In Higher Education, Fewer Women Graduate To CIO

Plenty of women hold leadership positions in higher education technology departments. So why is the percentage of females in the CIO seat declining?

Wayne A. Brown, Contributor

June 18, 2013

3 Min Read

12 Open Educational Resources: From Khan to MIT

12 Open Educational Resources: From Khan to MIT

12 Open Educational Resources: From Khan to MIT (click image for slideshow)

The TLs were also asked who is in charge when the CIO is out of the office. Among the males, 23% said they are in charge, 34% said the role is rotated among staff, and 43% said they are not in charge. In comparison, 20% of the female TLs said they are in charge, 28% said the role is rotated, and 52% said they are not in charge. This difference in on-the-job training may be having an impact on the female TLs' preparation for the CIO role.

The individual's degree and major have also been important factors for the higher education CIO. The TLs are getting the message, as the percentage of TLs with advanced degrees continued to climb. The percentage of female TLs with advanced degrees was 74% versus 62% of the male TLs. This difference will have a negative impact on male TLs who aspire to the CIO role, especially when you consider that 95% of the institution management team (IMT), other VPs and presidents said that the higher education CIO should have an advanced degree.

In addition, 24% of the male TLs and 30% of the female TLs have bachelor's degrees, 1% of females and 7% of males have associate's degrees, and only 1% of the males and females have a high school or equivalent degree.

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There was less consensus about what major a CIO should have. The majority of CIOs have degree majors from five areas -- technology, business, education, leadership/management and administration. The TLs also claimed the majority of their majors from these same five majors.

Seventy percent of the male TLs had these majors, versus 68% of the female TLs. The one major that stood out was technology, where 38% of the male TLs have a major versus 20% of the female TLs. This could be a significant difference, considering that 51% of the IMTs indicated a technology major was required for the CIO role.

Tech Leader Degree Majors

Tech Leader Degree Majors

Tech Leader Degree Majors

Overall, there are differences between the TLs' genders that might have an impact on their ability to be competitive for a CIO position. The male TLs without an advanced degree will not be competitive for the CIO job, and more of them indicated they had no one helping them as a mentor. The differences in female TL mentoring by their own CIO, leadership OJT opportunities and the technology major could play a part in the continued downward trend for the percentage of CIOs who are women. There might also be a time delay between some of the positive trends seen in the research and a change in the percentage of CIOs who are women.

We'll continue to explore the subject over the next couple of years and look for changes. The CIO report and the accompanying technology leader report will be available from Center for Higher Education CIO Studies (CHECS) in late June.

About the Author(s)

Wayne  A.  Brown


Wayne A. Brown is the founder of the Center for Higher Education Chief Information Officer Studies Inc, a non profit organization focused on contributing to the education and development of higher education CIOs. His longitudinal CIO effectiveness research has been published in EDUCAUSE Quarterly and EDUCAUSE Review, Public CIO, Leadership Abstracts, Campus Technology, and Gartner reports.

Wayne also serves as the Vice President for Extended Education at Excelsior College in Albany, NY. Prior to his current role, Wayne was the first Vice President for Information Technology at Excelsior College. Prior to joining Excelsior, he was the Executive Vice President for Administration at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS. Brown is a retired US Air Force officer. He holds a Ph.D. in Computing Technology in Education from Nova Southeastern University and a Master’s of Business Administration with an emphasis in computer information systems from Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas.

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