Leadership structures of major international organizations

an exploration of gender and regional disparities

Shazia K. Jan, Moosung Lee, Keri Chui

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter we explore gender and regional disparities in leadership positions in major international organizations. To this end, we conducted data mining of the Yearbook of International Organizations 2007-2008, the largest database of profiles of high-ranking officials in international organizations ranging from intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations. Findings indicate that significant gender and regional disparities exist in leadership positions; the vast majority of global leaders in the organizations were males, mostly educated in Western-based universities. Given the increasing influence of international organizations on various global issues, our findings enable us to question whether key international organizations equitably represent all people by developing and implementing the best policies for all people. Our findings also suggest that these organizations' hiring and promotion practices need to be better understood, given that certain types of human resources (males educated in top Western-based universities) appear to be selectively appreciated, preferred, and accepted as leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRacially and ethnically diverse women leading education
Subtitle of host publicationa worldview
EditorsTerri N. Watson, Anthony H. Normore
Place of PublicationBingley, UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781786350718
ISBN (Print)9781786350725
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in Educational Administration
ISSN (Print)1479-3660


  • disparity in leadership position
  • educational background
  • gender
  • international organizations
  • regions

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    Jan, S. K., Lee, M., & Chui, K. (2017). Leadership structures of major international organizations: an exploration of gender and regional disparities. In T. N. Watson, & A. H. Normore (Eds.), Racially and ethnically diverse women leading education: a worldview (pp. 23-34). (Advances in Educational Administration; Vol. 25). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-366020160000025002