Women Still Vastly Underrepresented Among Presidents of the Nation’s Leading Research Universities

Though women have outnumbered men in colleges since the late 1970s, and college populations have become increasingly diverse, the people who are at the helm of our nation’s top universities are still predominantly White men.

The Women’s Power Gap at Elite Universities: Scaling the Ivory Tower examines diversity data at the nation’s elite research universities. Conducted by the Women’s Power Gap Initiative at the Eos Foundation, in partnership with the American Association of University Women. The study found that women comprise just 22 percent of the 130 leaders of R1 research universities. Among these university presidents, only 5 percent are women of color. Only 10 percent of all university system presidents are women.

The data found that only six of the 130 research universities have had three women serve as presidents. They are the University of California, Santa Cruz, the Graduate School of the City University of New York, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Iowa, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most striking is the fact that 60 of these 130 research universities have never had a woman president.

Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for the low number of women leading these research universities is that their boards of trustees have an overwhelmingly large percentage of male members. The study found that only 8 percent of these universities had gender parity on their boards. Slightly over 25 percent had a woman as board chair.

The authors emphatically state that “the power gap is not a ‘pipeline’ issue. Our research found that women account for nearly 40 percent of all academic deans and provosts, from which 75 percent of all presidents are drawn. Their dramatic drop in the presidential ranks suggests that women still encounter systemic roadblocks one step from the top.”

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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