By Michael Levenson
April 10, 2017
Last year, a search committee at Springfield Technical Community College recommended four highly qualified administrators as finalists for the job of president. Three of them were women, but the Board of Trustees ultimately picked the only male candidate to lead the institution.
None of those involved in the selection process has suggested that sexism affected the outcome. But the decision fit a pattern among colleges and universities in Massachusetts and nationwide: Despite often being named as finalists, women are rarely chosen to serve as presidents.
Just 35 percent of the 80 private colleges and universities in Massachusetts have female presidents, according to the Eos Foundation, a philanthropic organization. In the state’s public higher education system, the numbers are even lower: Just 31 percent of the 29 institutions have women leaders.
That figure could dip even lower, to 24 percent, when Patricia Meservey steps down later this year as president of Salem State University. She is currently the only woman serving as president of one of the nine state colleges in Massachusetts, and Salem State has not named her successor.