Female University Presidents in the United States: Learning From Their Career Trajectory

Presenter: Jingwen Wang

Research Category:
College: College of Professional Studies
Major(s): Corporate & Org Communication
Graduation Date: 2021

According to the World University Rankings (2015-16), 17% of the top 200 universities in the world are led by women. This illustrates the leadership gender gap among the world’s most elite universities is still huge. (Bothwell, 2016). This project seeks to circumvent the gender stereotypical threat of ‘women are less likely to be leaders than men’ by illustrating highly successful female role models, as grounded in the social learning theory (Bandura, 1977). Based on a two-prong research approach of cultural history and cultural politics, three cases are analyzed. An analysis of three presidents was conducted exploring their shared values and cultural characteristics from historical, political, and linguistic perspectives. The critical analysis focuses on Frances Elizabeth Willard from Evanston College, Judith Rodin from Pennsylvania University, and Drew Gilpin Faust from Harvard University. A synthesis of the findings including values as diversity and equality. In order to reduce gender stereotypes, active steps should also be taken to increase the visibility of female leaders, thereby supporting visions for other women to pursue their path to leadership. (Latu, et al., 2013). To conclude, same-gender role models can help to shape other womenÕs values, attitudes, abilities, and behavior in similar contexts with expectations of similar outcomes. As a call to action, there are two different perspectives for future development. Examine how female presidents in the top universities in the United States can do to help others to envision that leadership career path and how females can pursue roles as becoming presidents in the top universities.