The Art of Hiring Female Leaders

Higher education could learn a lot from the arts sector about recruiting senior women. Part-time roles and job-shares could be game-changers, says Joanna Read. 

When I became principal of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda) in 2010, much was made of the academy’s first female appointment to its top job. Yet coming from a theatre background, it seemed to me to be a non-story. My only comment was: “About bloody time.”

Compared with higher education, the arts are progressive in terms of promoting women. According to research commissioned in 2015 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, 37 per cent of galleries receiving annual funding of more than £1 million from Arts Council England are run by women. The same research also revealed that women lead 40 per cent of Scotland’s best-funded galleries and 50 per cent of those in Wales.

In comparison, a report by Women Count, published in April 2016, found that less than one-fifth of senior leadership roles in UK universities are held by women. However, if you look to the small specialist performing arts institutions, it’s a different story: the majority are led by women. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

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Source: Joanna Read -