Consider this: 20 percent of women in Congress are graduates of women’s colleges. So are 30 percent of a recent Businessweek list of rising women in corporate America. These are impressive statistics, considering that only two percent of women attend women’s colleges. Just last week, a highly ranked Mount Holyoke alumna in the financial industry reiterated what we hear over and over again. Her women’s college education prepared her to work shoulder-to-shoulder in a male-dominated environment.
Here’s how a twenty-first-century women’s education is more relevant than ever when it comes to getting a job in three male-dominated areas:
- STEM. Attracting and retaining women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, especially in computing where the number of women has actually declined over the past 23 years, is well documented. At Mount Holyoke, more than 150 students received funding for research opportunities last summer through the College’s curriculum-to-career program, called The Lynk.
- Financial Services. Women are less likely to apply to Wall Street banks than their male counterparts. As a result, recruiting teams in the financial industry are responding by proactively creating special programs for our students. Take Barclay’s and Goldman Sachs in New York City, for example. They recently hosted a group of students from the historic women’s colleges for an informational site visit, round-table discussions, networking events, and a tour of the trading floors. Amazing opportunities like this are driven by a network of powerful, successful alumnae, who continually seek out ways to share guidance with students.
- Business. A study from the Women’s College Coalition found that women’s colleges produced a greater proportion of entrepreneurs than their coed counterparts. Recently, Harvard Business School launched a new program targeted to women’s college graduates that invites them to learn more about its MBA program—a sign that prestigious graduate schools want women leaders in their classrooms.
Not only are companies and graduate schools recruiting women’s college graduates heavily, they’re also starting early. It’s not uncommon for companies to offer opportunities for our students as soon as the first year. High profile financial institutions have provided our students access to onsite visits, informational sessions, and professional development opportunities long before students launch a job search. We are also seeing recruiters in the technology sector looking for our sophomores to join special summer programs aimed at developing young talent.
This trend is likely to continue—and a women’s college is the place to be when it comes to snagging such an opportunity. The bottom line? Earning a top-notch education at a women’s college opens doors in ways that might not be obvious at first glance. Don’t be afraid to make a different—and gutsy—choice and then watch it pay off!