College presidents take aim at the gender gap

Boston Globe
By Jon Chesto
March 21, 2019

Getting a group like this together isn’t easy. So you know when someone pulls it off, the goal must be ambitious.

Presidents and other top leaders from roughly 40 colleges and universities across Massachusetts huddled high above Boston on Thursday to brainstorm ways to address a tough issue: gender parity among their ranks.

Higher education has often been seen as one of the more inclusive sectors of the economy, a field in which women can run the show.

Maybe not. The genesis for the forum: an Eos Foundation-funded report issued last fall that showed women held only 31 percent of college and university presidencies in the state.

Sure, that’s better than the figures for top leadership positions in venture capital (8 percent) and life sciences (4 percent), two other industries cited in the report. But it’s still nothing to brag about.

Emerson College’s president, Lee Pelton, cohosted the event, held at the UMass Club, alongside Eos president Andrea Silbert. Pelton was alarmed by the stats in the report. Something big needed to be done: He sent out invites to the presidents of every Massachusetts college and university, public and private, for an event that could jump-start the conversation.

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