Women Progressing in Senior Leadership Roles at Research Universities but Long Way to Go

By: GWL Team | Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Women are becoming more prevalent in top leadership roles in research universities, providing their knowledge, vision, and distinct viewpoints. Their success serves as an example for future generations of female academics and communicates a message of empowerment.

Higher education has seen a dramatic transformation recently, particularly at the most esteemed research universities in the nation. Breaking over the "glass ceiling" that traditionally prevented women from holding senior leadership positions in academics, women have been progressively moving up the corporate ladder. This encouraging development not only represents an important step forward for gender equality but also ushers in a new age of inclusive and varied leadership in the academic world.

Women in leadership positions have the potential to improve decision-making, innovation, and organisational effectiveness, as well as solve structural problems in academia. This fosters a more friendly and encouraging atmosphere for all instructors, staff, and students.

Gender equality in academia has advanced significantly due to the rise of women in top leadership positions, which encourages inclusion, creativity, and diversity. We must continue to support and nurture women's growth to realise the full potential of higher education and build a more just society.

According to a recent assessment by the Eos Foundation's Women's Power Gap Initiative, women are increasingly occupying senior leadership roles at the country's most prestigious research universities. However, particularly in North Carolina, women and women of colour still have a long way to go before they are on level with males in such roles.

Report says:

Women are still disproportionately underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sectors, despite the fact that they currently hold more than half of undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. Women are equally underrepresented at the top colleges conducting the majority of STEM-related research.

The 146 U.S. schools that the Carnegie Institute categorised as "R1" — doctorate universities with very high research activity — are the subject of the Eos Foundation report, which was published last week. Researchers discovered recent advancement for women, despite the fact that white males continue to hold the majority of president and chancellor posts on those institutions.

"In our analysis of the leadership of the nation's 146 elite research universities (known as R1s), we found a significant increase in women presidents in the last 20 months," the report said. Half of the newly elected presidents between September 2021 and May 2023 were women, bringing their overall representation up from 22% to 30%.

The three R1 universities in North Carolina, Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, are all run by males.

Gladys Robinson, a state senator from Guilford, said last week on Newsline, "That is a statistic where we need to improve. The number of female chancellors at our institutions has increased, but not in positions of high leadership at these prestigious research universities. You'd anticipate to see more female leaders given the proportion of women who enrol in scientific and research fields at North Carolina's universities and colleges.

Gladys is a member of the Governor's Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina as well as the Senate's permanent committee on higher education. She also spent ten years on the Board of Governors at UNC.

"Leadership and who is considered for these leadership positions does matter," Robinson remarked. According to Report Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), whip for the House Majority and co-chair of the House standing committees on higher education, the top research universities in the state may all have male leadership. But there are now more female chancellors than ever before in the UNC System.

"We now have a number of excellent female chancellors at UNC schools, including UNC-Charlotte, Western Carolina University, and Appalachian State," added Jon. I've liked getting to know everyone of them and talking to them. I believe that systemic leadership and all of our institutions must also be examined.

This week, a statistical analysis of women in leadership positions at prestigious research institutes in North Carolina and elsewhere. There are 146 public and private universities and colleges in the United States that have been given the Carnegie Foundation's "R1" designation.

Research institutes prize the title because it attracts top personnel and funding for their projects. It may also direct businesses looking to profit from research brains and their labour to a certain region, as North Carolina's own Research Triangle Park demonstrates.

North Carolina has three R1 universities: Duke University, North Carolina State University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. The institutions, which are situated in Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, respectively, have a significant impact on the Triangle region's economy through their research.

In the past year, women earned 58 percent of all undergraduate degrees in the United States. Women received 62 percent of all master's degrees awarded in the United States in the previous year, and they held more than half of all PhDs.

Women have 30% of the president or chancellor roles at R1 institutions in the United States, up from 22% in 2021. 6 - the proportion of women of colour in president or leadership positions at U.S. R1 institutions; this is an increase of 1% from 2021. 70 percent of males hold president or chancellor roles at R1 institutions in the United States.

Each of North Carolina's three R1 universities is headed by a white male, representing an 8 percent reduction since 2021. 18% of the posts are held by men of colour. There are 6 female presidents among the 8 "Ivy League" universities in the country.

At Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania, women now hold the highest leadership posts. Among the 146 R1 institutions in the country, 57 campuses (or roughly 40%) have never had a female president or chancellor. The proportion of women board chairs is under 40. 38 - the proportion of female presidents or chancellors appointed in the past two years.

10 R1 institutions, including Columbia, Dartmouth, George Washington University, New York University, Ohio University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Maryland, Baltimore County University, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Texas at Arlington, have named their first female president in the previous two years.