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Women's Colleges Ahead in Educating First Gen, Lower Income Students

January 16, 2014
Women's college presidents to share their expertise about serving first generation and post traditional students at today's White House summit

DECATUR, GA. (January 16, 2014) -- Today's White House higher education summit will focus, in part, on improving access to higher education for lower-income and first-generation students, and it’s no surprise that five women’s college presidents will be on hand to lend their support.

Women's colleges have educated a higher percentage of low-income, racially diverse and first-generation students than traditional co-ed colleges and universities, public or private, for more than a decade. The presidents of Smith, Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Spelman and Scripps Colleges-- all members of the Women's College Coalition-- will attend today’s White House Summit in support of President Obama's goal to improve college access and success for lower-income and first generation students.

"The nearly fifty U.S. women’s colleges across the country are proud to be leaders in the effort to help more Americans get to and through college," said Elizabeth Kiss, chair of the Women's College Coalition board and president of Agnes Scott College. "As a sector, we enroll a higher percentage of low-income students and first-generation students – and our member institutions do a superb job of helping these students aim high and succeed. We are eager to join forces with the President, policy-makers of both parties and the higher education community in shaping this vitally important national conversation about our future."

Women's colleges are more likely to enroll students who identify as African American (26.9 percent), American Indian (3.3 percent), and "other" race/ethnicity (4.6 percent), and are second only to public universities in the proportion of Chicano/Latino students enrolled (14.2 percent), according to a 2012 study from the Women’s College Coalition (WCC).

Compared to women at other institutions, women’s college attendees are more likely than women at co-ed colleges and universities to report that their mothers and fathers did not attend college, according to the WCC study. They also have, on average, lower family incomes, with the median family income for women’s college students being approximately $84,000, compared to $126,000 for women attending coeducational private universities.

Spelman President Beverly Tatum wins a Carnegie Corporation award


Spelman President Beverly Tatum
Beverly Tatum President Spelman College

December 9, 2013

Congratulations to Spelman President Beverly Tatum! Yesterday, the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded her with one of four 2013 Academic Leadership Awards. Established in 2005, the award honors university presidents who are resourceful administrators and who also exhibit an avid interest in the liberal arts. Other award winners were Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University; John Hennessy, president of Stanford University; and Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University.

This is Beverly’s interview on 12/9 on the PBS NewsHour.

We all bask in the glow of this recognition of Beverly Tatum and Spelman’s commitment to excellence in women’s education.

Mount Holyoke President Picked for NCAA Division III Board


Lynn Pasquerella
Lynn Pasquerella - President Mount Holyoke College

Contributor: Susan Kaplan
Posted: November 29, 2013

Click here to listen to Susan Kaplan's interview with Lynn Pasquerella

In college athletics, Division I teams garner much of the attention, money and scandal associated with the NCAA. That leads to a spillover into the governance of smaller programs in Divisions II and III. That's according to Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella, who was recently appointed to the NCAA Division III board.

Pasquerella, who is a medical ethicist, says a solution to a Division I problem does not always make sense for schools like Mount Holyoke.

Women lag in leadership roles, CEO earnings, new national report shows

TheDenver Post

Lynn Gangone
Lynn Gangone is dean of the Colorado Women's College at the University of Denver, which conducted a study called "Benchmarking Women's Leadership in the United States." (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Roxane White, chief of staff to Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

By:Colleen O'Connor, The Denver Post
Posted: 11/10/2013 12:01:00 AM MST
Source: The Denver Post

At the highest levels of the American workforce, less than 20 percent of the top leadership jobs are held by women, according to a new national study, which found that women, on average, earn less than men in comparable jobs while, by some measures, outperforming them.

"The leadership landscape is so lopsided," said Lynn Gangone, dean of Colorado Women's College at the University of Denver, which conducted the study, "Benchmarking Women's Leadership in the United States."

"Part of the message in this report is to say, 'What can we do together, men and women, to change?' Because everything out there, even internationally, says that unless we bring diverse voices to the table, we are not going to solve the complex problems of the 21st century."

Another national report, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in October, found that women remain disadvantaged in terms of pay and promotion: In 2012, for example, women, on average, made 81 percent of the average earnings of male workers.

The Colorado Women's College study is the first to look at women in leadership roles across 14 sectors, from medicine and technology to law and politics. It builds upon the 2009 report by The White House Project, the nonpartisan organization focused on advancing women's leadership. The project ended in 2012.

Researchers gathered the latest data from each sector, focusing on the top echelon of each industry, counting the number of women in the top 10 organizations, and calculating leadership performance by the frequency with which women were recognized by industry distinctions, such as national awards.

Project Runway Season 12 Winner Dom Offers College Advice to Women Interested in Fashion Design

The Huffington Post

Inspiring Leadership
Dom Streater - graduate of Moore College of Art & Design

By: Diane Propsner, Women's College Advocate
Posted: October 30, 2013

Dom Streater the cool, calm and creative 24-year-old whose fashion-forward style caught the eye of the Project Runway judges has been very busy juggling design work with local appearances in the town she grew up in, Philadelphia, since winning Season 12. Her design business, Halcyon Clothing Collection, is really hopping; the totes she designed are nearly all sold out, and Samuel L Jackson contacted her via Twitter to design a dress for his wife, LaTanya Richardson. While Dom's Alma mater, Moore College of Art & Design, invited her to speak at their 2013 Leadership Conference for Women in the Arts, Philadelphia's morning TV show, Good Day Philadelphia, invited her to be on the show and the mayor of Philadelphia, The Honorable Michael A. Nutter, honored Dom for her winning Project Runway at a recent event.

How to Afford a Quality College Education for Your Daughter

The Huffington Post

Diane Propsner
Diane Propsner - Women's College Advocate

By: Diane Propsner, Women's College Advocate
Posted: October 10, 2013

If you're a parent with a college-bound daughter, I know you're thinking about the cost of her education. On one hand, you're so proud of her; on the other, you're wondering what kind of education you can really afford. You know she deserves a high-quality education, but you are quickly realizing that not all colleges are created equal. You question whether quality and affordability are even possible.

Let me offer an option that offers real value and advantage, and where quality and affordability are both assured: a college for women.

Thanks to a generous financial aid package, I experienced the quality and advantages of women's colleges firsthand. Although this was many years ago, women's colleges still offer outstanding financial aid packages that make a superior college education accessible.

I'll begin by sharing with you the feedback I received from first-year students of various women's colleges: Mount St. Mary's College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Stephens College, and Sweet Briar College. They all said that they were very happy with their financial packages, and most reported that their financial aid packages were much better than those offered by coed colleges.

Status of Girls in Indiana 2013

Saint Mary's College

Status of Girls in Indiana 2013
Click picture to download the full report

Carol Mooney >
From: Carol A. Mooney, President, Saint Mary's College
Posted: September 19, 2013
Download a copy by clicking HERE

As the President of Saint Mary’s College I am pleased to present this research report on The Status of Girls in Indiana. As a women’s college, we have been educating women since 1844. Because of this mission, we are also deeply concerned about the status of girls. The data contained in this report can and should impact decisions made at both the state and local levels about this vital constituency in Indiana.

It is my hope that the information contained herein will inform educators, policy makers, legislators, health professionals, and many others as they look for ways to promote the health and well being of Indiana girls. We know that early intervention is the key to successfully changing behaviors and attitudes. Awareness of both the achievements made in Indiana, and the opportunities that still exist to create a better environment for girls, will help us move forward in an informed way. Our girls deserve every chance to improve their lives and achieve their dreams. We will all benefit from their success.

The Sum of All Salaries

The Huffington Post

Patricia McGuire
Patricia McGuire.President, Trinity Washington University


By: Patricia McGuire, President, Trinity Washington University
Posted: September 16, 2013

My first job out of law school paid $15,000, pretty grim even by 1977 standards. That modest sum paid for a roach-infested apartment in Mt. Rainer, a used Duster with rust holes in the floor, and $90 a month in student loan payments that really stressed me out. Sallie Mae and PHEAA (the Pennsylvania college lending agency) were terrible beasts haunting my dreams.

And yet, I loved every minute of that adventuresome time in my life, and I didn't regret a single moment of my public interest work with the Street Law clinic at Georgetown. I saw my law school friends making a lot of money but they seemed quite miserable, for the most part.

I didn't go to college or law school to make money. I had bigger plans than that; I wanted to help people, change some lives, maybe find a corner of the world to change entirely. I have never defined my worth by money; even today, in my 25th year as a college president, I earn a lot less than most presidents make in their first year, but I don't regret that for a nanosecond. I'm having a lot more fun than most, and I feel hugely fulfilled in my work each day.

Finding Satisfaction in Second Best

From The New York Times

Debora Spar
A new book by Debora Spar, the president of Barnard College, comes out Tuesday

Posted: September 13, 2013

Debora Spar is the president of Barnard College and the mother of three children, and yet in her spare time she wrote a book — about how women are trying to do far too much at once, using herself as a prime case study. In “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection,” which will be published on Tuesday, Ms. Spar argues that at every stage of life, from childhood to old age, women are straining to reach impossible standards.

"My generation made a mistake," Ms. Spar writes. "We took the struggles and the victories of feminism and interpreted them somehow as a pathway to personal perfection. We privatized feminism and focused only on our dreams and our own inevitable frustrations." Over sushi in late August, Ms. Spar discussed why she stopped attending PTA meetings, how she figured out that her career would go better with a breast reduction, and the problem with 17-year-olds founding their own nonprofit organizations.

Why First-Year STEM Girls Attend Women's Colleges

The Huffington Post

Diane Propsner
Diane Propsner - Women's College Advocate

By: Diane Propsner, Women's College Advocate
Posted: August 29, 2013

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is on the minds of many these days -- from the president of the country to educators and employers. One puzzling question remains, "How do we encourage more women into STEM careers?" And while this question remains unanswered, the good news is that women's colleges have excelled at educating women in these fields for more than 100 years, and have added STEM programs along the way. Women's colleges are resolute in their dedication to the task at hand and have a track record for preparing students to start a STEM career or to obtain an advanced degree.

The even better news is that more and more STEM girls are discovering this hidden college treasure. Once high school girls become aware of the supportive, nurturing, focused, research-based environments, they understand how a women's college will benefit them and their STEM career goals.

Helping the Poor Go to Good Colleges

From The New York Times

Letters to the Editor
Re “Elite Colleges Differ on How They Aid Poor” (front page, July 31)
August 6, 2013

At the country’s most competitive colleges and universities, only 14 percent of students are from the lower half of the income spectrum. The article reports a range of reasons and apologies for this state of affairs from officials at many of the foremost institutions.

I have a solution for them. Forty-five percent of the undergraduates in the United States attend community colleges. That’s 13 million students, and almost all of them fall into that neglected lower half of family income.

At Miami Dade College, 46 percent of our students live beneath the federal poverty standard, and 67 percent are low income. We have an endless supply of brilliant low-income students who would love to attend these great universities. We would be more than willing to assist these students.

Top Five Reasons to Choose a Women's College

By: Dottie L. King President, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
August 1, 2013

Is a women's college relevant to the educational, social and leadership needs of today's woman? The answer is yes!

As president of the oldest Catholic women's college in the nation, I am constantly witnessing the difference that single-gender education is making in the lives of women on my campus and at the 46 other women's colleges throughout the United States.

And, in my ten years of teaching women's programs, I have found that not only is a women's college relevant; it is a game-changer for the students who choose it over other co-educational institutions -- changing their lives and giving them a voice. I often tell parents and prospective students that although not a women's college graduate myself, after working in both co-ed and single gender mathematics classrooms throughout my career, I have witnessed the difference in my own students and have come to be a huge proponent for women's colleges today.

How to Get Your Girls to Consider Women's Colleges

From the National Association for College Admission Counseling

Press to download PowerPoint Presentation
Expanded version of PowerPoint presented at 10/6/2012 NACAC Denver

Connecting the Dots to Find the Right Fit
October 6, 2012
NACAC - Denver

Kimberley Lewis, Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management & Student Services, Bryn Mawr College, PA
Kristin McAndrew, Director of Admission, Saint Mary’s College, IN

NACAC piloted a new 30 minute “burst” information session in Denver – not nearly enough time for us to talk about our favorite subject: this generation of girls and helping them find the right fit in the increasingly complicated college selection process.

Bottom line: “It is all about her.”

This is an expanded version of the PPT that was presented at NACAC on October 6, 2012. It includes additional key messages and research findings that you can tailor to meet your advisees’ needs.

Section 1 (4 - 15) Kimberley’s and Kristen’s Presentation in Denver
Section 2 (16 - 41) If: Today’s College Women
Section 3 (42 - 109) Then: What Alumnae Say

Thoughts at Commencement 2012

Thoughts at Commencement 2012

Finding the right fit in a college is an incredible journey. It’s a journey to find the college at which you will thrive and reach your academic and personal potential. It’s also a journey to find the college that will best prepare you for success in life after college.

One tack to take on your journey is to look at last things first – look at what commencement speakers tell the graduating class as they begin their new life after college.

The dominate themes in the words of wisdom shared at women’s colleges – to listen and to speak out and give voice; to be courageous and to take risks and seize opportunities; to give and to make a difference at your seat at the table – whatever and where ever that table is; to be curious and to discover and continue to learn and grow – weave a rich fabric that shapes the answer to the call to action delivered at one women’s college: “The question I ask you graduates is: What will your story be?”

You can either browse them all, alphabetically or select individual colleges:

Browse all
Browse by College

Connecting the Dots to Find the Right Fit: How to Get Your Girls to Consider Women’s Colleges

L-R: Kimberley Lewis, Bryn Mawr College; Deb Shaver, Smith College; and Kristin McAndrew, Saint Mary’s College

Independent Educational Consultants Association, May 3, 2012

A presentation at the spring conference of the Independent Educational Consultants Association explored the dimensions of the college selection process that young women need to consider in order to find the right fit in college – and why a women’s college might be the right fit for them.

To see what Susan Lennon (President of the Women’s College Coalition), Kimberley Lewis (Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Bryn Mawr College), Kristin McAndrew (Director of Admission at Saint Mary’s College) and Deb Shaver (Dean of Admission at Smith College) talked about with counselors, click here.

Stay tuned: The Women’s College Coalition has embarked on a bold research initiative to answer the provocative question, “Why Does the World Need Women’s Colleges?” New research findings from NSSE, Hardwick~Day, Linda Sax and other sources will be posted to our website as they are available.

Join us in our noble mission: “The Women’s College Coalition, in concert with its members, transforms the world through the education and success of women and girls.”

At the Pinnacle of Hillary Clinton's Career

Secretary of State Clinton

At the Pinnacle of Hillary Clinton's Career

Secretary of State Clinton (Wellesley ’69) has won over her harshest critics and become so popular that some Democrats are envisioning a future in which she replaces Joe Biden as vice president on the 2012 ticket and then—dare they imagine it—takes the top job in 2016.

I am late for a black-tie dinner, running down Manhattan’s West Side Highway in a cocktail dress and bare feet, evening sandals clutched in one hand, a recorder and notebook in the other. In a covered garage at Chelsea Piers, I catch up to my mark—a string of town cars, SUVs, and police cars, lights blazing—just as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton steps onto the red carpet.

Her entourage files into a curtained-off room to the side of the banquet hall, and her security detail waves me in behind them—I’ve been following her for a few weeks now, from Washington, DC, to Europe and now New York City. I’m frantically scanning the group for the State Department press aide, my eyes still adjusting to the darkened antechamber, when I practically walk into Secretary Clinton. She looks at me; I look at her. Her eyes are disarmingly blue; my face is red. Her gaze travels down to the stilettos in my hand, then to my bare feet. I follow suit, as if I’m in one of those dreams where you find yourself in high school French, taking a test you didn’t study for, and you suddenly realize that you forgot to put on clothes.

Twenty-One Women’s College Named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

The Corporation for National Community Service

April 2, 2012
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities that reflect the values of exemplary community service, achieve meaningful outcomes in solving community problems, and place more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement. The initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

The 642 colleges and universities named to this year's Honor Roll reported that nearly one million of their students engaged in service learning and more than 1.6 million participated in other forms of community service, serving a total of more than 105 million hours, often using the skills learned in classrooms. Why do service learning and community service matter in college? See below. .

California women still lag in key categories

MSMC of Los Angeles on the Times Square PR Newswire

The Women’s College Coalition has embarked on a bold research agenda, the objective of which is to answer the question, “Why does the world need women’s colleges?” One dimension of this work – illuminating the factors that can impede or enhance the well-being and success of women and girls before, during, and after college – is best described through reports on the status of women and girls that Alverno College, Trinity Washington University, and Mount St. Mary’s College have released for Wisconsin, Metropolitan Washington DC area, and California, respectively. About these reports, Mary Meehan, president of Alverno College, said “The mission of a women’s college extends beyond the classroom. We have a responsibility to educate the community on issues impacting women and girls. We have a moral imperative to be a voice in the local and global communities as ways women contribute to our society. We have an obligation to create a culture committed to women and girls.”

Women earn college degrees at a higher rate than men in California, but men still have advantages in leadership roles and earning power, according to an analysis by Mount St. Mary's College.

March 29, 2012 By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times

California women have made significant strides in recent years, obtaining college and graduate degrees at a higher rate than men, for instance, but they still lag their male counterparts when it comes to leadership roles, earning power, and proficiency in advanced science and math, a new report shows.

The analysis (Click Here to download 2012 MSMC Status of Girls) released Thursday, takes a wide-ranging look at how women and girls are faring across California. It points to recent achievements in some areas but highlights continuing inequities in many others, including women's low representation in elected office, in high-paying science and technology careers, and in the top ranks of the state's major public companies

Commentary: Women’s Colleges, HBCUs Have Nurtured the Best and the Brightest

Pamela Reid
Pamela Trotman Reid

March 22, 2012
by Dr. Pamela Trotman Reid
Women of color, particularly African-American women and Latinas, have long been the mainstay of their communities. Researchers have empirically demonstrated that children’s health outcomes, social standing and educational achievement can all be traced to the mother’s successes and aspirations.

My own family is a case in point.

Women’s College Coalition has embarked on a bold research agenda

Hardwick Day Research Findings

Listen to the presentation
PowerPoint presentation

The Women’s College Coalition has embarked on a bold research agenda, the objective of which is to answer the question, “Why does the world need women’s colleges?” Hardwick Day and NSSE findings, and work the Coalition is doing with Linda Sax (author of The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Development Potential of Women and Men) are distinctive points in the research agenda.

The Coalition released new findings in webinars conducted in February and March 2012. We released the findings of our first Hardwick~Day Comparative Alumnae Survey in 2008. And while the world in which we work has changed significantly since then, the four key messages that came out of the 2008 findings, remain constant with the new, recently released findings.

Gloria Steinem, a Woman Like No Other

From The New York Times

Gloria Steinem
Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times
Gloria Steinem, right, at a Women's Political Caucus event in 1971

Gloria Steinem, a Woman Like No Other
March 16, 2012

IN 1970, when the Senate was first debating passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, a featured speaker was Gloria Steinem, a 36-year-old magazine writer with a growing reputation as a forceful advocate of women’s issues.

“During years of working for a living, I have experienced much of the legal and social discrimination reserved for women in this country,” Ms. Steinem told the almost exclusively male gathering. “I have been refused service in public restaurants, ordered out of public gathering places and turned away from apartment rentals. All for the clearly stated, sole reason that I am a woman.”

Why I Moved: Linda A. Bell

From The Chronicle

Linda Bell
Lina Bell Haverford College

March 4, 2012

Name: Linda A. Bell

Age: 53

New Job: Provost and dean of the faculty at Barnard College; professor of economics

Position she's leaving: Provost and professor of economics, Haverford College

Highest degree: Doctorate in economics from Harvard University

When I heard that I had been nominated for the position of provost at Barnard, I was intrigued. There are so many wonderful things about Barnard that dovetail with both the trajectory of my career and my experience as an academic researcher.

Barnard is a small college, but its unique relationship with Columbia gives it the resources of a place that's much larger. So many things make it particularly appealing: It's a liberal-arts college for women; it's in New York City; and its roster of famous and distinguished alumnae is really quite extraordinary.

I have long been an advocate of women's education and mentorship. My research has focused on the powerful effect that female mentors have in helping women in corporate settings overcome gender pay differences and advance to the top executive ranks. Barnard students are poised to take on these positions of leadership, and it will be exciting to help develop and mentor these women at the very beginning of their careers.

Women's colleges tap underutilized leadership talent

From Inside

Women's colleges tap underutilized leadership talent
February 28, 2012 0:1:57 PM
By Helen Drinan

In a few short months, thousands of newly minted college graduates will leave Boston with dreams of future success. According to the U.S. Census, more than half of these students will be women; and according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Co, if we check back with these women in several years, they will not have attained the same level of success as their male counterparts.

Research by McKinsey and the women’s advocacy group Catalyst shows that women account for more than half of entry-level professionals in the largest American industrial corporations, but only 14 percent are on executive committees. Women represent just 3 percent of Fortune500 CEOs, and less than 15 percent of corporate executives at top companies worldwide. The sad truth is that only minimal progress has been made in the past few decades for women to make a significant break-through into leadership positions.

The reasons for this disparity are multifaceted, yet one of the strongest answers to this problem, I believe, can be found at some of America’s most enduring institutions: women’s colleges. As a graduate and president of a women’s college, I have no doubt that these educational outlets continue to play a vital role in educating and preparing women for leadership positions, helping our nation tap into an enormous segment of underutilized talent.

Female Participation in College Sports Reaches All-Time High

From The Chronicle

Report: 2012 Women in Intercollegiate Sport 1977 to 2012
Click to open pdf
^50 Pages

January 22, 2012
By Brad Wolverton

Forty years after the passage of federal legislation used to prevent gender discrimination in college sports, female participation opportunities have reached a record high.

Nearly 200,000 female athletes will suit up this year on 9,274 NCAA teams. That's an average of 8.7 women's teams per college¬—the highest number ever, according to a report to be released on Monday.

Although some sports have seen a decline in participation—including ones with high numbers of minority athletes—the overall numbers have grown markedly during the past two years. That is remarkable, considering the budget constraints many institutions have faced, say the report's authors, R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter, professors emerita of Brooklyn College. They've been studying women's sports since the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

I Was Impossible, but Then I Saw How to Lead

From The New York Times

Ruth Simmons, former president of Smith College
Ruth Simmons, former president of Smith College

Ruth Simmons, former president of Smith College
I Was Impossible, but Then I Saw How to Lead
December 3, 2011

This interview with Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University for the last 11 years, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant. Dr. Simmons is stepping down at the end of this academic year and will continue as a professor of comparative literature and Africana studies.

Q. Do you remember the first time you were somebody’s boss?

A. Probably the first time I was a boss was when I was associate dean of the graduate school at the University of Southern California. I was in my early 30s.

Q. Was that an easy transition?

A. It was. If I had to ask myself why, I would say it’s because I’d probably been building to the point where I was capable of doing those things without actually knowing that I could. And if you ask me how far back that went — this assemblage of skills and experience — I’d probably say that it went back to my childhood.

Q. How so?

A. I realized that I was an inveterate organizer from the earliest age. I’m the youngest of 12 children. And although I was the youngest, I tried to organize things in my family. When there were disputes, I tried to mediate. And I intervened in school as well to tell teachers what they were doing wrong, or at least to tell them what I didn’t like about what they were doing. I intervened sometimes in classes to take a leadership role. By the time I got to college, I was impossible.