In board member circles, the glass ceiling seems to have all but disappeared. It used to be less customary, but by now a lot of women have made their way to the top of Dutch higher education.

Out of 36 universities of applied sciences, eighteen have a woman for board president and eighteen a man. So it’s exactly fifty-fifty. Looking at their fellow board members, this equality hasn’t been accomplished yet: we counted sixteen women and thirty men. This includes a few interim board members.

Six out of the fourteen research universities have a woman for president and the same number have a woman for rector. In total, the boards feature nineteen women and 22 men. Out of the eight men presidents, two simultaneously hold the rectorship.

Other countries

Compared to other countries, there are a lot of women in board rooms. British education journal Times Higher Education looked at the top 200 of its world ranking and counted fifty women board presidents. That’s one quarter.


Out of the 56 top-tier American universities, fifteen have a woman as their chief executive (27 percent). The same goes for nine out of twenty-five British universities (36 percent).

tabel man-vrouw bestuursleden HOP EN