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July 23, 2005

Do women make better university presidents?

They might, according to this article in Inside Higher Ed. A study by James L. Fisher, James V. Koch, and Alice R. McAdory found that "female college presidents are more innovative and entrepreneurial than male presidents. Further, females are more inclined to take measured risks in their jobs than are males." They studied over 700 university presidents, 136 of whom were women. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

One source of the entrepreneurial acumen of women presidents appears to depend upon how they relate to innovative colleagues. Female presidents were substantially more likely than male presidents to develop friendships with people who were perceived to be different, as well as to encourage creative individuals with whom they might have disagreed.

[. . .]

Interestingly, our results do not necessarily encourage the frequently espoused view that female college presidents are more democratic in their styles than males, or that they are more inclined to group decision-making than their male counterparts. What is critically different about female presidents is that they are more entrepreneurial than male presidents and more attuned to taking risks.

In the comment thread under the article, one person points out that, assuming women have to be significantly more talented and intelligent than men in any given career in order to be afforded the same status, the women in the researchers' sample would be especially outstanding. He or she (posting under a gender-neutral handle, so I'm not sure) adds, "If the gender ratio was more equal, female college presidents would probably look more like male college presidents." What do you think?

Posted by at July 23, 2005 5:11 PM | Leadership


Is this for a class? This entry is stimulating and got me thinking...also got me to do some research on the topic. Well done.

Posted by: Ope at July 23, 2005 6:20 PM

This is a class blog, yes. I'm glad you liked my post, Ope! If you thought that article was interesting, you might also want to read The Womanly Art of Negotiation, which Debbie emailed me (thanks, Debbie!). It isn't about university presidency, but it does address gender and salary negotiation as well as the difficulties mothers with small children face in the academy.

Posted by: Clancy at July 23, 2005 11:13 PM

I don't know much about women entrepreneurship ability when it comes to serving as President for Universities but what I do know of is a woman ability to reach out and to encourage others makes her a good leader for any higher institutions.
This article is not only good, but it should be an example for men to allow women to take on more leadership roll in society. After all they can do a better job than so many so call leaders who're male.

Posted by: Bill at July 24, 2005 10:08 AM

In my opinion and in my lifetime of experiences, I have seen that women leaders become leaders only if they are better, smarter, and put up with more &*#@ than their male counterparts. Women often joke about if you had a certain body part you'd be making more money, you'd be in management, etc. Just because there have been advances in work environments, don't think there's still not a 'good ole boys' network going on... and it does not include non-whites or women. OK does this get a response from anyone? Just what I've seen and encountered personally in my life thus far.

Posted by: Debbie at July 25, 2005 4:52 PM