Powerful Women in Education

By Anne Vickman | Boston Magazine |

High-ranking job posts in education have mostly belonged to men. But between 1986 and 2006, the percentage of female presidents in higher education more than doubled, from 9.5 to 23, thanks in no small part to some of the Hub’s most brilliant women. Start with SUSAN HOCKFIELD, the neuroscientist chosen in 2004 as MIT’s first female president.

Then there’s DREW GILPIN FAUST, named Harvard’s first female president — an arguably poetic replacement for Larry Summers, who, of course, once said that the reason women aren’t well represented in the sciences was possibly “intrinsic aptitude” differences between the sexes.

Meanwhile, outside the ivory tower, Boston Public Schools superintendent CAROL JOHNSON is one of the biggest decision-makers when it comes to our kids’ futures. Since taking over in 2007, she’s delivered an aggressive five-year plan to better prep students for graduation and college and improve relations among schools and neighborhood groups. And faced with a $63 million shortfall last year, she made the tough, controversial choice to close nine schools in order to prevent drastic program cuts across the entire district.