GED: Women and Leadership ‘The Absent Revolution’

10-11 February 2015, Delhi


This dialogue will:

  • Present the research findings from “Women in Higher Education Leadership in South Asia”, a British Council report in collaboration with the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER), University of Sussex.
  • Draw upon knowledge from the global academy and other sectors on how women have succeeded in overcoming barriers to leadership.
  • Discuss the importance of networks as a key to success – and why they fail. 
  • Discuss enabling inclusivity and diversity within leadership as a key element of institutional culture change.
  • Identify specific actions and interventions for change.

The under-representation of women in influential and senior leadership positions in the global academy is a global challenge. A key question is whether women are being rejected as leaders or are refusing and resisting leadership positions in higher education.

Participation in Education for women is now approaching parity with men at both secondary and undergraduate level (and in some countries surpassing men). Yet this has not translated into senior appointments and leadership positions in education institutions globally.

In Higher Education for example, only 3 per cent of women are Vice-Chancellors in South Asia and in the UK only 17%. This inequity of access and opportunity is mirrored across the leadership spectrum from young researchers, senior administrators, professorships, Vice Chancellors and Chancellorships.

Whilst women are beginning to break the glass ceilings in all sectors of industry (even those in traditionally male preserves of manufacturing, IT and engineering), scaling the ivory towers is still seen as precarious and the preserve of men.

The social and economic benefits of a more inclusive and diverse leadership team have been well articulated. South Asia is experiencing a large sector expansion, which requires a new generation of academics and leaders, without perpetuating and reproducing the present inequalities, absences and exclusions.


  • Strategic and/or executive decision-makers from government, education or business and have the authority to enact change or policy.
  • Internationally recognised experts, senior researchers and education leaders with an interest in the series themes.
  • Entrepreneurs, business and industrial leaders with an interest in education and employability.

Participants will be from the UK, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran and invited participants from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Germany, France, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, USA and further afield. 


Please contact Vishu Sharma, Senior Project Manager, Internationalising Higher Education, British Council Delhi on

In order to look at the tentative programme, please download the Word doc available in the download library section at the end of this page. You can also view more information about the Global Education Dialogues South Asia series 2015 in the below PDF file.