of Women’s College
1772, the history of women’s colleges in America began with the
founding of Salem Academy in North Carolina. Salem was not chartered
as a college until more than a century later. But by 1837, with
the establishment of Mount Holyoke, the education of women had
finally set off on the long path towards parity with that of men.
No women’s school before then had combined high entrance standards,
a demanding curriculum, and a lack of instruction in domestic
pursuits with the granting of baccalaureate degrees.
Many other women’s colleges were founded in the ensuing decades
of the 19th century, among them were:
College of Art, founded in Philadelphia in 1848—the first and
only women’s visual arts college in the nation
College, founded in California in 1852—the oldest women’s college
in the West
of Notre Dame of Maryland, founded in 1873—the first Catholic
college for women in the United States to grant the baccalaureate
degree (in 1899).
College, founded in Georgia in 1881—the first African American
Like African Americans, women struggled—and continue to struggle—for
political, educational, and economic equality. The parallels have
not been lost on women. Women’s colleges have played a role in
both the Abolition and the Civil Rights movements.
Today, many schools and professions have opened doors to women,
just as they have to African Americans and other minorities. And,
like the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, women’s
colleges have had to reinvent themselves and reassert their relevance
in changing times.
According to the Women’s College Council, their alumnae—though
only representing 2% of female college graduates—can boast many
advantages. The WCC says studies show that women’s college graduates
report greater satisfaction than their coed counterparts with
their college experience in almost all measures—academically,
developmentally, and personally. They constitute 30% of a Business
Week list of rising women stars in Corporate America, and make
up one third of women board members of Fortune 1000 companies.
They are three times more likely to earn a baccalaureate degree
in economics and one and one-half times more likely to earn baccalaureates
degrees in life sciences, physical sciences and mathematics than
at a coeducational institution and, finally, tend to be more involved
in philanthropic activities after college.
Women’s college alumnae also account for more than 20% of the
women in the 107th congress. Among them are Hillary Rodham Clinton
(Wellesley), the first-ever First-Lady to be elected to the Senate
or to Congress, and Nancy Pelosi (Trinity College, DC) the first
woman elected as Democratic whip in the House of Representatives—the
highest post ever held by a woman in Congress.
And the list of women’s “firsts” is jam-packed with the alumnae
of women’s colleges. Just to name a few more:
Kirkpatrick, first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United
Albright, first woman to be named Secretary of State (Wellesley)
Ferraro, first woman vice-presidential candidate (Marymount Manhattan)
L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor, 2001, first Asian-American woman
appointed to a President’s cabinet (Mount Holyoke).
Pharis Peters, first African American woman appointed Commissioner
of Securities and Exchange Commission (College of New Rochelle).
Healy, first woman to become Director of the National Institutes
of Health in 1991 (Vassar)
K. Conley, first woman to become a tenured full professor of neurosurgey
in the U.S. (Bryn Mawr)
Gomez, first Hispanic woman named president of a comprehensive
state college. (College of St. Elizabeth)
Admiral Louise Wilmot, first woman to command a naval base and
highest-ranking woman in U.S. Navy. (College of St. Elizabeth).
Davis, first woman announcer for a major league baseball team.
(College of Notre Dame of Maryland).
Smith Tunney, first woman General Manager for the Associated Press
Henderlite, first woman ordained minister of Presbyterian Church,
U.S. (Agnes Scott).
Hepburn, first and only person to have won four Academy Awards
for acting (Bryn Mawr).
Green Balch, first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.
S. Buck, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Randolph-Macon
Matilda Bolin, first African American woman judge in the U.S.
Charlotte Fox, the first American woman to climb three of the
world’s tallest peaks. (Hollins).
There are so many more! If you don’t mind us tooting our own horn
. . . you wouldn’t be reading this right now if it weren’t for
our founder and publisher: Dr. Pola Rosen (Barnard).
Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001.
Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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consent of the publisher. © 2003.