The share of the world’s top universities that are led by women has reached 20 per cent for the first time, according to an analysis of Times Higher Education World University Rankings data.
Forty-one – or 20 per cent – of the top 200 universities in the latest 2021 ranking have a female leader, up from 39 (19 per cent) last year and 34 (17 per cent) in 2018. The 2021 and 2020 rankings both included 202 institutions in the top 200 because several universities at the bottom of the band received joint scores.
The US has seen the biggest decline in terms of the number of universities led by women, with just 10 of its 59 top-200 representatives (17 per cent) having a female leader in 2021 (down from 13 out of 60 last year). However, Germany counteracted that loss; four of its 21 universities (19 per cent) are now led by women, up from just one out of its 23 representatives in 2020.
The Netherlands, Italy, UK, Switzerland and Australia all also outperform the global average in terms of their share of female-led top universities, according to the analysis, which was conducted ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.
Despite the US’ decline this year, it is still home to the highest number of female presidents in the top 200 list, but the UK is fast catching up. Nine of the UK’s 29 representatives are now led by women (up from seven out of 28 last year), narrowing the gap between the number of female leaders in the two countries from six to one.
Of the 27 countries that feature in the top 200, 14 have no female university leaders in that group.
Top 10 universities led by women
|THE World University Rank 2021||University||Country||University leader|
|1||University of Oxford||United Kingdom||Louise Richardson|
|7||University of California, Berkeley||United States||Carol Christ|
|11||Imperial College London||United Kingdom||Alice Gast|
|13||University of Pennsylvania||United States||Amy Gutmann|
|19||Cornell University||United States||Martha Pollack|
|27||London School of Economics and Political Science||United Kingdom||Minouche Shafik|
|29||University of Washington||United States||Ana Mari Cauce|
|35||King’s College London||United Kingdom||Evelyn Welch (interim)|
|40||McGill University||Canada||Suzanne Fortier|
|49||University of Wisconsin-Madison||United States||Rebecca Blank|
Note: The analysis was based on the university leader in post on 8 February 2021.