WomenCount: Leaders in Higher Education 2016, authored and presented by Norma Jarboe OBE, and sponsored by Perrett Laver was recently launched at an event hosted by Imperial College London.
The report profiled women recently appointed to Vice-Chancellor positions across the UK HEI sector including to those institutions where Perrett Laver supported the search who in the last year include Professor Louise Richardson to the University of Oxford, Professor Sally Mapstone to the University of St Andrews, Professor Kathryn Mitchell to the University of Derby, Professor Janet Beer to the University of Liverpool, Professor Judith Petts to Plymouth University and Professor Julie Mennell to the University of Cumbria.
Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities and President of Imperial, Professor Alice Gast spoke before Perrett Laver's Kate Hunter chaired a discussion including Professor Geoff Dawson - Chair of the Committee of University Chairs and Chair of the Board of Governors at Sheffield Hallam University, Dame Nicola Brewer - Vice-Provost (International) at UCL and Imperial’s Provost Professor James Stirling. Finally, Libby Hackett, Partner in Asia Pacific made closing remarks addressing how an Executive Search firm can help an institution in identifying and securing high calibre female appointees.
The event brought together leaders (both Executive and Non-Executive) from across the HE sector as well as those from across the wider public and private sectors.
The revised report considers women’s representation in Executive (Vice-Chancellor) and Non-Executive positions across senior leadership positions across the university sector and tracks progress made since the 2013 report on the same topic. It concludes that the higher education sector is making steady progress towards gender balance, and highlights an encouraging rise of women’s representation on governing bodies and an increase of gender balanced boards. However the report notes that the two most senior roles in university governance – the Chair of the Governing body and the Vice-Chancellor - are much further from parity, with women holding only roughly a fifth of these roles.
Speaking at the event, Nicky Morgan MP said: “The question we face is not why we should have more women in governance and senior leadership roles, but how we should achieve it.
“There are some fantastic examples of inspirational female leaders in the higher education sector. Professor Alice Gast is a great example. She’s the first woman to be President at Imperial, and her academic pedigree is beyond question – spending time at prestigious institutions like Princeton and Stanford, not to mention of course her current post here at Imperial, one of the best universities in the world.”
Highlighting that there remains work to be done, she said: “While the report highlights the good progress that has been made, overall women are still under-represented in senior leadership roles in our higher education institutions.
“We cannot be complacent. This is not a case of ‘job done’.”