Times Higher Education which compiled the figures of the number and the names of the 43 out of the top 200 global universities led by women Vice-Chancellors insists that it “is striking that still only a few of the world’s top universities are led by women”. But, what aggregation of power can be more than collective women headship of the incubation centres which produces most of pace setters in literature, military, philosophy, nuclear physics, communication engineering, Mathematics, Drama, Anthropology, History, Economics, Microbiology, International Relations and what have you?
Hence, the notion of women take-over of the world suggested by the headline for this story, a hint that, with this figures, women have gone farther or the gender revolution has been more successful than the Socialist revolution, something that needs more investigation. The power of women as may be measured by the much of their presence in academia shows that the battle has been won and all that remains is consolidation. This is not to suggest that silent screams that are peculiarly patriarchy structured are not being heard from many parts of the world. Rather, it is to suggest how much progress has been made and how such progress tells us that the silent gender screams still emanating from here and there will also become a thing of the past too.
This contention or the headline may not apply much to sub-Saharan Africa but even then only in numerical terms. Otherwise, the Vice-Chancellor of Africa’s only member of the top 200 universities in the world is a woman. She is Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In other words, Africa is part of the world where the silent revolution by women, either through careful plotting or aggressive campaign, have successfully taken over power.
So, how else might we put it when women are the Vice-Chancellors of 43 out of the 200 toughest universities in the world, almost all of the ones they head being some of the toughest and the most prestigious?
As it is until just a month or two ago, such centres include Oxford University in the UK where Prof Louise Richardson has been in charge for nearly seven years. And to think that she arrived at Oxford from another ‘Oxford’ – University of St Andrews in Scotland and taught International Security at Harvard before then, all of which makes her the crown wearer of the silent women revolt against patriarchy by seizing the toughest universities.
From Oxford, we move to Imperial College London where Alice Gast has been in charge. Imperial College London is regarded, rightly or wrongly, as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) of the United Kingdom. It is a leadership training school. Of course, she attended global front rank universities such as University of Southern California and Princeton, was named “one of the top 100 ‘modern era engineers in the US in the leadership category” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Above all, Prof Gast is being succeeded later this year by the incumbent Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, Hugh Brady. The University of Bristol is one of the permanent top 10 universities in the UK. And you tell me there is still no women take-over of the world?
The UK share of women VCship of top universities extends to the University of Manchester, another permanent top 10 in the UK as well as the London School of Economics, the University of Leeds, Nottingham, Exeter, good old Trinity College, Dublin, the highly regarded University of Durham and the University of Liverpool.
In the United States, the list stretches from the University of California at Berkeley; the University of Pennsylvania; Cornel University; Brown; the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; the University of Washington; the University of Wisconsin at Madison; the University of Southern California; Ohio State University; the University of Rochester and the highly regarded University of Minnesota.
So, it remains places such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, John Hopkins, MIT, the University of Columbia; New York University and one or two more others for the women seizure of the headship of the most strategic campuses to be complete in the case of the US.
In Australia, the silent revolution is not as total as in the UK. Australian National University; the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney are still not taken. But the University of Queensland and the University of Monash have fallen.
In Canada, the University of Toronto is still out of the women’s control but the highly rated University of McGill is not that lucky. There, Professor Suzanne Fortier is in charge.
Happy International Women’s Day to the world as we go through the spaces of women power in academia below, courtesy Times Higher Education:
Top universities led by women in the THE World University Rankings top 200
|University of Oxford
|University of California, Berkeley
|Imperial College London
|University of Pennsylvania
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
|Mary Sue Coleman
|London School of Economics and Political Science
|University of Washington
|Ana Mari Cauce
|University of Manchester
|Wageningen University & Research
|The University of Queensland
|University of Wisconsin-Madison
|University of Southern California
|University of Amsterdam
|Geert ten Dam
|Ohio State University (Main campus)
|University of Minnesota
|Nathalie Drach Temam
|University of Helsinki
|University of Basel
|University of Freiburg
|University of Leeds
|University of Auckland
|University of Nottingham
|University of Rochester
|University of Exeter
|Trinity College Dublin
|Republic of Ireland
|Université de Paris
|Astrid Söderbergh Widding
|University of Liverpool
|University of Cape Town
|University of Gothenburg
|Queensland University of Technology
|Texas A&M University
|M. Katherine Banks
|Sapienza University of Rome
Note: The analysis was based on the university leader in post on 1 February 2022.