Duh. Historiann attended the exact same undergraduate (and graduate) institutions as the second-most prominent women’s college graduate in the United States since Katherine Hepburn died. (You know who the most famous American women’s college graduate is!) It would be nice if women’s colleges graduated proportionately more people who got graduate degrees in something other than the humanities–not that there’s anything wrong with that!–or offered mentoring on grassroots organizing so more women’s college grads would get into politics. (Much as I admire Senatorella’s career, I must say that following some guy to Arkansas probably did seem like a ticket to nowhere fast, after Wellesley and Yale Law!) Helping women create new networks of their own could siginficantly bolster the number of women candidates for local and national offices. And, getting into big money might be a good idea, too. Wellesley in the 1980s and 1990s had the reputation of channeling their grads into Investment Banking–does anyone know if that paid off in the world of high finance?
Another benefit to attending a women’s college that I’d like to see some data on: I bet the violent crime rates at women’s colleges are lower than anywhere else–large public universities, co-ed liberal arts colleges, etc., something that’s more important to me now that I’m closer to my students’ parents ages rather than to their ages! Although I believe that I and my colleagues offer a more rigorous history education to our students than I was offered back in the day, this may be another advantage to attending small women’s colleges. If you’re willing and able to pay the price, that is–my undergrad institution is now charging between two and three times what I paid in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and it seemed insanely expensive then! Women’s colleges were and are an elite privilege, fer sure.
The question of mentoring has been on my mind, since (oddly enough) the only students I’ve put into Ph.D. programs from my current university are male students (all 2 of them.) I’ve encouraged women to think about grad school, but they’ve chosen (for various good reasons) to pursue only a master’s degree first, although many of them may well decide to go on to a Ph.D. My sample size is so small, though–have the rest of you faculty-member types noticed a difference between the men and women students you’ve worked with, in terms of their postgraduate ambitions? Can feminist faculty members work effectively to counteract the tide against their women students pursuing graduate degrees after attending coeducational big state universities like mine?