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MA Colleges With Best Women Representation in Leadership

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A new study that reviewed women representation in the leadership of higher education institutions in Massachusetts put Simmons, Smith and Emmanuel colleges at the top while Ivy League colleges fared poorly.

To study the extent of power gap and increase the presence of women leaders from diverse backgrounds in different sectors of Massachusetts, the Eos Foundation on Wednesday announced the release of Women’s Power Gap in Higher Education: Study and Rankings.

The study was undertaken to understand why women in Massachusetts remain underrepresented, even though they account for 51.5 percent of the population, and to suggest solutions to reach the parity.

The study has found that most of the Massachusetts colleges and universities have no gender balance, with 32 percent of institutions never having a female president, while 26 of them have less than 30 percent women on their board and 14 have none at all.

It presents a dismal picture when it comes to women holding the position of president. Just one out of 15 state universities has a women president. When it comes to women of color, there is minimal progress and data hard to obtain. Out of 94 women presidents, only five are women of color.

The study has presented a positive picture of women power gap at public community colleges and private colleges, with 40 percent and 48 percent of women holding the position of president respectively.

The survey conducted by the foundation in collaboration with  UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy (CWPPP) has ranked Simmons College offering masters programs as the top college in Comprehensive Gender Leadership Ranking of all Institutions.

Simmons University*

Topping the chart with 96 points out of 100, Simmons University has 6,111 students on roll, and more than 91 percent of them is women. The university received 36 points when it comes to women holding the post of president and 36 points for women holding senior leadership positions.

At the same time, the university has 80 percent of women who earn top salaries.

The university, located in Boston, offers renowned coeducational graduate programs in liberal arts, management, information science, nursing and health sciences, social work, public health, education, communications, and library.

Smith College

The second spot has been taken by the Smith College with 92 points. The college has 2,896 students on roll, with 98 percent of them being female.

The college has 60 percent of women who earn top salaries.

The college was founded in 1871 with 14 students and today it offers various undergraduate courses with students from 48 states and 68 countries.

Emmanuel College

Boston based Emmanuel College, a Catholic institution ranked third scoring 88 points. Emmanuel has 75 percent enrolled women out of 2,190 students. The college has been given 40 points in president weightage and 18 in senior leadership weightage.

The college has five top salary positions out of which four are filled by the women.

Wellesley College

Wellesley stood fourth with a score of 88 points. It has 98 percent enrolled women out of 2,482 students. The college has been given 40 points in president weightage and 18 in senior leadership weightage.

The college has 60 percent of women who earn top salaries with a woman of color president.

Bay Path University

Bay Path University, which offers masters programs have stood at the fifth spot with 94 percent women enrollment out of 3,225 students.

The college ranks top with 80 percent when it comes to women earning top salaries.

“Considering Bay Path’s history as women’s college, and their 94 percent female enrollment, this level of parity is to be expected. Women comprise 80 percent of the most highly compensated professionals,” the report says.

Many colleges despite topping other surveys and reviews fared poorly when it comes to gender parity.

Ivy League Colleges Rank Poorly

Harvard University ranked 41 with 49 percent women enrollment out of 29,908 students. Harvard has ten top salary positions out of which just two are filled by the women.

The university has a female executive vice president. The board chair is a man and deans of degree-granting programs are predominantly male.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst scored just 29 points getting 55th rank for 49 percent women enrollment out of 30,037 students. The university has been given 17 points in senior leadership weightage and 12 in president weightage.

Most of the leadership categories at the university are dominated by men. Women comprise just 10 percent of the highly paid professionals.

Amherst College, which ranked as the best small college of 2018 by the College Consensus, stood at 36th spot with 42 points. The college scored points due to its female president and provost but has just 27 percent women on board.

Although Emerson College emerged as the most LGBTQ-friendly college in the country in the recent Princeton Review rankings, it fared poorly in Women Power Gap survey, holding the 30th spot with 45 points.

The survey lauded Emerson College for achieving gender parity in their senior leadership team but it is yet to reach parity on the board of trustees, keeping Emerson out of the top category

The Tufts University ranked 87th with 55 percent women enrollment. It has 38 percent women on the board of trustees and 40 percent of women who are highly paid.

The institution never had a female president with male dominant degree-granting program programs. The board of trustees is chaired by a man.

The study also recommended a number of measures to achieve gender parity by filling the vacancies with women and elevate women to serve as chairs on their boards.

It also recommended a regular unconscious bias training for the boards, presidents and senior officials who play role in decision making and hiring. The Governor and legislature were asked to play an active role in setting gender parity at public institutions by making it a top priority.

The study seeks a greater role for Governor who should choose the board of chairs at state universities considering gender, racial and ethnic balance. “The responsibility for increasing gender parity across positions of leadership does not lie with women alone,” reads the conclusion of the report.

“To close the power gap the Commonwealth needs male allies to join in this work.”


*Simmons College changed its name on September 1, 2018 to Simmons University.

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