Women Alumnae Wielding More Financial Power

Women alumnae are increasingly giving high donations to their schools, and reaping the benefits. Women are beginning to take a more active role in policy making committees and on University councils. Women who join the UCLA Women and Philanthropy Group give $25,000 over a period of five years and serve on a committee to help shape campus policy. At least twelve such councils now exist for women donors, whose universities are beginning to see as an untapped source of economic resources. Most universities are also finding, however, that the women donors want to see their money aid women on campus. Groups often want more women tenured as faculty, scholarships set aside for women students, money set aside to recruit female athletes, and programs created to help women enter the workforce.

At Harvard University, for example, a group calling itself the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard boycotted the school’s $2 billion capital fundraising program. They urged Radcliffe and Harvard alumni to put their money into an escrow account which would be withheld until Harvard added more tenured women to its faculty. Peggy Schmertzler, chair of the committee, said that women at the school held only 11.5 percent of tenured positions on the faculties of arts and sciences; nationally women hold 22.6 percent of such tenured positions. So far, the account has accumulated more than $500,000. Subsequently, Harvard has formed a Women and Leadership Task Force of 41 alumnae to serve in an advisory capacity. The Washington Post has a full report on what motivates women to give to their alma mater, accessible from the related on article on the paper’s Web site.


Washington Post - January 17, 1997

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