Breaking the glass ceiling: conversations with women leaders in academia

The latest global gender report developed by Elsevier shows that despite an overall increase in the representation of women in all scientific fields, gender parity is closer amongst younger researchers but tends to diminish at senior levels. This is also correlated with a tendency for women to cease to publish earlier than men. The 2021 SHE Figures only confirm this disparity and highlight women’s underrepresentation at the highest positions of academia. At the European level, the percentage of full professorship positions increased only slightly from 2015 to 2018, from 24.1% to 26.2%, while men were twice as likely to hold similar level positions. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that the European University Association – the largest university association in Europe - disclosed in a report published last year that, among its 850 members, less than a fifth of university leaders are women. While in some countries, like Norway or Iceland, women represent more than 41% of university leaders, in others, like Italy and the Czech Republic, less than 10% of universities are led by female rectors or presidents. At the same time, more and more women are climbing the ladder, almost reaching the top, with the proportion of female vice-rectors increasing by 24% since 2014. Still, they represent less than a third of vice-rectors in EUA members.

This podcast series, brought to you by Science|Business, the Elsevier Foundation and the European Women Rectors Association (EWORA), features 15 prominent women rectors or presidents, whose voice will greatly contribute to showcasing the state of affairs of university leadership in Europe and inspire the next generation of female academics and scientists aiming for the top.