Harvard has named Drew Gilpin Faust as its 28th president. Faust has since 2001 been the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Last year, Larry Summers had a turbulent exit as Harvard president. This was caused mainly by a speech he held at NBER, early 2005. In trying to explain why there were more men than women in high-end science and engineering positions, he suggested that it might be related to ability and/or preference.
The new Harvard president seems to be the opposite of her predecessor. Richard Bradley, author of “Harvard Rules: Lawrence Summers and the Battle for the World’s Most Powerful University” illustrates this in Newsweek:

It’s hard not to look at Faust in the context of the Summers presidency. Summers got in trouble for his remarks about women in science and mathematics; Faust is, of course, a woman. Summers was never considered a great booster of the humanities; Faust is a historian. Summer’s governing style was-how can I put it nicely?—aggressive; Faust is said to be much more of a consensus builder. Even though Summers had taught at Harvard, he’d been gone for about a decade and was effectively a Harvard outsider; Faust was an internal candidate. So in almost every instance, if Summers was X, Faust is Y.

Faust is the first female president of Harvard and she is the fourth female president of an Ivy League University (Judith Roddin was the first in 1994). If we look at the top 10 universities in the world (according to THES), we can see that after the appointment of Faust, the top of the academic world is now led by women, with Drew Gilpin Faust and Alison Richard of Cambridge occupying poisitions one and two. MIT and Princeton (4 and 10) are led by Susan Hockfield and Shirley Tilghman. The rest is still led by male presidents, and so are the universities ranked 11-20.

1 Harvard University – Derek Bok / Drew Gilpin Faust
2 University of Cambridge –
Alison Richard
3 University of Oxford –
John Hood
4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology –
Susan Hockfield
4 Yale University –
Richard C. Levin
6 Stanford University –
John Hennessy
7 California Institute of Technology –
Jean-Lou Chameau
8 University of California, Berkeley –
Robert J. Birgeneau
9 Imperial College London –
Sir Richard Sykes
10 Princeton University – Shirley M. Tilghman

In Australia 9 out of the 38 Vice-Chancellors are now women (in 2003 there were 11), which is almost a quarter. In the UK, I think it’s only around 10%, while in the Netherlands the situation is outright embarrassing. None of the Rectors – the academic leaders – of the universities are women and as far as I know only 1 out of the 13 chairmen of the Universities’ executive boards (the executive leaders), is actually a chairwoman…

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