Welcome to the 18th ESPAnet Annual Conference, which is held in Leuven (Belgium), hosted by the Team Social Policy and Social Work of the Faculty of Social Sciences of KU Leuven, one of the world’s oldest (anno 1425) and leading universities. Are our European welfare states up for their future? Will they be able to uphold, and where necessary even extend, the range of social objectives they are known for in the world? Will their social policies succeed in effectively promoting sufficiently high living standards of their citizenry in future? A future that is uncertain given worldwide changes in economic structures and balances, acceleration of technological developments, and substantial environmental challenges. We feel honoured to be able to offer you, as social policy experts, a place to present and discuss your ideas, exchange research findings, get inspiration, and to feel the warm glow of being together with so many people sharing the same professional curiosity. We look forward to seeing you in Leuven in 2020! Conference stream: 25. EducationGender Equality Policies in research and academiaMarta WaratEwa KrzaklewskaPaulina SekułaThe gender inequalities persist in academia and research: while some improvements are visible, new challenges linked to (neo)liberalism, international competitiveness, precarisation of academic profession, corporatization appear. Nevertheless, in recent years, we are witnessing the increased initiative to develop policies and measures at the higher education institutions (HEI) and research performing organizations (RPO). While at policy level there appear a general consensus on the usefulness and adequateness of such measures, their limitedness is being discussed. Are these tools enough to address persisting inequalities? Are they effective in all organizational and cultural contexts?Simultaneously, the international aspect should be taken into account as the EU plays a strong role in encouraging the attainment of gender equality and funding the development and implementation of gender equality measures, particularly through the Horizon project grants. This approach raises several questions, ranging from the potentialities of such support and its impact on institutional change to sensitivity towards regional context and sustainability of project-based measures.We welcome papers that tackle such themes as:Gender equality policies in HEI/RPO: developing, implementing and monitoring gender equality measures, their impact and effectiveness, barriers to implementing gender equality including resistance and strategies of dealing with it, undermining of equality efforts and their subordination to other goals, achieving only “islands” of equality.Innovative solutions in regards to supporting women’s careers, gender balance in leadership or integration of gender dimension in research and teaching.Regional differences in gender equality policies, with special focus on Central and Eastern Europe where the proportion of HEI/RPO with Gender Equality Plans is much lower than the average in the EU.Theoretical and methodological underpinnings of gender equality policies.The role of gender expertise and knowledge transfer in developing gender equality policies.Feminist analysis of gender equality policies in academia and research.International cooperation in relation to gender equality.