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More proof that mentors matter

From the US News

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

Ruth Simmons, former president of Smith College
More proof that mentors matter
November 12, 2007

"That was defining for me, the notion that women didn't have to play restricted roles."

The libraries at Brown University contain some 6 million items—not just books but also Babylonian clay tablets and locks of Abraham Lincoln's hair. It's striking, then, that the woman in charge of this university came from a home where paper, pencils, and books were as hard to come by as a first edition of the Canterbury Tales.

Growing up on a farm in East Texas, the youngest of 12 children, Ruth Simmons could easily recount the story of her life as one of deprivation and hardship. Her father was a sharecropper and her mother was a part-time maid. Yet she's more apt to remember it fondly. "My journey has not been all that arduous, contrary to the way that my life is often presented," she says. "I had this wonderful grounding by my parents, and then an extraordinary streak of luck."

Those attributes took her from the farm to a series of important firsts: the first black president of a Seven Sisters school, the first African-American at the helm of an Ivy League institution, and the first female president of Brown. For all this, she credits a series of mentors who challenged, prodded, and supported her along the way.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Three Activist Women

Left, Leymah Gbowee; center: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president; right: Tawakkol Karman in Sana, Yemen.

Photos by - Left: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times; center: Jane Hahn for The New York Times; right: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Left, Leymah Gbowee; center: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president; right: Tawakkol Karman in Sana, Yemen.

“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.” (Citation, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize)

October 11, 2011

LONDON — The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 was awarded on Friday to three campaigning women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. The winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa’s first elected female president — her compatriot, peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy campaigner.

They were the first women to win the prize since Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, who died last month, was named as the laureate in 2004.

Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men and Friday’s decision seemed designed to give impetus to the cause for women’s rights around the world.

For Women on Campuses, Access Doesn't Equal Success

From The Chronicle

October, 2 2011
By MaryAnn Baenninger

The influence of gender is lurking on our campuses—in classrooms, in residence halls, on the bleachers at athletic events. It follows students as they study abroad, and it is the elephant in the room when students are learning to lead. The gender-laden experiences of our students have unanticipated consequences in their own lives and in society as a whole, yet those of us in higher education generally behave as if we live in a "postgender" world.

Connecting the Dots to Find the Right Fit

From the National Association for College Admission Counseling

Jessica Reback (l) and Deb Shaver (r)
Jessica Reback (l) and Deb Shaver (r)

Connecting the Dots to Find the Right Fit
September 24, 2011

A presentation at the 67th annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling 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 Hector Martinez (Director of College Guidance at The Webb Schools), Deb Shaver (Director of Admission at Smith College), Jessica Reback (’11, Smith College and Teach for America – New Orleans at William J. Fischer Accelerated Academy, 7th/8th Grade English Language Arts/Writing) and Susan Lennon (President of the Women’s College Coalition) talked about with high school guidance counselors, click here for the abbreviated version of the presentation and click here for the expanded version, which includes the research, data, and dots that were presented – NSSE, Hardwick~Day and Linda Sax, etc. – as well as the stories behind the pictures in our newest poster.

The Re-Education of an Amnesiac

From The New York Times

Smith College Student Authors “Lives,” the end piece in The New York Times magazine. “From tying shoes to taking college courses, a woman who lost everything learns it all again.”

September 16, 2011
The Re-Education of an Amnesiac

I’m not your typical undergraduate. I am a 46-year-old wife and mother with three adult children. Depending on how you count, I may be twice as old as the traditional students or essentially the same age as they are. After all, my life as I know it began 23 years ago, when, in a freakish accident, I was hit in the head by a ceiling fan in our home in Fort Worth, Tex. At that moment, everything and everyone I ever knew, and all I had ever learned, was erased completely from my mind.

It is all about you.

Women's College Coalition Poster

The Women’s College Coalition has released its newest poster to more than 14,000 high school guidance counselors and others who influence the college selection process. The target audience for the poster is prospective students.

It is all about you.

Your education and success matter. What matters in college matters after college – and it matters in your college selection process. Finding the right fit in a college – the college at which you will thrive and reach your academic and personal potential, the college that will best prepare you for success – is one of the most important decisions you will make. Finding the right fit is all about you. It’s about who you are and what matters to you. It’s about your dreams and expectations – of yourself and your college experience, both in and out of the classroom.

Every picture tells a thousand words.

The pictures on the poster tell the stories about many of the dimensions of finding the right fit and why a women’s college – which is all about the education and success of its students – might be the right fit for you. To learn more about the stories the pictures tell, Click here.

Posters can be purchased ($1 each plus shipping and handling); Click here.

Views: Closing the Gap

From Inside Higher Education

Closing the Gap
August 18, 2011
By Jane McAuliffe

In its just-issued report "Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation" the U.S. Department of Commerce writes that while women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math jobs.

The gender gap in STEM jobs persists despite the fact that more women now graduate from college than men and the fact that women in STEM fields tend to have more equitable wages compared to those in non-STEM jobs. Women major and earn degrees in STEM fields, creating a female talent pool, but they tend to pursue careers in education and health care.

Some may say, "Well, so what? There are some jobs men like, and some jobs women like." Or they may even argue that there are some fields for which one sex has a greater aptitude than the other.

Women See Value and Benefits of College; Men Lag on Both Fronts, Survey Finds

From PewResearch Publications

August 17, 2011

Half of all women who have graduated from a four-year college give the U.S. higher education system excellent or good marks for the value it provides given the money spent by students and their families; only 37% of male graduates agree. In addition, women who have graduated from college are more likely than men to say their education helped them to grow both personally and intellectually. These results of a nationwide Pew Research Center survey come at a time when women surpass men by record numbers in college enrollment and completion.


From Inside Higher Education
Lynn Pasquerella

Lynn Pasquerella President of Mount Holyoke College

She's Got It!
Factory Worker to President
August 8, 2011
By Mary Churchill

Lynn Pasquerella is president at Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mount Holyoke is a highly selective liberal arts college for women, renowned for educating women leaders. Prior to becoming president on July 1, 2010, Pasquerella was provost at the University of Hartford. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University and is married, with twin college-aged sons.

I met President Pasquerella in Toronto this past June at the Worldviews Conference on Media and Higher Education. We immediately launched into a lively conversation about University of Venus and Mount Holyoke and our respective work on promoting new leadership in higher education. In reflecting on that conversation, I realized that it needed to go public. I was inspired by my conversation with Lynn and I knew that others would find it equally inspiring. [A spin-off from University of Venus, She’s Got It! is a newly launched career column at Inside Higher Ed featuring interviews with executive level women and men in the education sector. Read more about it here.]

In response to the debt crisis, former congresswoman and Smith alumna, Jane Harman '66, yearns for a lost bipartisan era.

FromThe Daily Beast
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) greets U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu (L) and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson ahead of their testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill April 22, 2009 in Washington, DC., Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) greets U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu (L) and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson ahead of their testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill April 22, 2009 in Washington, DC., Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Escape From the Asylum
Watching the debt crisis, a former congresswoman yearns for a lost bipartisan era.

August 8, 2011
By Mary Churchill

Three months into my new job as president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, I watch the dysfunction in Congress with dismay. I served there for nine terms and left earlier this year after a huge reelection victory. The chance to lead a truly bipartisan institution that blends policy and scholarship was a challenge I could not turn down.

Many new colleagues and former constituents ask me when and why Congress became so broken. My answer: the breakdown started in the 1980s, when politicians began to value winning elections and building single-party majorities over responsible governance.

Today, representatives would rather blame the other guy for not solving a problem than work with him or her on a bipartisan solution. Working together requires sharing the credit—but that might give the other party an opportunity to win, which is something seemingly unthinkable now.

Many of America’s most powerful women went to a college you’ve never heard of.

From Washington Monthly

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

July/August 2011 The Trinity Sisters
By: Kevin Carey

Sister Ann Gormly is almost ninety, but she still skips the elevator and climbs the steep wooden staircase in the main hall of Trinity College, her alma mater and former employer of many years. I met her there one cold afternoon in early December, on the college’s small hillside campus in northeast Washington, D.C. She guided me up one flight of steps, down a long, quiet hallway, and into a spare white meeting room, where she and three of her fellow nuns told me about one of the more remarkable and unacknowledged institutions in twentieth-century American higher education.

The implications of teen sleep deficits

From Smith College

July 19, 2011

Smith sophomore, Grace McKay-Corkum, who studies circadian rhythms and sleep with Smith Professor Mary Harrington, reports on recent sleep research in light of proposals to change school start times in Northampton, MA to a later hour.

Where a New Inclusiveness Is Changing the Face of the Construction Industry


July 18, 2011
By Aileen Cho

Smith Engineering Professor and Author of Engineering and Social Justice Featured in Story About the Construction Industry
Where a New Inclusiveness Is Changing the Face of the Construction Industry

The idea of workplace diversity is nothing new, but its progress in the engineering and construction world is, well, diverse. Some firms take a minimal approach, adhering to federal rules regarding minority and disadvantaged businesses or anti-discrimination laws. Others cite diversity and inclusion as a core value and business imperative.

Wellesley Alumna, Cokie Roberts ’64, Delivers Eulogy for Former First Lady Betty Ford

From ABC News

Betty Ford

July 12, 2011

Former First Lady Betty Ford asked Cokie Roberts, ABC News political commentator and NPR analyst, some five years ago to be one of the speakers at her funeral. Today in Palm Dessert, California, Roberts delivered the eulogy below for Ford, who passed away Friday at age 93. Former President Gerald Ford, a Republican, was House minority leader when Roberts' father, Democratic congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana, was majority leader. They had known each other since Ford's election to Congress in 1948. Boggs died in a plane crash in 1972 and Roberts' mother, Lindy Boggs, now 95, took his seat in Congress after a special election.

In Two Years of Economic Recovery, Women Lost Jobs, Men Found Them

From PewResearch Publications

July 6, 2011
By Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research, Pew Hispanic Center

The sluggish recovery from the Great Recession has been better for men than for women. From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%.1 Women, by contrast, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, and their unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Commencement 2011 - Words of Wisdom

Click Here to read the words of wisdom given at women’s college commencements

From The New York TimesSheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg
Chief operating officer, Facebook
Barnard College

From the New York Times
June 11, 2011
For Life’s Next Stage, Gallows Humor and Sage Advice By LISA W. FODERARO

They spoke of courage in an uncertain economy, warned against technology overload and tried to redefine success for a new generation. They railed against fear, conformity, stasis and self-involvement. And they asked row upon row of young men and women to do nothing less than save the world.

In Jefferson Lecture, Drew Faust Traces the Fascination of War, From Homer to Bin Laden

From The Chronicle

Harvard President – Drew Faust, Bryn Mawr ’68 – on the enduring fascination with the Civil War.
May, 2 2011
By Jennifer Howard


War is hell—and it's a helluva story. Throughout history, from Homer's time on through the Civil War and into the present-day war on terror, we've been powerfully drawn by war narratives.

Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University and a prominent historian of the Civil War, made that bloody fascination the subject of her 2011 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, delivered here Monday night at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Jefferson Lecture is the federal government's most prestigious award for intellectual accomplishment in the humanities.

To a higher degree: Cultural forces impact potential of men and women

From Alumni Roundup

April 24, 2011
By MaryAnn Baenninger
     President of the College of Saint Benedict

An April 11 Newsweek article "Dead Suit Walking"; focused on the problem of greater unemployment for men during the recent recession and men’s challenges adapting to the new economy.

This is the latest news report about the shifting challenges faced by men. People are still talking about a sensationally titled but well-researched article on a similar theme, "The End of Men,"; published in The Atlantic last summer.

New Movie Depicts Title IX's Unfinished Work in Underprivileged Urban Schools

From The Chronicle
By Schling YongShuling Yong

April 17, 2011
By Libby Sander

More than two decades ago, the folks at Kartemquin Films spent several years following the lives of two young basketball players from Chicago. Their efforts resulted in Hoop Dreams, an acclaimed three-hour film now firmly lodged in the canon of sports documentaries.

Now Kartemquin, the nonprofit organization behind dozens of award-winning documentaries, is turning once again to an urban neighborhood for a film about sports and society. This time the focus is on the impact that Title IX, the federal law best known for swelling the nation's sports teams with women, has had on inner-city girls.

Leadership Without the Limelight

From Inside Higher Education

Leadership Without the Limelight
March 22, 2011
By Steve Kolowich

Women dominate higher education enrollments. But based on the most visible students on some campuses, you would never guess it.

At least that is the case at Princeton University, where female undergrads tend to eschew high-profile executive positions at the most prestigious student organizations in favor of less glamorous -- but often equally labor-intensive -- leadership roles, according to a new study by researchers at the university. And the sorts of behavior and attitudes that have given rise to this trend have led the authors of the study to suspect that this may not be just a Princeton phenomenon.

Giving Literature Virtual Life

From The New York Times

Bryn Mawr Professors of English Katherine Rowe and Jane Hedley, and students Jennifer Cook ’11 and Jen Rajchel ’11 featured in New York Times article about humanities courses that employ a new array of powerful digital tools and vast online archives.

March 21, 2011
Giving Literature Virtual Life By PATRICIA COHEN

BRYN MAWR, Pa. — Prof. Katherine Rowe’s blue-haired avatar was flying across a grassy landscape to a virtual three-dimensional re-creation of the Globe Theater, where some students from her introductory Shakespeare class at Bryn Mawr College had already gathered online. Their assignment was to create characters on the Web site Theatron3 and use them to block scenes from the gory revenge tragedy “Titus Andronicus,” to see how setting can heighten the drama.

Smith Alumna and Professor of Chemistry Use Named Organic Reactions As A Lens To Examine A Social Issue: Women’s Contributions

From ACS Publications

Critical Perspective: Named Reactions Discovered and Developed by Women

March 18, 2011
By Julie A. Olson and Kevin M. Shea

Named organic reactions. As chemists, we’re all familiar with them: who can forget the Diels−Alder reaction? But how much do we know about the people behind the names? For example, can you identify a reaction named for a woman? How about a reaction discovered or developed by a woman but named for her male adviser? Our attempts to answer these simple questions started us on the journey that led to this Account.

Empowering Women and Girls Worldwide

The Huffington Post

Dr. Helene Gayle
Dr. Helene Gayle

By By: Rahim Kanani, Editor-in-Chief of World Affairs Commentary, Interviews Dr. Helene Gayle, Barnard College ‘76, President and CEO of CARE USA
Posted: March 7, 2011 04:51 PM

In a recent in-depth interview with Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA, we discussed empowering women and girls around the world, the efforts and initiatives of CARE towards this end, non-profit leadership and management, the new digital CARE Package, innovations in development, her advice to President Obama on foreign aid, and future challenges and opportunities for the international development sector.

An expert on health, global development and humanitarian issues, Dr. Gayle spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She then worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. Dr. Gayle chairs the Obama Administration’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and serves on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

How To Help Women This International Women's Day


On March 6th, CARE released the "Top 10 Myths about Women" in partnership with Smith, MIT's Poverty Action Lab and The Girl Scout Leadership Research Institute. The brief is designed to celebrate accomplishments on this notable anniversary and raise public awareness about the challenges that girls and women face around the world today.

Spelman Alumna La’Shanda Holmes ’07 becomes the First Black Female Helicopter Pilot in Coast Guard History

From Alumni Roundup

February 8, 2011
By aka Tito

Perseverance, dedication, grit, a desire to excel – these are all traits desired in a student aviator. Training in the aviation program for the maritime services is intentionally difficult to stress and push the students beyond their comfort zones so they can meet the hardships their service will entail. However, when that prospective pilot is slated to become a barrier breaker as well, those traits are not just desired, but necessary.

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