Women Are On The Rise As Leaders Of Top Research Universities
In 2023, women make up 30% of R1 university presidents — an increase of 7% since 2021. Within this period, over 53% of new presidents were women. This is good news, but the numbers should be even higher given the progress that women have made in the past few decades.
Women have been the majority on college campuses since the 1980s, and today they earn 58% of undergraduate degrees, 62% of master’s degrees, and over 50% of PhDs. However, the presidency at the nation’s elite universities has been—and remains—predominantly men and white. Although we often hear university boards say that there are not enough women in the pipeline to the presidency, that’s just not true. According to a new report by Women’s Power Gap (WPG), “women comprise 39% of provosts, but drop to 30% of presidents.” Moreover, nearly 40% of the nation’s universities have never had a woman president.
According to WPG president and report author Andrea Silbert, “It is heartening to see more women leading our nation’s elite universities. This speaks to an increased awareness of the importance of having academic leadership that represents the diversity of the student population it serves. Women have outnumbered men on college campuses for decades, so it’s high time we’re starting to see more gender and racial diversity reflected in the highest roles in academia.”