Resilience and Gender-Structural Change in Universities: How Bottom-Up Approaches Can Leverage Transformation When Top-Level Management Support Fails


  • María Bustelo Complutense University of Madrid



gender structural change, gender equality plans, gender equality in academia & research, European research projects, Spanish Universities


This article is a reflection on my involvement in SUPERA (2018–2022), a project funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020, that aims at fostering institutional and structural change in academic and research institutions for integrating gender equality through the implementation of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs). For that, I take on my experience at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), which was both European coordinator and implementing partner in the consortium, during a period marked by global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the six SUPERA implementing institutions also faced local and national institutional changes of different kinds and natures, obliging, both for each partner and for the consortium, an adaptation and revision of strategies and former plans, whilst also resulting in a rich mutual learning experience. Presenting the theoretical bases of the European Structural Change Approach first, I analyse the different situations in which Higher Education and research related institutions participate as implementing partners in European structural change projects, which have  been funded by the European Commission under specific calls since the 7th Framework Research Program. I reflect on the different responses given by the project Consortium and teams, and, in the third part of the article, focus on the UCM experience, and more concretely on the changing dynamics of top-management support and bottom-up strategies during the project. Therefore, I use the case of the SUPERA for illustrating and comparing different forms of institutional commitment to gender-related structural change and transformation, and the UCM for exploring the dynamics between top-level support and bottom-up approaches, arguing that these should be balanced and mutually supportive, and highlighting how one or the other might act as a substituting force in the absence of the other.


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2023-12-12 — Updated on 2023-12-20


How to Cite

Bustelo, M. (2023). Resilience and Gender-Structural Change in Universities: How Bottom-Up Approaches Can Leverage Transformation When Top-Level Management Support Fails. Sociologica, 17(2), 17–36.