By ECCO International Associate Chris Jones
Attempting to be a leader when you’re a female can be discouraging. Let me share with you a brief tale of discouraging facts that led to a change in careers. About 30 years ago, I thought my dream job would be as a college professor. I love mentoring. I love writing and media production. I thought I’d be a great professor. I enrolled at the University of Minnesota and as a trial run, I took a course in researching. My topic: Women in Academia. The results were so depressing I dropped the course and my plans for academia. It is still a dream that I have not fulfilled.
Flash forward 30 years and guess what? Nothing. Has. Changed.
Academia is still one of the last great strongholds of male domination. Women have been in the majority among undergraduate students since 1980 (about the time of my original research) and among graduate students since 1988, and yet women have not made significant strides in academic leadership. Women made up 10% of the college presidents in 1980 and 23% in 2006. They have increased their share of presidencies by one percentage point every two years. At that rate, it will be another 48 years before women reach parity in academic leadership.
Academia is not the only world in which these sorts of numbers exist.
In our last post, ECCO International offered an infographic with 10 amazing facts about women in leadership. In this post, we’d like to offer a partial solution to increase women in leadership roles: “10 Things to Boost Women in Leadership.”
A summit of women college presidents sponsored by HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) came up with these strategies for academia:
- identify and work with male allies
- work with boards of trustees, the group that hires most presidents
- collaborate with other organizations that are working to increase the representation of women in leadership positions
- continue to support leadership training for women
- continue to collect and track the numbers of women on boards of trustees, in presidencies and in other leadership positions
What are your strategies?
Source: Forbes. “Why So Few Women College Presidents,” Lucie Lapovsky, April 13, 2014