Silbert keeps eye on rising tide of women running higher ed

Silbert keeps eye on rising tide of women running higher ed

Few people watch the changing of the guard in the president’s office at various universities as closely as Andrea Silbert does.

She’s not angling for the gig herself. Instead, as president of the Eos Foundation, Silbert has become an important advocate for gender parity among top leadership positions.

The foundation’s latest Women’s Power Gap survey results, released last week, show encouraging trends. The percentage of the nation’s 146 elite research universities (known as “R1s”) where women hold the title of president, or are about to, rose to 30 percent this spring from 22 percent in 2021. Women are currently presidents or presidents-elect at six of the eight Ivy League schools, including Harvard University, where Claudine Gay will become the school’s second-ever female president in a few weeks when she takes over for Larry Bacow. More than half of the 38 R1 university presidents appointed in the past two years have been women.

Among all Massachusetts colleges and universities, not just the R1s here, women represent 39 percent of presidents (up from 33 percent in 2018), and 16.5 percent are women of color. Those numbers include Yves Salomon-Fernández, who was named last month to lead the Urban College of Boston, a small nonprofit community college downtown.

But Silbert said troubling signs remain, such as the fact nearly 40 percent of R1s have never had a woman as president.

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