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DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1410-93en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 74-2019 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

D Etura Hernández, V Martín Jiménez, C A Ballesteros Herencia (2019): “The academic community and gender equality: a quantitative study”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, pp. 1781 a 1800,
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1410-93en

The academic community and gender equality: a quantitative study about University of Valladolid

Dunia Etura Hernández [CV] [o ORCID] [ gGS] Profesora Contratada Doctora (Acreditada). Universidad de Valladolid (España) dunia.etura@uva.es

Virginia Martín Jiménez [CV] [ oORCID] [g GS] Profesora Contratado Doctora. Universidad de Valladolid (España) virginia.martin@uva.es

Carlos A. Ballesteros Herencia [CV] [o ORCID]g [ GS] Profesor Contratado Doctor (Acreditado). Universidad de Valladolid (España) cballesteros@hmca.uva.es

[ES] Introducción La educación es uno de los pilares fundamentales en la socialización de las personas, por este motivo esta investigación se centra en estudiar las experiencias, opiniones, y distorsiones de la comunidad universitaria respecto a la igualdad y la violencia de género, con el fin de realizar un análisis diagnóstico que pueda servir para el desarrollo de políticas igualitarias efectivas que mejoren la educación y formación de los estudiantes y el personal de la Institución. Metodología. Para poder llevar a cabo esta investigación innovadora, en la que por primera vez se incluye a la comunidad universitaria en su totalidad: estudiantes, docentes e investigadores y personal de administración y servicios, se diseñó un cuestionario en los que se ahondaba en cuestiones sobre igualdad, consumo y contenidos mediáticos, violencia de género y percepción de las políticas de igualdad. Los datos obtenidos fueron analizados estadísticamente mediante Excel y SPSS. Resultados. La muestra estuvo comprendida por 3.542 miembros de la comunidad universitaria de la Universidad de Valladolid. Las mujeres resultaron estar más sensibilizadas e implicadas. Se detectó que el 50% de los encuestados definía erróneamente la violencia de género y desconocía las políticas de igualdad de la Universidad. La mayoría se mostró a favor de la implicación de la Institución en la educación, formación y sensibilización de la comunidad universitaria en materia de igualdad. Conclusiones. Es necesaria una mayor implicación masculina en la lucha por la igualdad de género. La comunicación de la Institución sobre sus políticas de igualdad debe mejorar para que sean efectivas entre la comunidad universitaria.

[EN] Introduction. Education is one of the main pillars in people’s socialization, which is why this research focuses on studying experiences, opinions and distortions of the academic community in terms of equality and gender violence, with one objective: elaborating a diagnostic analysis to be used for the development of effective equality policies that improve or transform the education and training of students and staff within the Institution. Methodology. To put this innovative research —the first one to include the academic community as a whole: students, teachers and researchers, administration and service staff— into practice, a questionnaire was designed, divided into five areas covering subjects such as equality, consumption and media content, gender violence and perception of equality policies. The data obtained were statistically analyzed with Excel and SPSS. Results. The study comprises a participation total of 3,542 members of the academic community at the University of Valladolid (Spain). The women are more aware and committed. Besides, 50% of participants defined gender violence erroneously and were unaware of the current equality policies of the University. The majority supported a commitment from the Institution in educating, training and raising awareness on equality-related matters among the academic community. Conclusions. A greater male involvement in the struggle for gender equality is necessary. The communication of the Institution on its equality policies must be improved so that they are effective among the university community.

Key words
[ES] universidad, educación, igualdad, violencia de género, información.
[EN] university, education, equality, gender violence, information.

 [ES] 1. Introducción. 1.1. Iguales UVa. 2. Objetivos de investigación. 3. Metodología. 3.1. Diseño y procedimiento. 3.2. Instrumento. 3.3. Muestra. 4.Resultados. 4.1. Percepción de discriminación de género en el ámbito universitario. 4.2. Percepción de discriminación de género en el ámbito laboral. 4.3. Percepción de la violencia de género. 4.4. La implicación de la Universidad en la igualdad. 5. Discusión y conclusiones. 6. Notas. 7. Referencias bibliográficas.
[EN] 1. Introduction. 1.1 Iguales UVa. 2. Objectives and research questions. 3. Methodology. 3.1. Design and procedure 3.2. Instrument. 3.3. Sample. 4. Results. 4.1. Perception of gender discrimination in the academic context. 4.2. Perception of gender discrimination in the workplace. 4.3. Perception of gender violence. 4.4. The involvement of the University in equality. 5. Discussion and conclusions. 6. Notes 7. References.

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1. Introduction

Education —along with family, friendships and media— plays a crucial role in the socialization of people and, therefore, in the promotion of equality and the prevention of the violence that originates in sexism (Ruiz Ruiz and Alario Trigueros, 2010). For this reason, for many years we have been finding both at national level —in Chapter 1 of the Organic Law against Gender Violence and in articles 23, 24 and, more specifically, article 25, which covers Higher Education, of the Organic Law for the effective equality of women and men— and international level —in the strategies that were established in the Beijing Declaration approved at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and in the goals of the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe which Spain adopted in 2014—, various legislative, educational and awareness initiatives for educators and students, which raise the need to introduce gender perspective transversely in the education system as an essential instrument for achieving equality and the elimination of gender violence.

In the past few years in the academic context, object of study of this research, there has been progress primarily due to the proliferation of gender studies emerging from all areas of knowledge, the organization of congresses and academic meetings that allow to transfer knowledge on the advances in the subject, the transversal inclusion of gender perspective in the courses taught in universities by sensitized teachers and the training of University Departments, High Schools, Research Groups, etc. —integrated in the University Platform for Feminist and Gender Studies (EUFEM)— that, fostered by the academic system, observe the struggle for equality in their work environment as a social obligation (Bernárdez Rodal, 2017).

Besides, from the approval of the Organic Law 4/2007, the creation of an Equality Unit in each one of the Spanish universities became mandatory, whose fundamental goal was "the development of the functions related to the principle of equality between women and men,” specified in the elaboration of equality plans that made an initial diagnosis of the academic institutions and anticipated the necessary actions to advance towards an egalitarian environment.

However, several studies (Pastor Gosalbez and Acosta Sarmiento, 2016; López Bonilla, Martínez Torres and Díaz Fernández, 2014; De los Cobos Arteaga, 2012) demonstrate that we can still find evident gender biases in the academic environment, which is the reflection of an inegalitarian society. Perhaps for this reason, on March 8, 2018, the Conference of Rectors of Universities (CRUE), published a statement in which they admitted the existing inequality in the academic context, and affirmed the "restored commitment" of academic governments to turn universities into "promoters of social justice and integrate gender perspective transversally in all areas of management, teaching and research."

The fact that —as the aforementioned text of the CRUE states— the University is a creator and promoter of culture is a decisive matter that must make the academic governing bodies and the academic community as a whole, reflect on the acquisition of critical sense, not only to generate an egalitarian culture, but also at the time of consuming it by detecting stereotypes that perpetuate gender inequality and possessing the necessary faculties to dismantle them (Martín Jiménez and Etura, 2016).

It is unquestionable that the solution to this reality comes with the implementation —which should not just depend on the good will of the teacher— of gender perspective in the study plans as the GENET Association states in its report published in 2015. But if we take into account that university students spend most of their time that they are outside the classroom watching television, interacting on the Internet and using other electronic devices —habits placed behind interpersonal relationships with their partner, family and friends— (Díaz-Aguado, 2013), that is, their lives are immersed in a technological environment where media content is ubiquitous since they are very young (Sanz Arazuri, Alonso Suiz, Sáenz de Jubera Ocón, Ponce de León Elizondo and Valdemoros San Emeterio, 2018) and consume it in an unprecedented way until now (Etura Hernández, Gutiérrez-Sanz and Martín Jiménez, 2017), the following should come with no surprise: the importance of providing the academic community with a gender-based media literacy that will provide a critical sense to prosumers and produsers, capable of designing a personalized program (Alonso, Broullón-Lozano, Lamuedra-Graván, 2016: 189-191), as well as offering the possibility of interacting with the creators of the product and exposing the perception that social media has about it (Cebrián Herreros, 2008), thus becoming a key piece for the creation, distribution and consumption of egalitarian culture (s).

In turn, the Conference of Rectors exposed the commitment of the University to "respond to the demands in the field of social responsibility." In this way, it undoubtedly becomes an obligation to elaborate research work such as this, The academic community and gender equality, with which we intend to make a diagnostic analysis that allows, for the first time, to know the experiences, conceptions and distortions of the academic community as a whole in matters of equality and gender violence. For this reason, with the support of the Rector of the University of Valladolid, the IgualesUVa campaign was launched, which was organized around various objectives which aimed to raise awareness, inform, educate and call the academic community to action.

1.1. .IgualesUVa

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Teaching Innovation Project "Education on Gender Equality and Inclusion (PID-ENIG)," funded by the University of Valladolid, started a pioneering statistical research in the academic context, since for the first time in Spain the object of study, to which the survey was addressed, included the whole academic community of the different UVA campuses throughout Castile and León (Valladolid, Palencia, Segovia and Soria).

Beforehand, aware that surveys generate little interest, almost rejection, we decided to design the campaign #SinMediasTintas-IgualesUVa on the occasion of November 25, the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women", when we intended to make everyone reflect on the position that society holds against gender violence. We started out from the idea that by assuming certain gender biases as true and immutable, as a society we are unable to bluntly take a stance on these ideas, attitudes and facts, which are forms of sexist violence. That is why half-measures were rejected, and clear and blunt commitment was encouraged.

The campaign revolved around a series of structured actions and had a threefold nature: traditional, with physical advertising elements such as posters, and technological, which included the development of a website http://iguales.uva.es, which informed about the campaign, the equality policies of the University and the objectives of the study were informed and, finally, the survey, the instrument of the study, which users were invited to participate in through the elements that were part of the action.
Initially, all the Faculties of the four UVa Campuses had posters showing phrases based on the prejudices and distortions about women and the violence which most of society coexists with in a standardized way. To do so, posters with flashy colors and typographies were designed to expose those ideas taken out of context, together with a striking design, and attract the attention of the academic community and give way to a reflection on the normalization of these concepts. One of the fundamental characteristics of these posters is that the authorship of the sponsor was hidden, this was just an ink stain reading “mójate” —get involved, in Spanish—, intended to generate great expectation, keeping the audience alert, to determine what it was about and who was behind the campaign (see image 1).

Image 1. Posters 1st phase of campaign.

Once the expectation campaign ended, in a new round of posters, the authorship of the campaign was revealed. In order to provide the message with homogeneity, we acted over the posters displayed during the expectation campaign, responding in this way, and without a doubt, to the expectation raised among the members of the academic community (see image 2).

In addition, a press conference was organized. There, the website was introduced and the reason for carrying out the study and the importance it had for the academic community was explained. Both the presentation of the campaign and the publication of the first results of the study had an important impact on both regional and national media —press, radio and television—.

Image 2. Posters 2nd phase of campaign.

Once the campaign was completed, the quantitative research was set up with an online questionnaire that only the members of the academic community of the UVa could access. The results are detailed in section 4 of this research.

Prior studies among the academic members of the UVa, limited to the students of the Degree in Journalism, showed that being a woman and having completed a higher number of credits in the degree were variables associated with a greater sensitivity when detecting male chauvinistic messages in media (Martín Jiménez, Ballesteros Herencia and Etura Hernández, 2016). Besides, female Journalism students gave greater importance to gender when referring to their professional future and felt more concerned about gender violence than their male colleagues (Martín Jiménez, Etura Hernández and Ballesteros Herencia, 2016). Both male and female participants detected gender-biased messages on social media and television, but not on the radio.

2. Objectives and research questions

As a general objective, we raised the need to know the opinion of the members of the academic community concerning issues of equality and gender violence based on their characteristics such as sex, their branch of study, their connection to the university as students, teachers, researchers or administration and services staff, the campus they belong to, etc.

Based on this general objective, a series of sub-objectives are proposed that
were outlined as follows:

  • Knowing the perception of equality in the academic context by its members.

  • Determining the perceptions and distortions regarding gender violence and equality in the academic context.

  • Analyzing the relation between media consumption and the creation of cultural constructions around sexist discrimination and gender violence.

  • Checking the perception of the academic community about the involvement of the University of Valladolid in terms of gender equality.

In addition to achieving the objectives outlined above, the ultimate objective of this research was to achieve an effective instrument, based on the diagnosis of the opinions, knowledge and omissions of the academic community, often ignored, that would serve the Institution to define a strategy in Equality policies that is focused on the reality manifested by the members that are part of the University.

3. Methodology

In order to achieve the objectives stated above, a questionnaire was designed for the students, researchers, professors and administration and services staff of the University of Valladolid, one that would allow investigating problems in very realistic contextual frameworks and that would also bring us the possibility of studying a large number of variables (Wimmer and Dominick, 1996: 113).

3.1. Design and procedure

In this way, all the members of the academic community of the University of Valladolid received an email in their institutional mail service in which they were called or invited to participate in the study through a link in which the questionnaire could be completed. Once the survey was completed, the respondent would not have the possibility to enter the study again, thus preventing a single member of the academic community from responding more than once. Thus, a non-probabilistic sampling process was carried out, where the survey was completed anonymously, self-administered and voluntarily. This voluntary nature, which excludes making inferences to the total academic community, corresponded to the objectives of this research when it comes to knowing the degree of knowledge and awareness of the different collectives and groups on the issues under study.

The data we obtained was analyzed statistically using Excel and SPSS, measuring the significance of the association between the analyzed variables through the statistical tests indicated for each case (chi-square, correlations, phi, etc.).

3.2. Instrument

Regarding the instrument of the research, a questionnaire was designed consisting of 27 questions, which included 34 variables, divided into 5 thematic blocks. The first 4 questions (variables 1 to 4) make reference to the respondent's affiliation. Subjects included between questions 5 and 12 (variables 5 to 12) address issues of equality. Questions 13 to 16 (variables 13 to 23) raise questions about the relationship between media consumption and sexist and misogynistic content, as well as the importance of the role of media in the socialization of people. Gender violence is addressed from question 17 to question 25 (variables 24 to 32) and the actions of the University concerning equality in questions 15, 26 and 27 (variables 22, 33 and 34).

3.3. Sample

The components of the academic community of the UVa were classified into three possible categories: students, teachers and researchers (PDI) and administration and services staff (PAS). Out of the total of 26,120 members of the UVa according to the 2015-16 academic year data, 3,542 responded to the survey, which represented 13.56%, thus exposing large variations of participation depending on the collective. Therefore, 11.27% of the students participated (n=2,569 students), 24.69% of the professors (n=489) and 29.59% of the PAS (n=300).

In addition, women were more active at the time of completing the survey as they accounted for 63.4% of the sample (N=2,247), when their weight in the academic community of the UVa is 53.43%. On the other hand, the 1,295 men who responded represented 36.6% of respondents, when they actually represent 46.57% of the members of the UVa. Therefore, there was a ratio of 1.74 women who participated for each man who took part in the survey, higher than the ratio of 1.15 in the UVa (see data in Chart 1).

Chart 1. Participation according to sex.


Source: own elaboration

Chart 2. Participation according to branch of study.


Source: own elaboration

According to the level of education they were in, the most interested in doing the survey were the Master’s Degree students, since 15.78% of them answered (n=169), followed by the Bachelor’s Degree students (11.43%, n=2,286), while doctoral students were the least inclined (6.44%, n=111).

The distribution of participants according to the branches of study also showed differences. From the maximum 24.28% of participation between Arts and Humanities students, to a minimum of 9.74% among Social and Legal Sciences (see data in Chart 2).

4. Results

Next, the main results of the study are shown, focusing on the different responses offered by women and men in each case, thus opting for the gender variable that will allow us to deepen more into the cultural and educational background of the final results.

Profile of respondents by sex

As indicated in the description of the sample, women answered the survey in a greater proportion than the one they hold within the University of Valladolid, ten percentage points higher, so we proceeded to analyze the different response ratios according to this gender variable.

The type of role within the UVA revealed statistically significant differences according to the sex of the respondents (χ2(3)=34,998, phi=0.101, p<0.001). Thus, the men who participated the least in the survey were students, calculating a ratio of 1.65 women students for each male student who took the survey (see data in Chart 3). In contrast, the most balanced ratio happened between the administration and services staff (1.19), and an intermediate value for professors and researchers (1.43). As for the students, this imbalance was more pronounced among those who were undergraduates (1.76 women for every man), than among doctoral students (1.53) or Master’s (1.37). However, in this case the differences were not statistically significant, but trend-oriented (χ2(2) =5,469, phi=0.046, p<0.1).

The branch of study also showed significant differences according to the sex of the respondents (χ2(4)=262.074, phi=0.320, p<0.001). Arts and Humanities students were the ones who showed a higher rate of participation, as 29.7% of enrolled students did it, compared to 15.3% of male students (see data in figure 4), while the Social and Legal Sciences female students were the ones who participated the least (11.7%), as well as their male classmates (6.6%).

Chart 3. Participation according to role in the UVa and sex.

Source: own elaboration

Chart 4. Participation according to branch of study and sex.

Source: own elaboration


4.1. Perception of gender discrimination in the academic context

More than three times as many women belonging to the academic community of the UVa claimed they had felt discriminated against based on gender than their male colleagues, figures that were statistically significant (χ2(3)=266.225, p<0.001). While only 1.7% of men said they felt discriminated against based on gender, 5.4% of women maintained a similar argument. In order to delve into these results, the data were disaggregated by collective of belonging, hence detecting that female teachers and researchers were the ones who had felt discriminated against the most, while female students and the PAS were the least. These differences again turned significant for the four groups with results lower than 0.001. While no male researcher or PAS (0.0%), and only 2 of 217 male teachers (0.9%), claimed they had felt discriminated against, 2.2% of male students did. In addition, female students are the ones who have felt less discriminated against along with their fellow PAS (see data in Chart 5).

Chart 5. I have been discriminated against because of my gender.

Source: own elaboration

In addition, they claimed to have witnessed cases of gender discrimination within the university in a significantly different way, statistically (χ2(3)=43,754, p<0.001): 7.1% of women claimed they had witnessed this type of case, compared to a lower 4.7% of men. Therefore, it was decided to go further, disaggregating these results by group, resulting in significant differences for all groups except for researchers, whom again showed —as in the previous variable— a trend similar to that of the teachers. As shown in figure 6, female teachers and researchers were the ones who claimed to have witnessed cases of discrimination, while their male colleagues were placed in percentages similar to those of students and PAS.

Women perceived gender bias in both their female and male colleagues to a higher degree than men, obtaining statistically significant differences in both cases. Thus, 19.4% of women compared to 14.4% of men consider their male colleagues to be gender-biased, while 12.4% of women and 9.9% of men deemed their female colleagues to be gender-biased. When disaggregated by collectives, opinions on this issue of men and women, both PAS and researchers were statistically similar in both questions. In contrast, the opinions of teachers and students showed significant differences between men and women in both questions

Chart 6. I have witnessed gender discrimination.

Source: own elaboration

.In this way, 30.2% of female teachers affirmed that their colleagues were gender-biased, while only 11.6% of the male teachers shared that opinion. Among female students, they were 18.2% compared to 15.5% of men. At the same time, 15.7% of female teachers compared to 7.9% of male teachers considered that their female colleagues were sexist, as well as 13.0% of female students compared to 7.9% of male students.

4.1. Perception of gender discrimination in the workplace

One of the pieces of data where we found greater imbalance between men and women was in their fear of work discrimination due to gender issues, detecting significant differences (χ2(3)=803.916, p<0.001): while 5.8% of men showed this fear, seven times more women claimed it, 41.3% of the total.

When the results were disaggregated by collective, the statistical differences remained at a significant level of p<0.001 in the four groups.

In this case, it was the female researchers and students who showed a much higher fear, about half of them, of suffering labor discrimination based on gender, while a little less than a fifth of female teachers (19.2%) and a bit below one tenth (9.2%) of PAS claimed they had felt it. Male students stood out three times as much (7.4%) as the rest of the groups (2.5%), as they felt that they could be subject to discrimination at work due to their condition as men (See data in Chart 8).

We attempted to delve further in this direction through two additional questions. In the first case, respondents were asked to rate from 1 to 10, 1 being nothing and 10 totally, to what extent their status as men or women could positively influence their career, detecting significant differences (Mann-Whitney U=1,070,235, p<0.001). The average value of female response was 4.61 (DT=2,706) while that of men was 3.98 (SD=2,801).

Chart 7. I am afraid of suffering gender discrimination in the workplace.

Source: own elaboration

Gráfico 8. I am afraid of suffering gender discrimination in the workplace.

Source: own elaboration

In addition, respondents also rated from 1 to 10 to what extent their status as men or women could negatively influence their career, again obtaining statistically significant differences (Mann-Whitney U=1,070.235, p<0.001). Women also reported a possibly higher negative influence on their career (M=5.05, SD=2.68) than men did (M=2.68, SD=2.202).

Therefore, these two questions showed that women feel that their gender is a variable capable of providing a greater influence, both positive and negative, than the estimation made by men, lower in both cases.

In this case, the results were also disaggregated by collective, finding significant differences through the Mann-Whitney U test [1], regarding the positive influence of gender in their professional career, men and women belonging to the groups of teachers and students, as well as similar opinions between men and women researchers and PAS. While female teachers gave an average positive influence of 2.41 (SD=2,595) on their career, male teachers only valued it with a 2.86 (SD=2,571). Female students gave a 4.98 (SD=2,621) compared to the lower 4.45 (SD=2,767) of their male colleagues.

In the case of negative influence, significant differences were detected between men and women in the four collectives studied. In the first place, female teachers rated it with 4.56 (SD=2.834), compared to the lower 2.13 (SD=2.018) of male teachers. Similarly, female students gave an average negative influence of 5.31 (SD=2,690), compared to 2.91 (SD=2,265) of male students. In this case, the female PAS also felt a greater negative influence (M=3.44, SD=2.760), than the male personnel (M=3.44, SD=2.08). Lastly, female researchers were the group that showed the greatest negative influence (M=5.02, SD=2,888), while male researchers stayed at 2.71 (SD=2.012).

4.3. Perception of gender violence

Another set of variables asked about the conception of gender violence, detecting, first, that men and women are inclined to different definitions about that matter (χ2(4)=56.051, phi=0.135, p<0.001). While women define it mainly (49.3%) as "sexual, physical or psychological violence that is exerted over a woman", men choose (41.40%) the following, "the violence exerted by one of the members of the couple over another” (see data in Chart 9).

Chart 9. What is, in your opinion, gender violence?

Source: own elaboration

Secondly, a greater lack of agreement could be observed among women with the statement "The public concern generated by gender violence is excessive," detecting statistically significant differences (χ2(3)=151,557, phi=0,222, p<0.001). While 60.7% of women strongly disagreed with this statement, "only" 39% of men did so. In addition, 9.6% of women said they agreed or strongly agreed, compared to 20.4% of men (see data in Chart 10).

Chart 10. “The public concern generated by gender violence is excessive”.

Source: own elaboration

In this sense, men and women also showed a statistically different degree of concern (χ2(3)=215.258, phi=0.265, p<0.001) regarding gender violence. While 65.1% of women showed a maximum degree of concern, only 40% of men did, among whom 12.5% showed little or no concern, compared to 3.4% of women (see data in Chart 11).

Chart 11. “I am seriously worried about gender violence”.             

Source: own elaboration

Finally, the study delved into the causes that members of the academic community relate to gender violence. In the first place, a minority (14.9%) associated it with the low educational level of women. Men were more inclined (χ2(3)=81.50, phi=0.163, p<0.001) to associate it with this cause, since 21.5% chose this, in comparison with 11.3% of women.

Secondly, a majority of respondents (66.9%) related it with everyday inequality, detecting again significant differences between the opinions of men and women (χ2(3) =132.012, phi=0.207, p<0.001), as while 54.7% of men associated both phenomena, 72.9% of women did so.

Lastly, the confidence of each respondent on the fact that they would never be a victim of gender violence was studied, showing significant differences between men and women (χ2(1) =158.350, phi=-0.227, p<0.001). While just 24.3% of women have this certainty, the figure in men amounts to 46.4%.

4.4. The involvement of the University in equality

Even though the data obtained in the study show a significant lack of knowledge by the academic community about the policies implemented by the University of Valladolid on equality, 38.22% said they did not know about any action or protocol of the UVa on Equality and/or Gender Violence, only 22.24% of respondents knew about the UVa protocol of prevention and action against sexual harassment and harassment based on sex, 29% knew about the equality plan of the University, a number that increases up to 46.75% if we talk about some of the awareness campaigns launched by the University around commemorative dates such as November 25 or March 8. 91% of respondents were in favor of the Institution getting involved in education and awareness-raising so that the academic community acquires competences in gender equality matters.

This fact coincides with the data obtained in the variable that questioned the academic community about the influence of higher education towards an egalitarian society (see Chart 12). In this question, respondents were asked to rate the statement from 1 to 10. Once again, women gave a higher influence to education in comparison with men, although both far exceeded the threshold of 5, men reaching almost 7 and women passing 7.5.

Chart 12. “Influence of higher education towards an egalitarian society”.

Source: own elaboration

This data seems worth mentioning since the academic community gives a decisive value to educational institutions in the creation of an egalitarian society. A value that increases in the case of media to which both sexes give more than one point over the influence exerted by education (see Chart 13), making media literacy with a gender perspective an essential training element in all educational cycles for the achievement of real equality.

Chart 13. “Influence of media towards an egalitarian society”

Source: own elaboration

In this regard, around three quarters of the academic community detected gender-biased content in three media: advertising (75.6% of respondents), television (73.5%) and social networks (71.2%). Less than half of the respondents claimed they had found gender-biased messages in traditional press (49.4%), digital press (47%) and WhatssApp (40.8%). Finally, only 32.5% claimed to have found gender bias in radio messages (see Chart 14).

Chart 14. “Detection of gender-biased contents in media”


Source: own elaboration

The different collectives of the University of Valladolid detected sexist contents in a differentiated way in four of the six media types or formats they were asked about, namely radio, digital press, social media and television. Researchers were the most critical group towards media, as on average 65.1% of them said they had found sexist messages, compared with 56.3% of students, 54.4% of teachers and 51.0% of PAS. In this way, statistically significant differences were found in the opinions about radio messages (p<0.05), because while only one third of students, teachers and PAS found sexism in this medium, more than half of the researchers had found it. Differences were also found in the digital press (p<0.01), where 63.6% of researchers found chauvinism, while the other collectives stood between 40 and 47%. In social media, these differences (p<0.001) were due to the high number of researchers and students, more than 76%, who found chauvinism, 20 points more than teachers (55.6%) and PAS (53.6%). Finally, on television, a similar percentage of students (74.05%) and professors (73.2%) found sexist messages, in comparison the highest, 83.1% of researchers, and the lowest, 66.8% of PAS.

On WhatsApp and Advertising, the four collectives declared in statistically equivalent ways, while compared to the traditional press these were just trend differences (p<0.1) (see data in Table 1).

Table 1. “Detection of gender-biased contents according to connection with the University”



















Prensa digital**






Prensa tradicional+






Redes sociales***
























Note: +p<0,1, *p<0,05, **p<0,01, ***p<0,001. Source: Own elaboration.

Chart 15. “I agree or strongly agree with equality between women and men”

Source: own elaboration

In addition, a significant association was detected (p<0.001) between the belief in equality between men and women and both the age and type of collective. Thus, the ANOVA test showed a higher degree of agreement with gender equality among the older UVa members. Those who were strongly in agreement with equality averaged 29.6 years, very in agreement 26.8 years, little in agreement 24.8 years and nothing in agreement, 25.96. At the same time, the teachers were the ones who felt most identified with this affirmation, and students who felt the least identified, although always with percentages over 90% (see data in Chart 15). On the other hand, the branch of knowledge of teachers and students did not show statistically significant differences regarding the belief in gender equality.

5. Discussion and conclusions

The results of this research —which, for the first time, surveys the totality of the academic community about gender equality in order to define a diagnostic analysis that allows the Institution to design effective strategies in the education of students, faculty members and administration and services personnel on equality issues— have shown that, once again, and in spite of the institutions' efforts to involve men in the issues that have to do with gender equality —see the UN campaign "He for She" (2014) or one of the fundamental objectives of the aforementioned Istanbul Convention—, these issues seem to be a subject of concern to a much greater extent for women. The descriptive and inferential analysis of the statistical data shows that a much greater number of women have participated in the study than their male colleagues, which may indicate that they do not feel addressed in this issue, even though they are part of the origin and the solution of the problem as members of society. Undoubtedly, gender equality negatively affects women who suffer from wage discrimination, glass ceiling and double shifts among other inequalities, or a serious fear of being discriminated against in the workplace due to their condition as women, as this research states. This reality can explain a greater awareness of them, concern, detection and, therefore, action. In this way, that would explain that, as we have observed in the results of this study, although machismo is not exclusive of men, they do not perceive, or do so in the smallest way, gender-biased behaviors of their female and male peers, that is, their ability to detect attitudes of inequality, is much lower than that of their peers. Facing such a reality, it is possible to think that, until the need for the participation of the 100% of our society in the detection and search for solutions is established as indispensable, the achievement of a truly egalitarian and democratic society will be very difficult.

In addition, it seems appropriate to note that the collective that participated the least, in comparison with their peers, were the students. This warns us that, apparently, young people either do not perceive the gender inequality that exists in society or they do not accept the negative influence of this reality taking into account the effects it causes. All this even when some studies are warning that stereotypes, inequities and discrimination persist among the youth, which maintain the roles and ideologies that perpetuate inequality to the detriment of women (Centro Reina Sofía sobre Adolescencia y Juventud, 2015), that a significant number of young people —between 15 and 29 years old— are tolerant of control mechanisms exerted in relationships (Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, 2015) and that this violence is exerted in technological contexts more often, which Donoso Vázquez, Rubio Hurtado, and Vilà Baños (2018) call "gender violence 2.0". Therefore, it is worth reflecting on the urgency that education at all levels needs to provide young people with a gender perspective that allows them to discern behaviors and attitudes that foster inequality and that are the root cause of violence against women in all contexts, beyond physical or sexual violence.

This leads us to consider the need to invest pedagogical efforts to effectively transfer the concept of gender violence, its origin, its symptoms and its consequences at a personal and social level. The fact that more than half of the respondents did not know how to correctly define what gender violence is makes us reconsider the need to change the way of transferring this reality to society, especially if we take into account that Spain is one of the pioneering countries in the world to approve a specific law against this type of violence and where media report on sexist violence on a regular basis. Either by the steps back that have been taken in terms of equality in our country and those that the UN warned about in 2015, either by the contents openly against feminist policies which many media outlets amplify that may cause misinformation, the fact is that 14 years after the approval of the Comprehensive Law against Gender Violence in our country it is still not clear what gender violence is, and it seems difficult to work to eliminate something that is unclear.

On the other hand, from among all the branches of knowledge, the students who responded the least to the study —both male and female, even though here we also found a substantial difference of more than 5 percentage points— were the students of Social and Legal Sciences. This fact looks significant if we take into account the Degrees that are assigned to this area of knowledge and that prepare young people to pursue jobs that are decisive in the transformation of a more egalitarian society such as teachers, communications professionals, lawyers, specialists in social work, in labor relations, etc.

In addition, this study about the whole academic community of the University of Valladolid corroborated previous results that were restricted to the specific area of the Degree in Journalism, such as the higher sensitivity of women towards all types of misogynistic attitudes, as well as the greater importance they give to gender issues concerning their professional future (Martín Jiménez, Ballesteros Herencia and Etura Hernández, 2016; Martín Jiménez, Etura Hernández and Ballesteros Herencia, 2016).

In conclusion, it seems necessary for the University to analyze its equality policies in terms of effectiveness and communication when transferring them to the academic community. It seems evident that it is of little use to implement protocols and actions that allow working to live in a more egalitarian environment if the people to whom they are addressed are unaware of them or perceive that their validity is limited or null. More so if we take into account that it is the academic community itself whom should demand the Institution to assimilate the social and educational responsibility that it is responsible for in the first place, to provide an effective education that involves all areas of the academic community: research, teaching and management, turning the fight for equality into a strategic priority that allows the University to achieve the excellence it has always assigned to itself.

*Funded research
This article is the result of the Teaching Innovation Project "Education on Gender Equality and Inclusion" (PID-ENIG), funded by the University of Valladolid (UVa_España).

-Beginning of research: November, 2017
-End of research: November, 2018

6. Note

[1] We decided to calculate the Mann-Whitney U instead of the Student's t-test after verifying the non-normality of the dependent variables considered and the existence of unequal variances.

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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

D Etura Hernández, V Martín Jiménez, C A Ballesteros Herencia (2019): “The academic community and gender equality: a quantitative study”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, pp. 1781 a 1800,
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1410-93en


Paper received on 21 June. Accepted on 28 September.
Published on 11 November.