Represent! U.S. female college presidents shine in international report

With Harvard's and Columbia's recent presidential appointments taking effect in July, two more U.S. schools are set to join the Times Higher Education's international list of prestigious schools led by women.

The number of female-led institutions of higher education around the world has increased this year, and the United States is leading the charge. Of the 48 top-ranked schools around the world led by a female president, 16 of them represent the red, white and blue, according to Times Higher Education (THE).

Next on the list with the most women leading the world’s top-ranked schools is the U.K. at eight, followed by a tie between Germany and the Netherlands with five and France with three.

The United States not only made up one-third of the list, but it also made up the vast majority of the ranking’s most elite institutions. Five out of the top 10 women-led schools were from America, four of which reside in the country’s top five. The University of Oxford in the U.K. nabbed the top spot, but MIT and its president, Sally A. Kornbluth, followed right behind. MIT is ranked fifth in overall world rankings, and the University of California Berkeley came in third on this list, eighth overall. The University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University trailed closely behind.

With recent Ivy League presidential appointments, an even higher representation of U.S. schools could easily end up on this list in the future. In July, Harvard and Columbia will officially welcome new presidents, both of whom are women. THE’s overall world rankings currently rank those schools at #2 and #11, respectively. Only 2.5% of THE’s top 200 institutions of higher education are led by women of color, which makes Harvard’s recent appointment of its first Black female president, Claudine Gay, a major milestone. Minouche Shafik from the London School of Economics and Political Science, which ranks seventh among women-led universities and 37 overall, will also be trailblazing her war into Columbia’s top position. She will be their first female president.

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“Having an institution like Harvard really take a stand and put a Black woman at the helm—this venerable, revered institution—we hope will send a signal to so many of the other institutions that are still enmeshed in recruiting and procedures and governing boards that are not inclusive,” said Gloria Blackwell, chief executive of the American Association of University Women.

While the United States seems to be making promising leaps, Blackwell alludes to the lack of female representation that plagues schools internationally. The 48 top-ranked women-led colleges were dissected from THE’s top 200 overall. That’s less than a quarter of the world’s best schools being led by women.

However, it does represent a 12% increase compared to last year and a 41% bump from five years ago. In Germany, five of the leading universities are led by women—three more than last year, according to the World Economic Forum.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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