3 Surprising advantages of attending an all-women's college

Many students are understandably curious about the dynamics of a single-sex college or university. Earning a degree at an all-women's college like Mount Mary University (MMU) comes with a number of distinct benefits, but it’s not unusual to wonder what to expect from the social atmosphere when pursuing an all-women’s education.

To make an informed decision, it’s helpful to review the facts about all-women’s institutions and consider the experiences of their female students and graduates. You might be surprised to see how learning in a diverse, female-centric environment can provide graduates with certain advantages in the workplace.


All-women’s schools at a glance

The earliest women’s colleges were founded in the late 1800s, at a time when women had little access to opportunities for advanced education. They’ve certainly evolved since that time, but many remain rooted in the conviction that everyone, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or background, should have access to an education.

Mount Mary University traces its history back to 1872, when it was the only institution of higher learning for women west of the Allegheny Mountains on the East Coast. In 1913, the school officially became a college, moving to its current location in Milwaukee in the late 1920s.

Today, MMU is one of approximately 40 women’s colleges in the country.

According to the Women’s College Coalition, enrollment at all-women’s colleges is on par with that of co-ed institutions in the U.S., and enrollment trends among women of color are particularly strong. Retention is often higher in all-female education models, as are overall rates of degree completion. 

“I feel as though I have a greater voice here, and I love that we explore issues on such a deep level in our classes.”

- MMU student Emily Blazer ’24

3 Benefits of an all-women's education

It’s clear that pursuing a college degree at an all-female institution can lead to some positive student outcomes. So, what are some of the elements of an all-women's education that lead to such strong results? Consider the following:

1. Building leadership in challenging times

As awareness grows of the problems rooted in sexism and privilege, more young women are drawn to the empowering qualities embedded in an all-women’s education. In fact, applications to women’s colleges have been rising steadily over the years.

At MMU, all students take a Leadership for Social Justice class that helps them build a foundation for their roles within their communities. Current students and grads believe that studying these topics in an all-women’s environment helps them build confidence to lead.

English major Amy Blazer notes that MMU has deepened her understanding of what it means to be a woman. At her coed high school, she said she never took the opportunity to sit down with other girls and get their perspective on gender-related issues without male input.

“I feel as though I have a greater voice here, and I love that we explore issues on such a deep level in our classes,” Blazer explains. She believes she’s grown as a leader by learning to insert her perspective during challenging conversations — a skill set she plans to carry forward into her eventual teaching career.

2. Diverse voices are needed in tech and other professions

Because the curriculum at MMU is designed especially for women, the programs and faculty are committed to creating safe spaces that inspire innovation and creativity while also fostering a strong sense of community.

Women’s schools have seen an increased interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors among their students — fields in which skilled female professionals are greatly needed. According to recent data, approximately 23 percent of MMU students major in STEM programs.

Students at all-women's colleges like MMU don’t just learn the skills required to be successful in their fields. They also gain the confidence they’ll need to step up and become part of building a future that is representative of all.

One real-time example of this taking place at Mount Mary University is the upcoming launch of the school’s new User Experience (UX) Design program. This dynamic tech profession needs skilled women to join the workforce, and MMU is eager to help guide female students into the in-demand, well-paying profession of UX Design.

Even in fields that have been more traditionally female-focused, MMU has taken a role in advancing the professional scope and status for women. Interior architecture and design students at MMU, for example, participated in the legislative process in getting one of the most progressive bills for professional interior designers passed in Wisconsin. Students welcomed state legislators to campus, testified at multiple hearings in Madison, and attended various advocacy events. 

“My professors have prepared me to face challenges, nurtured me to be secure in who I am, and taught me to advocate for myself and others,” says Trisha Xiong, who graduated from MMU with a biology-health sciences degree in 2022. “They remind us that we shouldn’t have to fight for a place in male-dominated fields. We deserve to be there based on our work ethic and qualifications.”

“I’ve realized within my first year that all-women’s colleges are instruments of change.”

- MMU student Mary Parlier ’24

3. Women’s colleges provide students with a sense of belonging

It’s not unusual for undergraduate students at MMU to feel their sense of purpose grow as they work their way through their college education — and they’re often enthusiastic about the environment right from the very beginning.

“I realized within my first year that all-women’s colleges are instruments of change,” offers current MMU student Mary Parlier, who is studying Spanish, mathematics, and education.

“I originally didn’t love the idea of an all-women’s college,” she admits. “I was nervous that my laid-back personality wouldn’t be a great fit. But when I came here, my entire perspective changed. Students are more willing to learn and share because we all have the common thread of being women. It’s powerful.”

Parlier isn’t alone in this feeling.  In fact, it’s been found that 72 percent of graduates from all-women’s schools indicate feeling “completely satisfied” with the quality of their experiences in college — a rate higher than their coed counterparts.

The all-women’s advantage

The confidence, leadership and perseverance ingrained in an all-women’s education model is displayed clearly in the authentic stories of its students and the reported outcomes of its graduates.

If you’re passionate about elevating your skills, making your voice heard, and ensuring your presence has an impact in today’s world, you may find what you’re looking for with an all-women's education. Learn more about Mount Mary University’s all-women's advantage today.