Gender disparities in leadership roles in higher education

Gender disparities in higher education are quite evident when it comes to academic leadership positions, where women are highly underrepresented. When young boys and girls attend high school followed by the college where men lead the majority of the administrative ranks, this situation conditions them to develop a stereotypical attitude of men being the more dominant and powerful sex, and so they are more eligible to drive the positions in power. Times have changed, and we have come a far way to see that female enrollment in higher education has increased at par with men (although there are still some exceptions where women are underrepresented in majors like engineering and physics).

Then why is it so that women don’t go on to take up the leadership roles despite increased records of women graduating from college in recent times? What could be the underlying reason? Are women intimidated by male dominance in these positions? Do women find leadership responsibilities daunting because of the challenges that they have to face in these positions? Or is it due to the lack of female role model leaders that demotivates young women to pursue their career in this direction? And probably, do females not have a sound support system from their male counterparts? Although universities adopt measures to ensure “affirmative action for equal opportunity to everyone” in regular employment positions, they don’t strategize this effectively when it comes to leadership roles. The problem can never be addressed merely by providing equal opportunities, and sometimes we have to take a step further to probe the issue with a deeper insight before drawing conclusions. A radical transformation cannot happen overnight, but it can be made possible through continuous efforts in training young girls to overcome the hurdles that restrict them from following their passion and at the same time training men to perceive the importance of female role models in leadership positions.

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