Best Co-ed Colleges for Women

By Padmini Parthasarathy

This fall, an estimated 12 million women will enroll in college. The number of women students surpassed men in 1980, and the gap has been widening ever since.

Since 2011, more working women have held college degrees than working men. Women now hold more advanced degrees than men. They are the majority consumer group of an educational system that treats them like newcomers or afterthoughts in many ways.

Tuition at many four-year colleges has become an extremely large investment — more than $200,000. In light of this stunning figure, we thought it was worth investigating which schools might deliver the best value for women.  

Despite the parity in degrees awarded, young women at co-ed colleges still do not experience total equality on campus and could still benefit from even more changes.

Research has suggested that graduates of women’s colleges report much higher satisfaction than those of co-ed colleges — 26 percent higher in some cases.

To this day, almost no colleges have an equal gender ratio for tenured professors. The AAUP estimates that 39 percent of women are full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. No school has a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program with proportionate gender ratios. The number of female faculty in STEM is dire, averaging 19 percent. And, according to Communications Coordinator Tracey Vitchers, no school scored higher than a "B+" in Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER)’s crowd-sourced study of sexual assault policies on various college campuses.

However, some colleges are working harder to make improvements than others and deserve to be noted. We analyzed each school’s performance using several categories — including the ratio between male and female tenured professors, the presence of women in STEM programs, the reporting of sexual assault, and compliance with Title IX, and campus safety — to compile this list. A simple cross-comparison was not possible, because not all schools make the same data public. However, we focused on schools that were particularly strong in at least three of our chosen categories.

Of the 80 highest ranked schools in the country, here is a roundup of some of the best colleges for women. We would love to add to the list with crowd-sourced information, so please add any in the comment section below.  

CORRECTION; Ths list now has just nine colleges. Trying to find schools with a good record on sexual assault is shockingly difficult.  We’ve removed Columbia from this list because Columbia University is under investigation for mishandling many allegations of sexual assault. Recently, a student advocacy group was barred from protesting at a prospective student event. Originally, we had showcased U.C. Berkeley because of their innovation in STEM, safety programs and graduate gender studies department. However, we later learned of the pending federal complaints stemming from their mishandling of sexual assault. Columbia was a last minute decision. The sad truth is that very few colleges have a great record when it comes to handling sexual assault. This was a roadblock we kept hitting when researching this piece. In highlighting schools that we thought were handling these crimes (because without a shred of doubt, assault is a crime) properly, we wanted to prove that it is possible to do so. We apologize for this oversight and hope to find another 10th Best school.

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