In the past 50 years, significant progress in women’s equality has been made worldwide. Western countries, particularly European countries, have implemented initiatives to attain a more gender-balanced workforce with the introduction of family friendly policies, by trying to narrow the gender pay gap and by promoting women’s career progression. In academia, however, fewer women reach top leadership positions than those in the political arena. These findings suggest that academia needs to carefully evaluate why these new policies have not been very effective. In this NeuroView, we report on the progress made in higher education, the shortcomings, and how new initiatives hold great promise for improving gender equality in academia around the globe.