The Women’s College Coalition, an association of women’s colleges and universities that are two- and four-year, public and private, religiously affiliated and secular, was founded in 1972. It was a time of rapid and complex social and economic changes - the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, and Title IX, as well as demographic and technological changes. The landscape of higher education was changing as well, as many previously all-male colleges became coeducational, offering women many more educational options. 

By the late 1970s, women’s enrollment in college exceeded men’s and, today, women make up the majority of undergraduates (57% nationally) on college campuses. While fewer than 5% of female college students attend women’s colleges, research shows that: 

  • Alumnae from women’s colleges have a higher level of satisfaction with their college experience than women attending co-ed institutions. 
  • They benefit significantly from an academic environment that acknowledges their collaborative teaching and learning preferences. 
  • And they take full advantage of the opportunities to develop their leadership skills and find their voice. 

Fast facts

  • The earliest women’s colleges were founded in the mid-19th century to give women access to higher education.  This was a time when many people believed that it was unnecessary to educate women whose place was in the home, and that rigorous study could be unhealthy for women.
  • In 1960 there were about 230 women’s colleges.
  • In 2014, there were 47 women’s colleges in the U.S. and Canada