In the coming decade, higher education will see unprecedented turnover among its presidents—over 60%. This presents a pivotal opportunity to shape the next generation of higher education leadership. We acknowledge that there is a vibrant pipeline of diverse women and men who desire to lead and who are currently underrepresented in higher education leadership. We understand that women face particular barriers in advancing into leadership roles. ACE has had a longstanding commitment to advancing women leaders, and we know that diversity creates stronger leadership.
Evidence borrowed from the corporate sector demonstrates that the benefits to organizations led or governed by greater numbers of women are tangible, resulting in greater financial success, productivity, innovation, employee satisfaction, retention, engagement, and reputation. Yet progress toward gender equity in the presidency of American colleges and universities has been incremental at best; the needle has been moved only three percentage points in the last decade. Today, 30% of college and university presidents are women. The Moving the Needle: Advancing Women in Higher Education Leadership initiative raises awareness and a sense of urgency that calls for a commitment of today’s leaders to effect change to achieve gender parity in the future leadership of our higher education institutions.
As presidents, we must ask ourselves, “Who will succeed us?”
A Call to Action
As presidents, we must do our part to prepare the next generation of leaders—offering our sponsorship as well as our mentorship. Every presidential vacancy is an opportunity to advance women. We remain committed all the while to advancing a culture within our own institutions that embraces gender diversity for all its benefits.
As a president, I recognize my ability to effect change, inform perception, and elevate priorities. As a president, I have a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of presidents who will succeed me. As a president, I promote the advancement of women to the presidency as a national imperative and seek ways to support the advancement of all women by:
- Nominating qualified women to the highest positions of leadership in higher education wherever and whenever possible
- Providing opportunities for emerging women leaders to gain access to the skills and experiences necessary to advance
- Educating others, including boards, on the benefits of a gender-diversified leadership
- Empowering leadership teams in my own institution to sponsor women leaders
A Shared Vision
I share the vision of the Moving the Needle initiative to achieve gender parity: At least 50% of chief executives of our nation’s higher education institutions will be women by 2030. I am inviting you to add your name to be listed on the commitment when the national call is announced.