In advance of International Women's Day, EUA organised a webinar dedicated to the dynamic role that women are increasingly playing in the leadership of higher education institutions. The webinar presented the latest statistics on female leadership across the EUA membership, providing participants an opportunity to compare the findings to the realities they encounter at home.

The profile of institutional leaders in the higher education and research and innovation landscape has evolved significantly over the past decade in terms of gender, ethnic diversity, age and professional background – ranging from business to industry. The 2021 NEWLEAD report underlines that the most striking change regards gender when selecting executive heads of universities.

Indeed, there has been a significant increase in women assuming leadership positions, serving as rector or vice-rector, across the European University Association membership. In the past there was evidence of a growing number of women in leadership positions linked to fine arts and education sciences. However, in the last two years there has been an increase in women taking on high-level roles in universities focused on various disciplines, including in the most prestigious ones.

In 2019, the EUA INVITED report highlighted the importance of inclusiveness as a strategic question for higher education institutions across Europe, impacting learning and teaching, research, innovation and institutional cultures. Beyond the gender issue, many have taken action to find new ways to enable people from various backgrounds to find their place in higher education. The idea that diverse learning environments may better prepare students for a diverse society and diverse research environments has been gaining ground.

In the meantime, research funders are pushing for more diversity and inclusion. While gender is only one factor, it is now part of broader commitments universities are expected to make in their activities to ensure diversity. The European Commission has introduced, for example, the necessity to have a gender equality plan for all public bodies, research organisations and higher education institutions applying to the Horizon Europe programme.  

This webinar offered a discussion on the state of play in Europe, as well as inspiring best practices in the field. It will address questions such as: Is gender parity now a reality in academia? Are more women from all backgrounds taking on leadership positions in academia? How can academia benefit from this cultural change?

Watch the recording: 









Speakers and presentations:

  • Annick Castiaux, Rector, University of Namur, Belgium
  • Mina Stareva, Head of Sector - Gender, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Ella Ghosh, Senior Advisor at the Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF), Norway
  • Kathrin Müller, project manager, U-Multirank, Germany
  • Kamila Kozirog, Policy & Project Officer, EUA
  • Thomas Jørgensen, Senior Policy Coordinator, EUA

Moderated by Christel Vacelet, Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Membership, EUA.

Handouts shared during the webinar:

INVITED report

Kifinfo website

She Figures - interactive website

She Figures 2021 - publication

U-Multirank webpage

U-Multirank gender monitor page

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