Editorial: A chance to diversify college leadership

Boston Business Journal

Massachusetts colleges have an unprecedented opportunity to increase diversity at the highest levels in coming months. At least 11 local institutions of higher learning are seeking new presidents, including such giants of the sector as Harvard, MIT, Tufts and UMass-Amherst, according to a recent report from the Eos Foundation.

Over the past four years, there has been little progress in attempts to add more women presidents at local universities. Of the 88 colleges the Eos Foundation looked at, 34% now have women presidents — up just 1% since 2018. The number of women presidents at community colleges has dropped from 53% in 2019 to 36% in 2022.

And while the portion who are women of color has risen to 12%, from 6% in 2018, there are still no Latinx women college presidents in Massachusetts, a higher education center of excellence in the U.S.

Why focus on academia when the percentage of women leaders is even lower in other sectors, such as technology or the life sciences? For the simple reason that colleges are in a unique position to prepare and teach the next generation of workers to be alert to the communication styles and workplace contributions of both genders. That sensitivity is needed in the corporate world, and having women in the corner offices of our institutions of learning makes it more likely that it will happen. 

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