(AP) The University of Alabama Birmingham is launching a network to help advance women leaders in higher education. Officials say the new Alabama Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education is part of the American Council on Education Women's Network, a national system that identifies leaders in higher education and links them to support and development networks.

Founding member Janelle M. Chiasera, Ph.D, professor in the School of Health Professions and chair of the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences said that research data supports the need for networks focused on the development and advancement of women leaders because, while public perception is that people are overwhelmingly comfortable with women as leaders, only 26 percent of all college and university presidents are women. She added, “This issue is not unique to higher education; this is a common finding across all sectors, including business, film and television, journalism, law, the military, nonprofits, politics, religion, and sports.”

According to UAB News, in its 2009 Benchmarking Women’s Leadership report, The White House Project recommended a critical mass of one-third or more women in leadership positions, claiming that this is essential for implementing and maintaining the changes recommended. In the 2013 report, women in leadership roles across 14 sectors were studied. This new study revealed that, across the 14 sectors, on average women held under 20 percent of leadership positions and earned just 78 percent of what their male counterparts earned.

Funny that we live in a society that shows appreciation for the innovation and qualities of women leaders, although the percentage of women in leadership positions pales in comparison to that of men; and even in such cases, women are paid less. So, a network where female professionals can not only recognize each other but also assist in creating a pathway for other such upcoming leaders is outstanding and should aid