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Penn president Liz Magill was inaugurated in October 2022 as the University's 9th President and 4th female President.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Beginning this fall, 11 of the 2022 Forbes top 20 United States universities — including Penn — will be led by a woman or person of color, according to a new Forbes article.

The ten other universities besides Penn include MIT, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, Brown, Rice University, Williams College, and University of California at San Diego. 

Six of the eight Ivy League Universities will be led by a woman starting this fall. This year will mark the first time in the history of the Ivy League that so many women will serve as President, according to Forbes

Penn has been led by a woman or person of color since 1993 when Claire Muriel Mintzer Fagin was appointed interim president. Penn’s current president, Liz Magill, was inaugurated in October 2022 as the University's 9th President and 4th female President. 

Earlier this year, former Wharton professor Nemat “Minouche” Shafik was slated to become the 20th President of Columbia University. She will be the first female and person of color to hold the presidency in the university's history.

A decade ago, of the current Forbes ranked top 20 universities, only five had a woman or person of color serving as the President, reported Forbes. 

While progress has been made, there are still racial and gender leadership gaps in major university presidencies. 

“The upcoming composition of leaders for America’s elite universities prompts a question of perspective: Is the glass ceiling half cracked or half intact?” Forbes wrote

A report conducted by the Eos Foundation, in partnership with the American Association of University Women, found that of 130 public and private universities, only 22% had women in the president position, and only 5% of presidents are women of color.

Additionally, the report found that while women make up 39% of academic deans and 38% of provosts, 60 of the universities surveyed have never had a female president. 

The report interviewed dozens of women working to become chief executive officers in a number of industries who had similar experiences. 

“Women feel they must meet 100%+ of the traditional qualifications to be selected, even as they watch men take a shorter path, in effect a 'glass elevator' to the top, based on potential,” the Eos Foundation report said.