Women Leaders in Higher Education

Women Leaders in Higher Education

Funded by Advance HE, the aims of this project were to explore and report on Higher Education Institutions' (HEIs) mechanisms for supporting both current and aspiring women leaders.

Exploring mechanisms for support of current & aspiring women leaders
Funding Body
Advance HE
Award Value
Start Date
May 2018
End Date
August 2018
4 months

This included:

  • how institutions are working with Aurora alumnae and current Aurora participants
  • how institutions support women in other ways, prior to or complementary to Aurora
  • what support is available outside of involvement with Aurora

The project sought to explore both the perspectives of current and aspiring women leaders, and higher education institutions, with regard to support mechanisms available.

Project aims

The project aims were designed to benefit the higher education sector and Advance HE members through the generation of data and findings that can inform policy and highlight best practice, to address the support mechanisms needed to develop current and aspiring women leaders within HEIs.


Views and experiences were obtained through two online surveys, one specific to women working in HEIs and the other to HEIs located in the UK. Additionally, a ‘talking wall’ workshop was held at the Aurora Conference 2018 with participants from a variety of backgrounds, including academic and professional support staff in both University leadership roles and at the start of their leadership careers. This explored the value of leadership training for women in HE, how it might be improved and their own experiences of such training. Information produced by the surveys and material from the workshop are detailed in the final report.

Project findings

The findings reported represent the views and experiences of current and aspiring women leaders in a range of disciplinary and institutional contexts: STEM and non-STEM disciplines; academic and administrative posts; pre- and post-1992 universities, and the diverse and varied populations of women working in HEIs, reflecting the protected characteristic groups. They also represent the views of higher education institutions with regard to support mechanisms and resources available for the advancement of current and aspiring women leaders.


Publication: Diack, L., Pedersen, S., MacLennan, S., Falconer, M., Gillibrand, E., McFadyen, M. and Watson, A. 2019. Support for current and aspiring women leaders: an exploration of UK higher education institutions' responses. London: Advance-HE [online].



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