International Women’s Day: ¼ of the Top 200 Higher Ed Leaders Worldwide are Women

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Since the eighties, women comprised a majority on college campuses while institutional leadership remained predominantly male. The 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings have been released, and analysis reveals that, for the first time, 50 of the top 200 institutions are led by women.

This number reflects a progressive increase of women-led institutions from 48 last year and 43 in 2022. Since THE first began collecting data in 2015, the number of women-led institutions has increased from 14% to 25%.

Women’s Power Gap (WPG) narrowed the numbers for U.S. institutions in their report and found the national average of women leaders, 30% of presidents and 39% of provosts, to be slightly higher than the global average. President of WPG, Andrea Silbert, said to Forbes, “This speaks to an increased awareness of the importance of having academic leadership that represents the diversity of the student population it serves… it’s high time we’re starting to see more gender and racial diversity reflected in the highest roles in academia.”

The WPG report further explores racial and ethnic diversity among U.S. higher ed leadership, revealing the continued need for diverse representation: of the 30% of university presidents that are women, 3% are Asian, 2% are Black, and 1% are Latina. Even among the 70% of higher ed leaders that are male, just 7% are Black, 6% are Asian, and 4% are Latino.

While this data does affirm a move toward more equitable leadership in higher ed, this celebration is simultaneously a call to action. These upward trends are born from an attitude of intentional inclusion and the cultivation of a campus environment where all students can thrive.