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Leading the Way to Parity: Preparation, Persistence, and the Role of Women Presidents

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Leading the Way to Parity: Preparation, Persistence, and the Role of Women Presidents

December 30, 1899

In 2017, in partnership with the TIAA Institute, the Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS) of the American Council on Education (ACE) released the eighth edition of the most comprehensive survey on the college presidency, the American College President Study (ACPS). The survey and its findings have provided a comprehensive view of the college presidency. ACPS helps ACE, and all stakeholders in higher education, better reflect on ways to diversify the presidency.

In September 2017, CPRS convened a group of 10 current and former presidents and association leaders for a roundtable to reflect on what ACPS data tell us about women presidents, and to dis​​​​​cuss their own experiences. The discussion provided important qualitative information for the brief, including the need for better understanding around why women presidents report different challenges than men, which may help extrapolate ways to support persistence and patch leaks in the presidential pipeline.

ACE’s brief offers several recommendations to increase the representation of women among college presidents, and argues that meaningful parity will only be achieved when it is sustained and sustainable—when women not only reach the presidency, but are established in the position in a way that sets them up to succeed and endure.


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