HAMDEN — Julia Fullick-Jagiela chairs the management department at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business.
The Cheshire resident is one of a growing group of women in higher education looking to advance further into educational leadership.
She recently completed a program in Colorado, called the HERS Institute. It is geared toward closing the gap between the numbers of men and women who serve in leadership roles across higher education.
“It’s always been a passion project of mine,” Fullick-Jagiela said. “There are not enough women in academia, despite the fact that there are more women getting undergraduate and graduate degrees...We aren’t seeing that similarity in faculty and staff profiles, especially at the administrative level. I think a lot of women see administration as unattainable because it doesn’t allow you the flexibility to be there for your family.”
National data, compiled by the American Council on Education, shows a gap remains in the percentage of women serving as leaders — about 30 percent of the chief executives at colleges and universities nationwide are women.
The New England Commission of Higher Education accredits colleges and universities across the six-state region. In Connecticut, NECHE has accredited 22 bachelor’s degree granting institutions. Eight of those institutions are led by women, according to an analysis of NECHE’s profiles for each institution.
The HERS Institute program was 12 days.
“It covers everything from budgets to managing faculty, looking at curriculum, enrollment, advancing women in academia techniques and how to find opportunities for advancement,” Fullick-Jagiela said.
She enjoyed the solidarity. HERS Institute participants, all 63 of them, come from different backgrounds and experiences.
“We’re in these leadership roles now. How do we pull somebody with us?” Fullick-Jagiela said, explaining the importance of using one’s own privilege to “get somebody to the table that needs to be there.”
Fullick-Jagiela, who was hired at Quinnipiac in 2013, was appointed as co-director of the People’s United Center for Women & Business last year and became chair of Quinnipiac’s management department that same year.
For another leader at another institution, Jane Gates, the path toward educational leadership is one more than 30 years in the making. Gates is currently provost and senior vice president for academic and student affairs for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, which includes Central, Eastern, Southern and Western state universities and the state’s community colleges.
Gates wasn’t a HERS participant, but like Fullick-Jagiela, she recognizes the importance of creating leadership opportunities for women and people of color in higher education.
Gates started out in academics as an instructor, before slowly ascending to her current position, which reports to the CSCU system’s president, Mark E. Ojakian.
She didn’t set out to become an administrator in higher education.
“I was very much interested in maybe becoming a lawyer,” Gates said. Her career ambitions changed when she was recruited by a dean at the school where she earned her bachelor’s degree to return as a teacher.
Gates said she believes one reason fewer women move into full professorships or administration is in part because their academic work tends to be more focused on advising students and less on research.
“We need to review promotion and tenure standard policies,” Gates said. “ We need to put weight on advising, or we can consider adding another career ladder track.”
On another campus, the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Laura Burton is a professor of sports management in the Neag School of Education. Like Gates, she did not attend the HERS Institute, but she has long been interested in tackling gender equity issues, especially those in sports and higher education.
“I think overall there is still inequity at the higher levels of education,” Burton said, adding there are still “definitely a lot more men than women at the full professor level.”
“I think there is still a ways to go,” she said. “I think we’ve named the problem. Now we can’t go back. We need to continue to support women’s advancement into leadership positions.”
Fullick-Jagiela is hopeful that change will come. Quinnipiac already has quite a few women in leadership roles.
“Sixty percent of our students are women,” she said. “So for them to be able to see themselves in our senior leaders is very important.”