition, daily practices, religion and various nuances of gender equality.

Lack of understanding of particular contexts and complexities is exacerbated by the fact that the schools and their staff are not sufficiently trained and equipped to tackle the gender issues and implement even existing gender equality plans. Our challenge is to reduce the gap in higher education – management and business schools particularly and contribute to a higher level of broadly equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men by means of sustainable cultural and institutional change