This week, we examine two articles that talk about women in leadership. These articles from Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education talk about the importance of women in leadership at colleges, highlighting issues such as increased pay and the need for greater representation of women in colleges.
The Importance of Women at the Top
“When women are in leadership in institutions of higher education, those institutions’ women faculty have higher salaries. This finding, among other important insights on gender disparities in the academy, comes from a study from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), highlighted by Inside Higher Ed this week.” Yet female presidents–while hiring more female administrators than their male counterparts and thereby clearing the advancement path for women–are typically paid almost ten percent less than their male counterparts. The problem is two-fold: underrepresentation and a pay gap. “It really starts with the faculty,” notes Jackie Bichsel, director of research at CUPA-HR. “The path to the president and provost positions is paved by the dean and senior faculty. One of the reasons you do not have a female president and provost is that there are not enough women in that pipeline because women are not being promoted up through the faculty ranks.” Furthermore, issues such as childcare and the responsibilities of women during COVID-19 to provide for her family should all be factored into their respective compensation packages. In sum, the article highlights the importance of female leadership in narrowing pay gaps for their female colleagues in addition to correcting a current underrepresentation.
The Importance of Intersectional Diversity
An article this week in The Chronicle of Higher Education examines why and how leadership needs to include more women and women of color to close the “power gap.” The foundation’s report, produced in partnership with the American Association of University Women (AAUW), highlights the lack of intersectional diversity stemming from a systemic bias in the system that needs to be addressed in elite colleges. “We really want to push the conversation away from the discussion around fixing women to be better, to be more assertive. It really is the system that needs an overhaul, not women,” says Gloria Blackwell, CEO of AAUW. While women of diversity make up a significant proportion in the president’s cabinet, data shows that while women account for “nearly 40 percent of all provosts and academic deans,[they] only account for 22 percent of presidents and 10 percent of system presidents.” In this study, gender balance in institutions of higher education was found to be very rare; most of those institutions, by far, were classified as “Needs Urgent Action” or “Work to Do. Ultimately, institutions must examine intersectionality as they consider diversity in their workforce since hiring people of color without simultaneously considering gender may result in an entirely male workforce.