Jan. 23, 2019
NORTH ADAMS—A report from the Eos Foundation examining gender equality in Massachusetts colleges and universities has identified Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) as the top four-year public institution among only a small handful of schools to achieve gender equality.
The report, titled “Women’s Power Gap in Higher Education,” examines the percentage of women enrolled at all Massachusetts public and private schools alongside the percentage of female college presidents, senior leadership, and boards of trustees. Of 93 schools, only 18 (19 percent of the total) were ranked as “satisfactory”—and only five of those schools were identified as reaching gender parity.
Most of the schools ranked “satisfactory” are women’s colleges, former women’s colleges, or “special focus schools that educate students for professions that are dominated by women,” according to the report. MCLA shares the top ranking with Berkshire Community College, Roxbury Community College, Cambridge College, and Hampshire College.
MCLA’s student enrollment is 63 percent women. The College’s highest salaried employees are 40 percent female; 50 percent of the College’s Board of Trustees are women, including the board chair. Additionally, MCLA counts two past female presidents.
MCLA Board of Trustees Chair Denise Marshall said, “It is important to have people from all walks of life at the table. I’ve always been impressed with the diversity of leadership at MCLA, from lived experience to student leadership, and beyond.”
MCLA President James F. Birge said, “I am proud to be a part of this community, which is committed to equity in so many forms. Women leaders make and influence decisions at MCLA that strengthen us as an institution. It is enlightening and illuminating to work with my female colleagues on campus, and it is a point of pride that our students can see themselves reflected in that leadership.”
In March 2018, MCLA earned an “A” from the Tucker Center for Girls and Women in Sport for having 100 percent of its female teams led by women head coaches.
Director of MCLA Athletics Laura Mooney said, “Earning an ‘A’ is an accomplishment that we are very proud of. Showing our student-athletes that they can serve in leadership positions is incredibly important. Women are the minority in athletics leadership, so it’s critical that we are empowering them and leading by example in this area. I am proud to be part of a campus that values and supports women leaders.”
MCLA’s commitment to gender parity and general equity is well-documented—and doesn’t stop at equity for those who identify as women.
In September 2018, a report from the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California (USC) identified MCLA as one of only three schools in the United States with top marks for serving black students well. In addition to the USC ranking, MCLA was ranked as a top ten public college for 2019 by U.S. News and World Report.
Among student support services, the College has maintained the Susan B. Anthony Women’s Center for more than 20 years, in addition to the MCLA Identity and Gender Equality Resource Center and Multicultural Center. MCLA also has student-led Men of Color and Women of Color initiatives supported by faculty and staff advisors.
MCLA also offers an 18-credit Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor. Students working with volunteer services on campus volunteer and raise money for local women’s centers and other causes, and faculty, staff, and administrators help students mark important days of awareness such as Take Back the Night.
In September 2018, MCLA hosted its first Lavender Reception for student, staff and faculty who identify as LGBTQIA+. The College also holds regular Safe Zone training sessions, a program created by the Gay Alliance to develop, enhance and maintain campus communities and workplaces that are culturally competent and inclusive for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
The Eos Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures. You can read the full report at www.womenspowergap.org.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.
For more information, go to www.mcla.edu .