Female leadership falls at top universities

Decline in number of female presidents since last year underscores concerns about lack of female role models and advocacy.

Female leadership at 200 of the top-ranked universities worldwide fell this year to 17%, according to a report. Just 34 of the universities named in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings have female presidents, compared with 36 last year. Among the listing’s highest-ranked institutions across 27 nations are the University of Oxford, UK; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Imperial College London; the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and the University of California, Berkeley. The rankings consider research, teaching and international outlook among other factors. In Sweden, 4 of the 6 institutions that made the list are led by women. The United States has 11 female-led universities in the rankings, the report’s highest number. Janet Metcalfe, head of Vitae, a UK-based advocacy group for researchers, expressed concern at the figures. “More women in leadership positions provides positive role models for female academics,” says Metcalfe, “and can encourage better gender balance and diversity at all levels.”

Nature 556, 141 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-03927-6

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