Since the surveys started, one of the factors we analyse is the impact of gender on the quality of employment. It is worth noting that in this short space of time, three years after graduation, the results show no significant differences.
It is for this reason that in 2008, in collaboration with the Catalan Women's Institute, we carried out a specific study to find out the impact of gender on men and women who had taken the same degree three years after graduation. On this occasion we also did not find significant differences, and it was the degree studied that explained the quality of employment.
In 2011, also with the support of the Catalan Women's Institute, and continuing with the same graduation class, we studied whether gender had an impact on the quality of employment ten years after graduation. While the conclusion was the same as after three years, in this study indicators began to emerge that showed a systematic trend favourable to men, such as in people who held positions of responsibility or who had been promoted. In this study a certain segregation of the labour market was also detected; specifically, there was a greater presence of women in areas of economic activity that facilitate work-family life balance, such as the education sector.
Not satisfied with the results, because we were surprised not to find phenomena such as the pay gap or the glass ceiling, we set ourselves the challenge of surveying the same graduation class twenty years after graduating.
The report Women’s Employment Outcomes Twenty Years after Finishing University is a pioneering study, carried out with the support of the Catalan Women's Institute and the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia and the collaboration of the Catalan public universities, which helps us to advance in knowledge of how and when inequalities such as the gender wage gap and the glass ceiling occur in the university community.
The findings show that higher education becomes a mechanism of equality, as it reduces the gender gap in employment.
But at the same time it shows the negative impact on careers of the unequal distribution of family care that takes place when graduates have children, an impact that is evident in a reduction in salary or in the reduction of the chances of reaching positions of responsibility.
The study, which was undertaken with the advice of Dr Luis Ortiz Gervasi, from the Department of Political and Social Sciences at Pompeu Fabra University, Dr Mary Nash, from the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Barcelona, and Dr Helena Troiano Gomà, from the Department of Sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, whom we thank for her contribution, proposes a set of final recommendations. These recommendations range from positive affirmation measures, in order to correct gender discrimination, to measures to change the values that underpin the cultural heritage of our societies, where male roles are assumed, tending to achieve maximum career success, and female roles, tending towards care of the family.
Gender equality is a challenge that is on the public agenda. And, only from a deep knowledge of its causes, will we be able to contribute to education within families, schools, companies and institutions, and guide public policies so that it becomes a reality.
I congratulate the entire AQU Catalunya team for the work done, and I encourage you, the reader, to read the report, share it and, from your position, to help achieve change.