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The Women’s Power Gap at Elite Research Universities

Originally published by Joe Killian for NC Newsline

Women are increasingly taking top leadership positions at the nation’s most elite research universities, according to a new report by the Eos Foundation’s Women’s Power Gap Initiative. But women – especially women of color — still have a long way to go to achieve parity with men in such positions, particularly in North Carolina.

Though women now earn more than half the undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in the U.S., women are still heavily underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. At the elite universities doing the most STEM-related research, women are similarly underrepresented.

The Eos Foundation report, released last week, breaks down diversity data for the 146 U.S. institutions designated “R1” — doctoral universities with very high research activity — by the Carnegie Institute. While the majority of president and chancellor positions on those campuses are still held by white men, researchers found recent progress for women.

“In our analysis of the leadership of the nation’s 146 elite research universities (known as R1s), we found a significant increase in women presidents in the last 20 months,” the report reads. “Between September 2021 and May of 2023, half of the newly appointed presidents were women, increasing their overall representation from 22% to 30%.”

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