How to pick a women-friendly college
We polled several Minnesota college women’s centers for questions women should ask about prospective schools. Here are their suggestions:
- Women’s academic life
- Do you integrate women’s issues into existing courses when appropriate? How?
- Is there a gender and women’s studies department/program/major on campus? Is it part of the academic program? (This can give students an idea of how seriously the campus takes women’s issues.)
- What is the percentage of full-time, tenured women faculty? In the future student’s department? In science and math fields?
- What percentage of the top administrators are women? Women of color?
- Women’s student life
- Has a campus climate survey been conducted recently? (These can be useful in assessing how welcome people of various marginalized groups feel on campus.)
- Does your campus include women in public written statements about diversity and multiculturalism?
- Are there leadership programs for women students? For women staff and faculty members?
- What is the percentage of women in student government? Is there a program to train women to run for student government?
- Do you have an institutionally funded women’s resource center? What is its programming budget? (About $1.50 X total student population is considered healthy in 2014.)
- Women’s housing and residence life
- Is all housing separated for men and women or is some for all genders?
- Do you provide a women’s-themed housing option or a women’s living-learning community program?
- Do you offer gender-neutral or single-occupancy restrooms in campus housing? In other campus buildings?
- Are child care services available on or near campus at affordable or subsidized rates?
- Are there private locations on campus for breastfeeding or lactation needs?
Women’s campus safety
- Does your campus have a procedure for reporting sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking and other women-related bias incidents? (Ask to see the policy.)
- How many sexual assaults were reported last year? (Note that a low number may indicate under-reporting.)
- Do you provide training for public safety officers on violence against women and other marginalized groups?
- What kinds of services does campus safety provide?
Women’s counseling and health
- Do you provide training for health-center staff on the special health care needs of women?
- Do you actively distribute condoms and birth control information?
- Do you provide training for career counselors on implicit bias and advising for women’s equity?
Women’s recruitment and retention efforts
- Do your new student orientation programs include women’s equity; women and leadership; sexual harassment and assault reporting, and resources for lesbians, bi and trans-women?
- Do you do outreach to prospective women college students, especially in science and math fields and for women of color?