The contemporary articulation of the paradigm of excellence is connected with some major shifts in the conception of the university, including an increasingly marketised view of the value of research and education. At the same time, gender equality has also been gaining new relevance as a norm and goal in parallel with transformations in higher education policy that are closely bound up with this newly powerful concept of excellence This introduction considers how excellence and gender equality are combined in policy and in practice, and whether excellence strategies have in fact supported advancing women’s progress in contributing to academic life and accessing its opportunities. It outlines how the chapters contribute to addressing three broad questions: (1) How are excellence and gender equality combined in academia’s contemporary governing discourses? (2) How does gender bias affect the evaluation of excellence? (3) How does the discourse of excellence impact women’s careers?