M. García Lastra, B. Díaz Díaz

University of Cantabria (SPAIN)
The relationship between women and university began in Spain little more than a century ago, the moment in which the first female students enrolled on university courses- women who decided to break with the taboos of their era and to accede to this education level.
Although the spectacular advance in the incorporation of women to teaching and research in universities, horizontal segregation (differences according to areas of knowledge) and vertical segregation (access to positions of responsibility) continue to exist. Thus, the legislation that has been developed in recent years in Spain, as well as the obligation to create Equality Plans, makes it necessary, on the one hand, to demonstrate and unmask the possible differences between women and men in the workplace, and on the other hand, take measures for reducing it.
To understand the extent of the effect that the establishment of these types of measures has had, it is necessary to cast our eyes back. Hence, in this paper we present a historical review of the presence of women in the Spanish university sphere, and the case of the measures taken by one specific university (the University of Cantabria) in the wake of this principle. We consider that in order to recognise the wide reaching effect of the arrival of these kinds of actions, it is necessary to know the important process of change undergone in the higher education of women in the last one hundred years.
In a global and competitive world such as the one we live in, special emphasis must be given to innovatory business management practices that produce an appropriate working environment and which ensure that professional development is not hindered for reasons of gender. Indeed, the businesses that are implanting these practices are in general valued greater both by their workers and their clients and society. Universities must not be detached from social and business evolution. The first step has been taken with the creation of Equality Plans by some Spanish Universities, but the coming years will be vital in order to assess the true commitment of institutions to equality, as we will be able to verify the extent of fulfillment of the actions contemplated by the Plan.