Number of Males

Number of Females

Males vs Females in Senior Leadership

Overall results of the ModernThink survey question about the diversity of senior leadership match well with results of other research on the makeup of senior leadership at colleges and universities: Women are making some progress, but racial and ethnic minorities are not. According to the study On the Pathway to the Presidency 2013, for example, between 2008 and 2013 the percentage of women in senior administrative leadership positions increased from 40 percent to 43 percent, while overall representation of ethnic and racial minorities remained unchanged.* (Women still make up just about 20 percent of presidents.) Minority representation in the position of Chief Academic Officer, a primary feeder to the presidential position, however, has actually declined. The share of African American provosts dropped from 3.7% to 2.3% and the representation of Hispanics among provosts dropped from 1.5% to 0.8%.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac 2013-2014, minorities are somewhat better represented in both faculty positions and professional executive, administrative and managerial positions, which include some positions that should be feeders to the top.† African Americans, for example, make up 9.3% of faculty and 6.7% of professional executives, administrators and managers while Hispanics make up 6% and 5% respectively. (More, of course, remains to be done to make these numbers more reflective of the increasing diversity among college students and the U.S. population as a whole.

Racial Composition of The Senior Leadership Team/Presidents Cabinet

  • Associate Institutions
  • Baccalaureate Institutions
  • Masters Institutions
  • Research Institutions
  • Special Focus Institutions

Avg. Number of African American Senior Leaders

Avg. Number of Asian Senior Leaders

Avg. Number of Bi-Racial/Multi-RacialSenior Leaders

Avg. Number of Caucasian Senior Leaders

Avg. Number of Hispanic/Latino Senior Leaders

Avg. Number of Native American Senior Leaders

Avg. Number of Pacific Islander Senior Leaders

Avg. Number of Other Senior Leaders

Why do the top echelons at colleges and universities remain so white? The reasons often depend upon who you ask. One thing that most agree upon is that the candidate pool must be more diverse. Says Rena I. Seltzer, a personal coach for academics, “Research shows that if there is only one person of color in a hiring pool, then they are judged according to stereotypes about the group rather than as an individual. But if the hiring pool includes multiple minorities, then they are judged on an individual basis.”‡ A roadblock remains, however, if those in hiring positions continue to insist that “qualified” people must have the same pedigree and experiences as those currently serving in the upper echelons, an approach that some accuse Ivy League schools of taking.‡

*American Council on Education and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, On the Pathway to the Presidency, 2013.
†Almanac 2013-2014, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 23, 2013.
‡Quoted in Patton, Stacey, “At the Ivies, It’s Still White at the Top,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 9, 2013.