It will soon be twenty years into the millennium; yet we still need to ask: how does gender matter in Swedish academia and research, in academic careers and organisations, such as universities? Gender equality has been on the agenda of Swedish and Nordic higher education and science policies for at least four decades. In Sweden, the main higher education, research and innovation stakeholders have been actively engaged in numerous gender equality actions since the late 1970s. The Nordic countries are among the most research-intensive and innovative societies, as well as being leading countries globally in overall societal gender equality. When it comes to gender equality in leading positions of universities, research funding organisations and scientific boards, Sweden leads in European comparisons. However, when it comes to gendered patterns in further education, academic careers and academic environments, Sweden does not stand out as a positive exception but rather shares similar patterns of inequality with many other countries. Questions addressed in this session include: what kind of gender challenges do today’s doctoral researchers and academics encounter in their academic environments and careers? How can we create more gender equal and inclusive academic organisations where all talent can thrive and advance? Are excellence and gender equality (in)compatible? And what is the role of university leaders in promoting change towards more equal and inclusive universities and academic careers?