University, the higher you go up in the hierarchy, the fewer women you find

There are more women with degrees than men but then they can’t find work

Only 2 out of 92 Italian universities have a woman in the position of Director General and Rectorthe two top positions. On the other hand, there are 59 universities in which two men coexist in the positions of General Manager and Rector.

This is what emerges from the fifth report of Discovery, the Talents Venture database entitled “Gender equality. From degree courses to the governance of universities”, where it is underlined that the higher you go in the hierarchical pyramid within the universities, there is a lower presence of women than male colleagues.

“Although the presence of women at the top of the academic staff has been increasing in recent years, we are still far from true gender equality. Thanks to some historical, generational and cultural factors, women, although they represent the majority of degreesare still underrepresented in the highest offices of Italian universities”, declares Pier Giorgio Bianchi, CEO and Co-Founder of Talents Venture.

The presence of women in the university world

In 2022 women accounted for the 57% of those who graduated. Some universities stand out for female participation: Siena Foreigners (in which 87% of those who graduate are female graduates), Reggio Calabria – Dante Alighieri (87%) and Naples Benincasa (86%). The universities most biased towards men are instead Link Campus (72% of male graduates), the Turin Polytechnic (69%) and Rome Foro Italico (68%).

A particularly interesting aspect in relation to the labor market regards the female presence in the STEM courses (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which offer the best employment prospects. From the report it still follows excessively reduced female presence in courses that train this type of skills. In particular, in computer science and ICT (information and communications technology) courses, women represent 17% of graduates, and in engineering courses, 26% (just 12% in master’s degree courses in mechanical engineering).

Among those who obtain a PhD, female participation decreases significantly: women represent 49% of new PhDs, compared to 57% of those who obtain a degree.

Going up the university pyramid, the gender gap widens: women represent only 41% of the academic staff. More specifically, 50% of permanent researchers, 41% of second level professors and just the 26% among full professors.

In terms of governance, only 11 universities out of 92 have a Rector, 12% of the total. And among these, only two universities have a woman to hold both the position of Director General and Rector, namely La Sapienza in Rome and the University of Valle D’Aosta. On the contrary, in 59 universities both top positions are held by a man.

Talents Venture created theGlobal Gender Equality Index (Igpg), a summary measure designed to evaluate the overall gender balance of each university. The index is calculated on the basis of the shares of women and men in 4 categories: graduates, PhDs, teaching staff and technical/administrative staff. Below is the ranking of the three universities with the highest and lowest Igpg, broken down by university size. In the ranking, the University of Messina emerges as the Italian university with the highest value in the Global Gender Equality Index.

Gender wage differences

The disparities are not only reflected in the presence, but also in the salaries of women in the academic field. Although, as we have seen, they represent the majority of graduates, women are the ones entering the labor market penalized in terms of wages regardless of the subject in which they graduate: the average net monthly salary one year after the master’s degree (specialist or single cycle) for men is 1,485 euros, that of women of 1,283 euros.

The report points out that there is not even a single subject in which salary differences do not penalize female graduates. The most marked salary differences are recorded between graduates in the “Psychology” and “Social-Political and Communication” fields, in which, one year after graduation, women receive an average salary 15% lower than that of men fellow men.

Therefore, there is still much to be done to reduce gender disparity in academia. To this end, Carlo Valdes, Economist and Business Data Manager who coordinated the Talents Venture report indicates two operational strategies: “The first is increase the participation of women in STEM degree courses, studying specific first-level guidance initiatives in high schools. The second is to improve the employment results of courses with a high female participation (in particular, those in the subjects of education, training and psychology). To do this – concludes Valdes – we need to study special agreements with companies and to ensure that modern and work-oriented teachings are imparted in these courses, capable of assuring new graduates greater bargaining power in entering the labor market”.