The Atlantic

How Princeton Is Trying to Get More Women to Be Student Leaders

A committee the university formed had one main recommendation: more mentorship.

Source: Dominick Reuter / Reuters

In the fall of 2009, there were nine candidates for president of Princeton’s freshman class. All nine were white men.

Concerned by this fact, a group of Princeton faculty and administrators began gathering data about gender diversity on campus. They found that, over the past 29 years, Princeton had only six female chairs of the honor committee, nine female editors-in-chief of the college newspaper, and four female student-body presidents.

And so the university did what all universities do when faced with a pressing problem: It formed a committee. The Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership spent a year researching the female undergraduate experience, ultimately proposing a series of ways to narrow to the gender gap in Princeton’s student leadership. Its most significant recommendation was simple: More women need mentors.

For The Atlantic’s series “On the Shoulders of Giants,” I spoke with Nannerl Keohane, the president

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