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Senior Leaders in CCCU Institutions: Gender

posted Dec 16, 2011, 6:19 PM by Greg Smith   [ updated Dec 17, 2011, 2:58 PM ]
My preliminary analysis of gender distribution among senior leaders of CCCU member schools has yielded some fruitful observations. Of the 811 incumbents identified by name in my research, I found that 79% were men (n=637) and just 21% were women (n=174). The administrative circle within this segment of Christian higher education is clearly dominated by men. However, that generalization obscures nuances of reality. The fact is that the prevalence of male incumbents varied substantially by position level and administrative purview. In addition, there were some differences in the educational attainments of male and female administrators considered in this study.

On the matter of position level, I found that the proportion of women increased in inverse proportion to a power continuum. In other words, the lower-ranking the position category, the more likely it was to be occupied by a woman (see Chart 1). Female presidents were extremely uncommon, being found in just 4% of schools. Other powerful posts, such as provosts and executive VPs, and indeed most standard VP positions, were also male-dominated (75%+). Positions of lesser power--identified by labels such as dean, director, and the assistant/associate variants of more powerful positions--were held by women in 32-40% of cases.

Chart 1. Gender Distribution by Position Level
Chart 1 - Gender Distribution by Position Level

The distribution of men and women also varied among the various administrative specializations (see Chart 2). The paucity of female administrators with purview over the entire institution (presidents, provosts, etc.) has already been noted. Oversight of information technology operations was even more male-dominated, with 93% of incumbents being identified as men. Advancement and spiritual life functions were also largely staffed by men. Women were most likely to fulfill leadership roles in the areas of marketing/communication (43%) and general administration (40%). The traditional cabinet roles of academic, student, and financial affairs were held by women in roughly one-quarter of cases.

Chart 2. Gender Distribution by Function
Chart 2 - Gender Distribution by Administrative Function

Finally, my initial analysis revealed that male and female administrators differed somewhat in their educational attainments. Administrator credentials were readily available for about two-thirds of the institutions included in the study. Across the 540 or so officer profiles that listed their academic degrees, males were found to have earned both master's and doctoral degrees at higher rates than their female counterparts (see Table 1).

Table 1. Educational Attainments by Gender

1+ Master's Degree(s)
 1+ Doctoral Degree(s)
 Females 75% 41%
 Males 80% 57%

In presenting these preliminary findings, I'd like to solicit reader feedback on a couple of key counts. First, I'm interested to know how various readers respond to the findings--what interpretations they might attach to the data. Second, I'd be pleased if anyone can point me to sources of data that might establish a comparative framework for what I've presented here. In other words, I'm curious to know how the gender profile of CCCU administrators diverges from the norm within North American higher education. Comments are welcomed below or via the site's contact form.