Women comprise almost 60% of U.S. college enrollment, according to spring 2021 estimates from the nonprofit organization the National Student Clearinghouse. The Chronicle of Higher Education, on the other hand, reports that as of 2019, they constituted only about 30% of college presidents – including those who lead two-year colleges. (Presiding over a college or university is unfortunately not one of the 32 fastest growing jobs dominated by women.)
But that situation may be changing. Using a variety of internet sources, 24/7 Wall St. compiles a list of 49 top-rated colleges and universities around the country with female presidents. From a shortlist of about 100 institutions, we selected the 49 assessed with a grade ‘B’ or higher by education review and analysis company Niche in their 2022 Best Colleges in America report. (Undergraduate population and annual tuition and expenses also come from Niche.)
Among the various explanations for the dearth of women leading universities, besides just plain bias, are a lack of diversity in hiring practices, a lack of women on the college boards that do the hiring, and the reluctance of some women to accept such a position due to the demands of family life.
More than half of the women on our list ascended to the top of the Ivory Tower within the last five years. Among the most recent is Liz Magill at the University of Pennsylvania, who was unanimously confirmed on March 14 of this year and will begin her tenure July 1. Women now lead three of the eight Ivy League schools, in fact. (Here’s a look at the hardest college to get into in every state.)
Women are presidents of schools with small enrollments, such as Olin College in Needham, Massachusetts, as well as big schools like the massive Ohio State University. Speaking of OSU, it is one of four Big Ten schools on the list helmed by a woman.
The state on the list with the most female college presidents is Texas with seven, followed by New York with five and California with four.
To identify 49 top-rated colleges with a female president, 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the U.S. colleges and universities that currently have a female president. Of this group (about 100 organizations), we selected the 49 which were assessed with a grade ‘B’ or higher by education review and analysis company Niche. Grades, as well as student body and net price data were obtained from Niche’s 2022 Best Colleges in America report.
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