Most Ivy League presidencies now belong to women

As a new school year winds up, something has shifted in the top offices of America's elite universities — for the first time in history, six out of the eight Ivy League colleges will be led by women. 

The rise of female presidents at Ivy institutions could open doors for other women, according to Ruth Gotian, EdD, chief learning officer at New York City-based Weill Cornell Medicine and author of an Aug. 1 Forbes article on the topic. Their climb to the top sends the message that "times are changing," which could inspire young girls to aim high, Dr. Gotian wrote. Female leaders are also more likely to elevate diversity and representation; for example, women were not included in clinical research trials until Bernadine Healy, MD, was named director of the National Institutes of Health in 1991. 

Although women have shattered glass ceilings at the Ivies, other institutions have yet to catch up, Dr. Gotian wrote. Around one-third of college presidents are women, despite the fact that women make up 60 percent of college students and graduate at higher rates than men. 

"This was a historic turning point for women who only started taking the top role in the Ivy League in 1994, with the appointment of Judith Rodin at the University of Pennsylvania," Dr. Gotian wrote. "Progress has been slow." 

These six women will lead their respective organizations through this "historic" year: 

1. Claudine Gay, PhD. Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)

2. Nemat Shafik, PhD. Columbia University (New York City) 

3. Sian Beilock, PhD. Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.) 

4. Christina Paxson, PhD. Brown University (Providence, R.I.) 

5. Martha Pollack, PhD. Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) 

6. M. Elizabeth Magill. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) 

Read Dr. Gotian's full article here.

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