Higher Education

President Speaks: Despite shrinking numbers, women’s colleges are more important than ever

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The primary ladies’s schools in the US had been based within the 18th century within the face of deep-seated opposition to educating ladies. These establishments opened the doorways of alternative for ladies’s training, altering the face of this nation and the world for the higher.

Nonetheless, fewer than three dozen American ladies’s schools stay even if they proceed to serve a function in educating ladies, particularly these from underserved communities. A handful of ladies’s schools have both closed or have begun admitting male college students simply previously few years, together with Mills Faculty and Notre Dame of Maryland College. 

When ladies’s schools shut, go coed or merge with one other establishment, the reason being all the time financial. Small, mission-driven schools of all types are dealing with elevated pressures on account of elevated bills and misplaced income through the pandemic years and the declining demographic of college-going highschool graduates. 

Such strikes are regularly obtained with opposition from alumnae, who’ve skilled the advantages of their ladies’s school training all through their lives. The near-closing of Candy Briar Faculty in 2015 was one such instance, because the Virginia establishment was saved from closure by passionate alumnae who used each measure accessible to maintain it open.

Given that ladies made up 57.6% of all undergraduate students in fall 2022, some have requested whether or not the world nonetheless wants ladies’s schools.

A photo of Elizabeth Meade, president of Cedar Crest College.

Elizabeth Meade

Permission granted by Cedar Crest Faculty


The reply is a convincing sure. From uniquely making ready ladies to guide a worldwide society and shutting the hole in male-dominated fields, to being epicenters of inclusive excellence — and making a group that promotes lifelong studying and connection past commencement — ladies’s schools have extra relevance immediately than ever earlier than.

America’s ladies’s schools have unmatched energy and focus on the subject of forging social mobility, particularly for ladies of colour. Whereas the outdated stereotype of ladies’s schools stays that of a ending faculty for the daughters of the prosperous, in actuality round 43% of full-time first-time college students at ladies’s schools are Pell Grant recipients, 93% obtain some type of monetary assist, and about half are Black, Indigenous or folks of colour. As well as, round one-fifth of those establishments are designated minority-serving establishments.

Cedar Crest Faculty intently follows that sample, with 40% of our college students receiving Pell Grants, 38% being college students of colour, and 39% being first-generation school goers.

At the moment, ladies’s schools proceed to play an important position within the larger training panorama by designing school experiences wherein ladies are the main focus — and the drivers — of educational excellence. Ladies’s schools present nurturing, empowering and inclusive environments that assist younger ladies discover their voices and discover the encouragement they should take dangers, push boundaries and succeed personally and professionally.

Because the American workforce shifts towards STEM fields, we’d like ladies’s schools greater than ever. In line with the Nationwide Middle for Science and Engineering Statistics, women make up only 35% of the science, know-how, engineering and math workforce, with ladies of colour comprising simply 5% of the full.

On common, the schools of ladies’s schools and universities are around 61% women, in comparison with 39.1% at public schools and 37.7% at personal establishments, in line with a 2014 analysis. . Analysis has proven that women perform better in introductory math and science undergraduate programs and usually tend to pursue STEM majors when their professors are additionally ladies. 

As well as, ladies’s schools and universities proudly confer a considerably larger share of bachelor’s levels in STEM fields to American ladies of colour than at liberal-arts schools, in line with a 2020 evaluation from the Middle for the Development of Ladies at Mount Saint Mary’s College.

Ladies’s schools additionally emphasize management, designing coursework round that idea. And it’s no secret that many ladies in management positions in authorities, enterprise and business earned their levels from ladies’s schools and universities. These larger training establishments present an necessary and distinctive instructional alternative for ladies to stay, be taught and develop in supportive communities that put together them successfully for positions of management.

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