University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Women in charge at best-ranked universities

Come July, for the first time, more women than men will be leading the absolute top of ranked universities.

Four out of the top five universities in the world will soon be headed by a woman.

This is according to Times Higher Education (THE) and based on numbers from their World University Rankings for 2023. The information has been timed to mark International Women’s Day this Wednesday 8 March.

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Both Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will have female managers when Claudine Gay takes up her position at Harvard and Deborah Prentice takes up her position at Cambridge. They both start in July. Stanford University is thereby the only university in the World University Ranking’s top five that is not headed by a woman.

Universities »still need to do more«

Nearly a quarter, 48 of the world’s top 200 universities on the ranking, have female presidents or vice-chancellors, up from 43 last year.

»It’s amazing to see that four of the top five universities in the world will shortly be led by women. They will be an inspiration to their staff, students and other universities around the world,« says THE rankings editor Rosa Ellis, adding that universities still need to do more to advance women’s roles at the top of universities and in all of its outputs.

The World University Ranking methodology traditionally gives a higher rank to Anglo-American institutions than other rankings, so it is interesting to see how women fare in non-Anglo-American institutions: Within the top 200, five German universities are headed by women, three more than last year, according to THE. This includes the University of Tübingen, the University of Freiburg and the Technical University of Berlin.

Only RUC headed by a woman in Denmark

None of the three top-ranked Danish universities on the World University Rankings – the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the Technical University of Denmark – are headed by women.

Of the four remaining university institutions in Denmark, only Roskilde University (RUC) has a woman manager in the form of its rector Hanne Leth Andersen.