1. Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA)
It may be nestled in a small town in the middle of Massachusetts, but Mount Holyoke women have big city dreams.
As one of the oldest colleges for women in the country, Mount Holyoke puts women’s leadership at the forefront of their liberal arts curriculum.
“We all come to MHC learning [that] our job as MHC students is to make history in our field and eventually become influential women,” Libby, a junior at Mount Holyoke, says.
From a women’s leadership center to their feminist a cappella group Nice Shoes — whose repertoire includes female empowerment songs — MHC graduates strong, activist women.
“After going to [an all-girls high school] I needed a feminist institution. I needed a college that supported women and their power,” Libby says.
MHC boasts alumnae like Emily Dickinson and the first female cabinet member Frances Perkins.
2. Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
Be very, very careful if you mention Hillary Clinton’s name to a Wellesley woman. As one of the school’s most famous alumnae and the object of their not-so-secret infatuation, Hillary continues to be a role model for the college’s undergrads — often eliciting a shriek of delight when her name drops.
On a campus located in a suburb of Boston, Wellesley women enjoy high power academics plus all the city perks of Boston.
Rebecca, a junior at Wellesley says, “Wellesley is empowering because of the classroom experience and the community itself. It’s also empowering looking at the Wellesley women before you who have made history. Wellesley really helps you understand what it means to be a feminist and how it means that women and men are equal. There’s a broad spectrum of feminism at Wellesley.”
And oh yeah, Madeleine Albright and Nora Ephron were also Wellesley graduates.
Actress Meryl Streep attends the Barnard College Commencement on May 17, 2010 in New York City.
3. Barnard College (New York, NY)
Sure, Barnard is affiliated with its Ivy League neighbor Columbia, but make no mistake: these women have their own identity.
“Barnard is a feminist college in the sense that Barnard’s curriculum and career development empower women and create opportunities for us to pursue any field of study and any profession we desire,” Emma, a sophomore, says.
Combining the best of both worlds, easy access to a co-ed social life and sisterhood, Barnard girls have it all: an amazing career office (hello, internships!), New York City and the Barnard Center for Research on Women, which promotes women’s and social justice issues by bringing speakers and other programming to campus.
And those are just a few reasons Barnard women love their school.
4. Chatham University (Pittsburgh, PA)
Chatham women don’t just support women’s rights — they actually make them happen.
“Though students represent both liberal and conservative views, everyone takes women’s rights extremely seriously,” says Mara, a Chatham sophomore. “The student organization, F.A.C.E. (Feminist Activists Creating Equality), has a major presence on campus, organizing everything from petition signings to a Walk for Congo Women. Other groups work to incorporate the same themes into their work and their events.”
This Pittsburgh school requires all students to take women’s studies classes (a perennial favorite is Eco-feminist Literature, says Mara), but all classes are infused with a nice dose of feminism.
“’Women’s issues’ are a focus of Chatham’s mission, and that approach is strongly reflected in academics. Nearly every course incorporates readings, lectures and discussions that examine women’s rights in the context of the subject,” Mara says.
Notable alumnae include biologist Rachel Carson and Judy Bachrach, a Vanity Fair editor.
5. Smith College (Northampton, MA)
There’s no doubt about it: “I think the overall, prevailing feeling is that if you go to Smith, you are a feminist,” freshman Claire says. “The school drills it into our heads that we should be strong, independent women or we don’t belong [here].”
Speaking of strong, independent women, Smith’s famous alumnae list reads like a Who’s Who in American Feminism: writer Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and chef Julia Child (just to name a few!).
And here are a few slogans that can be seen on official Smith College apparel: “Smith College: a century of women on top.” (innuendo intended, Claire jokes) and “It’s not a girl’s school without men; it’s a women’s college without boys.”
Click here to read about three more feminist colleges and what it’s like to go there.
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