Higher Education Could be the State’s First Major Industry to Reach Gender Parity

35 Massachusetts College Presidents Meet at Women’s Power Gap Summit...

BOSTON — Today, the Women’s Power Gap Initiative (WPG) at the Eos Foundation released the second annual Women’s Power Gap in Higher Education report ranking all schools in the state based upon representation of women at top levels. The study’s findings will be released at a landmark summit of 35 college and university presidents, meeting to discuss strategies for accelerating diversity among their ranks. The study reveals both progress and potential:

  • While women are just 37% of all the state’s college and university presidents, they were half of the 14 newly appointed presidents for the 2019 academic year.
  • The pipeline to the presidency is full of qualified female candidates in key leadership roles – women make up over half of all deans and provosts statewide.
  • Obstacles remain, however, particularly among the largest universities, where women hold just 22% of presidencies, and none of the 13 large university boards are chaired by a woman.
  • There was only one woman among the ten most highly paid presidents in the state.
  • Among our public state universities, we do not have a single female president despite having five a decade ago.

“The opportunity is within reach for the higher education sector to become the first major industry in Massachusetts to reach gender parity. The turnout of so many presidents shows that these leaders are committed to creating inclusive, diverse leadership and stand poised to publicly lead on this issue,” said Andrea Silbert, President of the Eos Foundation and lead author of the study. 

Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College and chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the WPG added, “Colleges and university leaders have begun to set aspirational goals to achieve gender parity, committing resources, putting strategies into play, and empowering talent. The facts in the Women’s Power Gap report have prompted us all to take stock of where we are and to be honest with ourselves as we progress toward these goals.”

Report data show that gender parity varies by type of institution. Women comprise 53% of presidents at our state community colleges but only 22% at our doctoral universities. Further, not all presidencies are equal, particularly regarding compensation, where average doctoral presidential pay is more than four times that of associate’s schools ($790,938 and $189,555).

New to this year’s report is self-reported racial/ethnic data across leadership positions. Findings mirror gender representation with community colleges leading the state and an imperative all institutions to increase people of color among their leadership ranks.

The Higher Education Presidents’ Summit will feature a panel of presidents including Pelton, Lawrence Bacow of Harvard University, Laurie Leshin of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Pam Eddinger of Bunker Hill Community College. Additional host committee members include:

  • Roger Brown, Berklee College of Music,
  • John Keenan, Salem State,
  • Robert Brown, Boston University,
  • Marisa Kelly, Suffolk University,
  • Javier Cevallos, Framingham State,
  • Ellen Kennedy, Berkshire CC,
  • Frederick Clark, Bridgewater State,
  • Richard Miller, Olin College of Engineering,
  • Michael Collins, UMass-Medical,
  • Paula Milone-Nuzzo, MGH Institute of Health Professions,
  • Alison Davis-Blake, Bentley University,
  • Jacqueline Moloney, UMass-Lowell,
  • Mark DeFusco, Bay State College,
  • Anthony Monaco, Tufts University,
  • Helen Drinan, Simmons University,
  • David Nelson, MassArt,
  • Harry Dumay, Elms College,
  • Katherine Newman, UMass-Boston,
  • Sister Janet Eisner, Emmanuel College,
  • Luis Pedraja, Quinsigamond CC,
  • Patricia Gentile, North Shore CC,
  • David Podell, Mass Bay CC,
  • Gena Glickman, Massasoit CC,
  • Valerie Roberson, Roxbury CC,
  • Lily Hsu, Labouré College,
  • Christina Royal, Holyoke CC,
  • Deborah Jackson, Cambridge College,
  • Yves Salomon-Fernández, Greenfield CC, and
  • Paula Johnson, Wellesley College,
  • Kurt Steinberg, Montserrat College of Art.
  • Andrea Kalyn, NE Conservatory of Music,


About the Women’s Power Gap Initiative:

The mission of the Women’s Power Gap Initiative is to dramatically increase the number of women leaders from a diverse set of backgrounds across all sectors in Massachusetts. The Initiative conducts actionable research on prominent sectors of the Massachusetts economy, measures the extent of the power gap, and proposes solutions to reach parity. For more information, see WomensPowerGap.org.

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