Gender Equality in Higher Education – an International Conference Explores Leadership

The European Women Rectors Association (EWORA) has announced its 8th conference set to take place on November 2-3, 2023, in Istanbul, Turkey. The event, co-organized by EWORA, Istanbul Technical University ARI Technopark, and Kadir Has University, boasts a special focus on “Global Female Leadership and the Future of Universities.” It also marks the 15th anniversary of the European Women Rectors Conference Series


The primary objective of this conference is to bring together female leaders in universities and research organizations, gender experts, and members of higher education networks to deliberate and strategize on enhancing gender equality and inclusivity in the European Research Area (ERA).

The journey toward gender equality in academia has been a lengthy one, with numerous milestones along the way. The series of European Women Rectors Conferences began in 2008 under the theme Women Academics Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Women Rectors across Europe. Hosted by Istanbul Technical University, this inaugural conference initiated a platform for the exchange of experiences and ideas to dismantle barriers that impede women’s progress both horizontally and vertically in the academic hierarchy.

Since that time, the conferences have united leaders from academia, the private sector, political figures, policymakers, and experts from all over the world, paving the way for a collaborative approach to address gender disparities in higher education. While progress has undoubtedly been made, it has been noted that the advancement of gender equality, especially at senior levels, has been disappointingly slow. The event aims to go beyond acknowledging these disparities and to identify solutions. Participants will delve into real-world experiences, examining successes, challenges, and opportunities that women rectors and senior leaders encounter in their roles. Furthermore, they will discuss methodologies that could be employed to enhance their effectiveness and performance as leaders within the academic community.

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One prevalent issue highlighted by the She Figures 2021 report is the continued underrepresentation of women in senior leadership positions in higher education and research. This conference intends to scrutinize these findings to bridge the gap between policy intentions and the reality of gender balance in academia.

Crucially, the conference will ask and explore the question: What will universities of the future look like? It will emphasize the pivotal role of women in leadership positions in shaping this future. An in-depth analysis of developments in gender equality over the past 15 years will serve as a backdrop for developing strategies aimed at challenging gender disparities and accelerating the advancement of women in top-level university administration.

This year’s event will also feature a grand Gala as a part of the Mediterranean Researchers’ Night, to present the selection of 11 scientists, the Mediterranean Science Team, to the public and the media. It seeks to promote scientific unity among the 23 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, receiving support from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program

The 8th European Women Rectors Conference promises to be an insightful and action-oriented event, inviting leaders, experts, and stakeholders to join forces in the quest for gender equality in higher education leadership. By celebrating 15 years of dedicated gatherings, the conference underscores the continued importance of the gender equality agenda and the vital role women play in shaping the future of academia. The goal of this event is to foster a deeper understanding of gender challenges in academia, transcending regional boundaries and fostering a united approach to drive meaningful change.