What the data tells us about diversity in international school teaching staff and leadership
What the data tells us about diversity in international school teaching staff and leadership
Alejandra Neyra CIS Data Analyst and BI Manager


By Alejandra Neyra, CIS Data Analyst and BI Manager



We’re always looking for ways to use data to help solve challenges facing our membership community. And our work to foster greater inclusion across our global community via diversity, equity and anti-racism (I-DEA) continues at pace. One way we are linking these two priorities is to share our data analysis expertise via strategic partnerships, most recently to determine diversity baseline data in international schools.

Together with the Diversity Collaborative, International School Services, and George Mason University, we set out to survey international schools worldwide, collecting data on gender, nationality, and ethnicity of board members, heads of schools, leadership teams, and teachers.

Our objective was to answer these questions:

  • Are international school boards, heads of schools, leadership teams and teachers balanced in terms of gender?
  • How culturally diverse are international school boards, heads of schools, leadership teams and teachers?
  • Which groups are represented? Which groups are underrepresented?

Who was included in the survey?

The survey was distributed to CIS member schools and via a broad range of accreditation agencies and international school professional associations in April and May this year. We received 175 responses.

What did we find?

High level findings: Significantly more teachers in international schools are female than male. However, three times as many heads of international schools are male than female. And leadership teams are overrepresented by white people from Western countries (US, Canada, UK). (In this analysis, a person is considered ‘white’ if they have origins in any of the original people of Europe.)

Other key findings:


Analysis of this survey sample shows that females are underrepresented in governing boards of international schools. Board members are on average 60% male and 40% female. Furthermore, 75% of the schools have a male head, leading to a gender ratio three times more male than female in this role. Leadership team composition is on average 52% male and 48% female. And, 29% of teachers are male and 61% are female on average.

Summarising, women are underrepresented in governing boards and as heads of international schools while they are overrepresented as teachers. Women and men are equally represented witin leadership teams.

The difference between male and female is statistically significant (p < 0.001) for board members, heads of schools and teachers. The difference is not statistically significant for leadership teams.

Primary nationality

Nationalities were identified and grouped as Western and Non-Western countries. Here, a ‘Western country‘ is defined as a developed country that has a predominently Western culture. This includes Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.


Within all stakeholder groups, the most highly represented nationalities are those of the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Among governing board members, Western and Non-Western countries are equally represented. For all other stakeholders groups, Western countries have a higher representation. Only 11% of heads of schools are from Non-Western countries. Within leadership teams, only 26% are from Non-Western countries.

63% of participating schools indicated that their leadership team included educators from the country where the school is located. This percentage is highest for schools located in Europe (at 71%) and lowest in Latin America (57%).

In this sample, on average three to four nationalities are represented in leadership teams. On average, 10 nationalities are represented among teachers, and 31% of these nationalities are from Non-Western countries.


Members from a white ethnic group have a higher representation among heads of school and leadership teams. The analysis shows that 84% of heads of school and 74% of those on leadership teams are white. The ethnicity of board members is dependent on where the schools is located. For example, schools located in Asia have mainly Asian board members with the next highest representation being white board members, while for schools located in other regions, white board members are the most highly represented. Findings show that white and non-white teachers tend to be equally represented.

Summarizing, people having ethnic origins in Europe are the most highly represented among board members, heads of school, leadership teams and teachers. Heads of schools and leadership teams evidence the least ethnic diversity.


What can you do to help?

Analysis from this project provides significant insights into gender equality and cultural diversity in international schools, showing us that considerable effort is required to foster gender equality and cultural diversity. The more people who participate in these surveys, the more trends we will be able to identify and the more solutions we can unearth and pathways we can forge for greater equity across our community.


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We recognise that identifying where to start on your school's journey to inclusion via diversity, equity & anti-racism (I-DEA), and how to take action, can be challenging. This workshop is designed to support and guide you.

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What the data tells us about diversity in international school teaching staff and leadership