New AAUW Report Focuses on Women in Community Colleges

May 09, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Lisa Goodnight, goodnightl@aauw.org
202.785.7738

Katie Broendel, broendelk@aauw.org
202.785.7761

NOTE: On Thursday, May 9, AAUW will host an audio press briefing at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT) with leading experts and a student mother currently enrolled in a community college. RSVP to media@aauw.org for call-in information.

New AAUW Report Focuses on Women in Community Colleges
Celebrates Accessibility and Affordability of Two-Year Colleges, Identifies Next Steps

WASHINGTON—The American Association of American University (AAUW) today released a new report, Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success, highlighting the importance of community college as a primary educational option for student mothers. The AAUW report calls for increasing on-campus child care funding to help parents stay in school and graduate and outlines steps community colleges can take to increase women’s participation and success in nontraditional and high-demand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“It’s clear that community colleges are critical pathways to higher learning. And women make up a majority of the total student population at these institutions,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “While we celebrate the affordability and accessibility of community colleges, access is not enough; too many students enroll but don’t actually complete their coursework.”

Student mothers are especially likely to choose a community college, yet many of these schools don’t have child care facilities or programs. While more than a million moms go to community college ― and moms say that child care is important to their success there ― less than half of community colleges provide on-campus child care. Federal funds available to help schools provide these services have decreased, even though child care could help mothers stay in school. Increasing the number of college graduates is a top priority of the Obama administration, and more child care can help achieve this goal sooner.

But efforts to understand how to help student mothers will, unfortunately, remain incomplete until data collection methods are improved. “Community colleges educate 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduate students, yet our main federal data system does not adequately report outcomes for community college students,” said Catherine Hill, AAUW director of research. “If we expect community colleges to do more in the next decades, our current data collection system just won’t work. Data may not be a sexy topic, but without good information, we’ll never know if our educational investments are paying off.”

The report also discusses how community college can play a role in increasing women’s participation in STEM. Women are more likely than men to attend community college on the way to earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field, which makes active recruitment of women all the more important to our country’s economic success. The AAUW report calls for improved outreach to and recruitment and support of women in these nontraditional fields.

AAUW is putting its resources behind efforts to improve women’s achievement at community colleges. As part of a larger initiative on community colleges, AAUW will host and live-stream a May 21 town hall event at the Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria campus, and announce the availability of grants for campus-based projects on the issues raised in the report. Follow tweets about the report and the event, which starts at 2 p.m. EDT, with the hashtag #WomeninCC.

 

By:   |   May 09, 2013