Why AAUW Cares about Community Colleges — and You Should, Too

May 08, 2013

As graduates across the country receive their diplomas this May, AAUW is drawing attention to an important but often underappreciated part of our national higher education system: community colleges. On May 9, we will release our newest research report, Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success.

Report cover of Women in Community Colleges: Access to SuccessMore than 4 million women attend community colleges. They include more than a million mothers; they represent all ages, races, and ethnicities; and they have a range of goals. Mothers are motivated to pursue their education as a path to a living that will support their children and families. Many women want to gain job skills to be more competitive in the workforce, and some women see community colleges as a more affordable path to a four-year degree. Unfortunately, many women do not earn a certificate or degree or transfer successfully.

As a leading voice for women’s educational and workplace success, AAUW now calls attention to the particular barriers facing women at community colleges. This report looks at the needs of student mothers who are balancing the roles of caregiver and student. We also focus on how to increase women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and nontraditional fields at community colleges to improve women’s prospects for work and help close the gender pay gap, another issue near and dear to us. In 2009, President Barack Obama announced the American Graduate Initiative calling for community colleges to produce 5 million additional graduates by 2020. Improving women’s graduation and transfer rates is essential to meeting this goal and requires action from both Congress and individual community colleges across the country.

We look forward to seeing more women at community colleges walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Read the full report when it goes online May 9, and follow what others are saying about it.

Catherine Hill, Ph.D. By:   |   May 08, 2013