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CU-Boulder Women

Posted 7/12/2007

An Institutional Commitment

CU-Boulder not only strives to provide outstanding academic and extracurricular resources and opportunities for all of its students, it also is committed to recognizing and serving the specific needs and requirements of all members of its diverse community. Key components of this commitment include programs and policies that focus on ensuring gender equity:

  • The Chancellor's Committee on Women is an advocacy group for women on campus of all backgrounds, races, classes, ages, sexual orientations, political and religious beliefs, and abilities. The responsibilities of this committee include monitoring and assessing the status of women on campus—faculty, students, staff, and administrators—and recommending policy changes to assure justice and equity for women at CU-Boulder.
  • The Women's Resource Center (WRC) works for gender equity and centralizes information on services, organizations, and events. WRC distributes copies of its student-produced CU Women's Handbook to all first-year women students.
  • Established in 1974, the Women and Gender Studies Program provides internship programs and a program of undergraduate study culminating in a degree in Women's Studies. In addition to numerous other scholarly and cultural events that feature women speakers and artists, each spring the Miramontes Music and Arts Festival presents events and workshops highlighting the accomplishments of women musicians and artists.
  • The Leadership Education for Advancement and Promotion (LEAP) Program is a faculty development program aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership positions in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. LEAP has developed workshops for individuals (e.g., leadership workshops for assistant and associate professors) and at the department level (e.g., providing improved training for chairs). More broadly, LEAP aims to create a change in the University climate such that all faculty members feel supported in doing their best work and opportunities exist for all to excel. LEAP currently operates in the Office of Faculty Affairs.

CU-Boulder Women Students

At CU-Boulder, nearly half of degree-seeking undergraduate students and graduate students are women (47% and 46%, respectively).

  • More than 40% of undergraduate students majoring in math and the sciences (including engineering) are women.
  • More than a third of undergraduate business majors are women.
  • Among graduate students, just over 30% of students in math/sciences/engineering and business are women.
  • More than half of CU-Boulder law students are women.

Student Activities and Activism

CU-Boulder is one of the most active campuses in the US.

  • The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) hosts peer groups for people with shared interests, arranges interactive events, and publishes a newsletter each semester. WRC also sponsors a film fest, book discussions, art shows, and Evoke, an online journal.
  • CU-Boulder's student government controls one of the largest student union budgets in the country—more than $24 million—and offers a variety of paid, elected, and volunteer positions, many of which are filled by women.
  • The campus offers hundreds of student clubs and organizations including major-specific clubs, honor societies, ethnic clubs, environmental groups, political groups, and numerous special-interest groups ranging from a cappella singing ensembles to Zen societies.

Health and Safety

CU-Boulder health-care services include many people who understand women’s issues. The Wardenburg Student Health Center houses:

Psychological counseling is also available at Counseling and Psychological Services, where clients may request a certain type of counselor, for example, female, feminist, or Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender-friendly.

Student safety and related services are a high priority for CU-Boulder:

  • All residence halls have locked entrances with only one entrance open for late-night use.
  • All residence hall doors that lead to living areas are locked 24 hours a day.
  • For security reasons, female residents are not housed in ground floor rooms.
  • University police patrol the campus regularly and can be contacted immediately through numerous emergency call boxes—30 on campus, 16 in the parking facilities, and 5 off campus.
  • The CU Night Ride/Night Walk service provides students with police-screened volunteer student escorts on campus and throughout the city of Boulder.
  • The campus Office of Victim Assistance handles situations involving sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and sexual harassment.

Alumnae and Career Planning

Through their involvement in campus programs and organizations such as the College of Engineering and Applied Science Earn-Learn Apprenticeship Program and the Women and Gender Studies Community Advisory Board, CU-Boulder alumnae actively support students by donating time and funds to advance students’ academic and professional goals. CU-Boulder Career Planning Services (CPS) serves as a comprehensive resource offering a wealth of information on topics that include financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships for women planning to pursue advanced degrees; job search resources for women in a wide range of fields; and professional organizations and other resources for women interested in international careers. CPS also sponsors an annual Multicultural Career Fair to support diverse students, including women, students of color, and members of other underrepresented groups, who seek internships and post-graduate career opportunities. This event offers students an opportunity to speak with representatives of companies and organizations that are recruiting interns and employees. CPS services are available to CU-Boulder alumni as well as to current students.

Distinguished Alumnae. Many CU-Boulder alumnae have gone on to achieve prominence in science; business; politics, law, and public service; athletics; and the arts. Distinguished alumnae include:

  • ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF: current president of Liberia and Africa's first elected female head of state, as well as the first elected black woman head of state in the world. Prior to her inauguration as President of Liberia on January 16, 2006, she led a distinguished career spanning nearly four decades in local and international public life.

  • MARSHA SUE IVINS: U.S. astronaut; veteran of five space flights (1990-2001); logged over 1300 hours in space.

  • KALPANA CHAWLA: U.S. astronaut. Dr. Chawla was among the astronauts aboard the Columbia Shuttle, which exploded Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003.

  • JEANNE PELLEGREN JACKSON: served as CEO of Wal-Mart, president of the Banana Republic, executive V.P. of Victoria's Secret, and senior V.P. of Walt Disney Co.

  • LUCY SANDERS: inducted in September 2007 into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, one of the most prestigious recognitions for women working in technology and science. Saunders has six communications technology patents and has received the Bell Labs Fellow Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from CU-Boulder's engineering department. She is CEO and co-founder of the National Center for Women and Information Technology, which is based in CU-Boulder's ATLAS (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society) Institute. The center is a coalition of more than 100 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits working to increase women's participation in information technology.

  • ROBERTA COOPER RAMO: elected President of the American Bar Association in 1995-96, the first woman in history to head the world’s largest organization of attorneys.

  • MARILYN VAN DERBUR ATLER: social activist, motivational speaker, former Miss America (1958); has devoted much of her adult life to raising national awareness and understanding of sexual abuse and its long-term effects. In 1989 she asked the Kempe Center in Denver to develop an adult incest survivors program, for which the Van Derbur family provided $240,000; and in 1993 she co-founded two national not-for-profit organizations: the American Coalition for Abuse Awareness—dedicated to strengthening laws protecting victims and survivors of child sexual abuse; and One Voice—dedicated to breaking the sexual exploitation of children by public awareness and education. During the course of her exceptional motivational speaking career Ms. Atler has produced 24 films, two of which won national and international awards.

  • LYNNE CHENEY: Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1986-1993); editor of Washingtonian Magazine (1983-1986); author or co-author of several books; co-host of the Sunday edition of CNN's Crossfire (1995-1998); Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; wife of vice president Dick Cheney.

  • DEDE BARRY: elite cyclist; won silver in the 2004 Summer Olympics in the women's time trial; two gold medals at the Pan American Games; two World Championship medals; six National Championship titles.

  • MARY DECKER SLANEY: world-class track athlete; the fastest woman at every distance between 800 and 10,000 meters (1982); at the first-ever World Track and Field Championships in Helsinki (1983), she had gold-medal finishes in both the 1,500 and 3,000-meter races; Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year (1983).

Olympic figure skater DEBI THOMAS, singer JUDY COLLINS, and actress JOAN VAN ARK also attended CU-Boulder.

Women's Athletics

CU-Boulder offers comprehensive sports participation opportunities for college women at all levels of expertise and commitment.

  • The University participates in NCAA Division I inter-collegiate sports, where our female students compete in basketball, cross-country, golf, skiing, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Athletic scholarships are available for women in all of these sports.
  • CU-Boulder women’s athletic teams have recently won national championships in cross country (NCAA 2004) and soccer (National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association 2003). 
  • CU-Boulder maintains one of largest collegiate club sports programs in the nation and is consistently ranked in the top five in the nation for both the athletic and academic performance of its teams, about a quarter of which are women’s teams and half of which are co-ed.
  • Each year over 12,000 students take part in the campus intramural sports program, which offers team competition in men's, women's, and co-ed divisions.

A number of CU-Boulder female student athletes have gone on to play professional sports. These include:

  • Professional basketball players Tera Bjorklund, Virginia Delepine, Kate Fagan, Isabelle Fijalkowski, Britt Hartshorn, Veronica Johns-Richardson, Jamillah Lang, Jenny Roulier, Erin Scholz, Raegan Scott, Sabrina Scott, Shelley Sheetz, Lisa Van Goor, and Randie Wirt
  • Alpine skiers Pam Fletcher and Beth Madsen
  • Mountain biker Julie Furtado
  • Runner Shayne Wille Culpepper
  • Snowboarder Shannon Dunn
  • Beach volleyball player Rachel Wacholder
  • Golfer Erin Kerr

Fletcher, Madsen, Furtado, Culpepper, and Dunn have also competed in the Olympics, as have ten other alumnae (in luge, track and field, alpine skiing, and Nordic skiing).

Much of this information was originally collected for the PRINCETON REVIEW/COSMOGIRL SURVEY in May 2007.

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