Chatham University

Where women leaders thrive.

Women's Leadership & Gender Equity at Chatham University

We've been empowering women for almost 150 years.
When the Pennsylvania Female College (today Chatham University) was founded in 1869, women were frequently blocked from higher education. Despite many gains in the years since, women still face persistent social, political, and economic inequalities.

Chatham maintains its historic commitment to women's leadership and gender equity.
We were ranked in the top three schools nationwide for aspiring women leaders, and our graduates include Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser '94 and environmental pioneer Rachel Carson '29, named by TIME Magazine as one of the most powerful women of the 20th century.

Notable women leaders recently at Chatham include:

Where we excel

Training and Skill Development icon image

+ Training & Skill Development

Whether it's how to start and grow a business, enter politics, negotiate a first salary, or speak in public, we teach students and program participants the skills they need to be leaders–and then provide sustained opportunities for them to continue their development.

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+ Mentoring & Advising

The hallmark of Chatham's programs is personalized, one-on-one advising. In and out of the classroom, in formal and informal educational settings, our programs offer extensive mentoring to help women overcome gendered obstacles and become leaders in their fields.

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+ Role Models & Networking

Every year, Chatham hosts dozens of leading women in their fields as speakers, panelists, scholars and special guests. Students and participants in our programs have numerous opportunities to network with these inspiring women and other outstanding leaders.


Peer Community

+ Peer Community

Whether it's living and learning with like-minded students, or coming together through our outreach programs, women's peer-to-peer interaction supports leadership development by providing space for validation and opportunities for discussion. These relationships also nurture and sustain us in careers as we promote gender equity in our organizations.

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+ Social Change

Promoting women's leadership and gender equity requires the continued work of social and cultural change. We offer programs that help break down structural barriers, engage men in the work of gender equality and preventing violence, teach advocacy and activism, and support a more just and equitable society.


Engaging the Community

Alumni Relations logo

Center for Women's Entrepreneurship logo

Women's Business Center logo

Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics logo

Women's Institute logo

Inside the Classroom

As a fully gender inclusive university, we continue our historic commitment to advancing the causes of women's leadership, empowerment, and gender equity in the classroom. Our academic initiatives build on our history of innovative education while maintaining our values and helping students become the social change makers of the future.

Women and Gender Studies Program

Women's & Gender Studies Program

Students can major and minor in Women's & Gender Studies

Women's Leadership Certificate Program

Women's Leadership Certificate Program

Students in any major can add a certificate in Women's Leadership

Women's Leadership Course

Women's Leadership Course

All students can take "Women's Leadership in the 21st Century"

Intergroup Dialogue Course

Intergroup Dialogue Course

Students can learn how to lead conversations about gender

Outside the Classroom

Chatham University offers a wide variety of activities outside the classroom for graduate and undergraduate students interested in women's leadership and gender equity, including places to live, scholarships, clubs, special events, lectures, films, retreats, and so much more! Signature programs include:

▶ Women's Leadership Living Learning Community

  • The Women's Institute provides special programming for the LLC, housed in historic Laughlin Hall (take a tour!), and students plan activities and events that promote women's leadership and gender equity on campus and in the community.

▶ Scholarships for Women Leaders

  • The Heffer Family Scholarship for Women is a $10,000 annually renewable scholarship awarded to female students who have a proven record of academic achievement, leadership capacity, as well as community and co-curricular involvement. Learn more and apply »

  • The Vira I. Heinz Scholarship Program for Women in Global Leadership is intended to develop cross-cultural competency with a focus on international leadership. It is granted to three or more female Chatham students during their sophomore or junior year. Learn more and apply »

  • The Barbara Stone Hollander '60 Student Leadership Award is granted to a female Chatham student for a hands-on practical experience in leadership development related to a program outside the academic track in the areas of government internships, community involvement, or like programs.

▶ National Education for Women (NEW) Leadership

  • The National Education for Women's (NEW) Leadership Pennsylvania is an intensive, week–long, residential leadership and public policy institute designed to educate and empower young women for future political participation and leadership. Learn more and apply to NEW Leadership now »

▶ Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) Seminars

  • Chatham University is a founding member of PLEN, which offers Washington, DC-based seminars and internships focused on women and public policy, such as women, law, and legal advocacy; women and congress; women in public policy; women in health policy; and women in global policy. Learn more and apply to PLEN now »

▶ Women of the World (W.O.W.) Retreats

  • The W.O.W. Retreat is an annual leadership retreat open to all graduate and undergraduate women. Each year, the weekend-long retreat engages participants in a series of facilitations, discussions, and activities focused on a different theme related to leadership. Learn more and apply to W.O.W. now »

▶ T.G.I.F. (Talking About Gender Issues Fridays)

  • Weekly coffee and cookie hour open to all students, faculty, and staff; hosted by the Women's Institute to discuss gender issues in politics, current events, pop culture, and campus happenings.

Leadership Skills Development

▶ Career Support

In collaboration with the Women's Institute and Diversity Dialogues, the Office of Career Development offers a "Diversity in Career" series, with programs on:

  • Dress for success for gender non-conforming students
  • Salary negotiation strategies
  • LGBTQIA in the workplace
  • Discrimination in the workplace

Career Development also offers a free "professional dress closet" that ensures that all women have access to clothing for interviews and networking events, and office attire.

▶ Student Clubs

Develop your leadership skills through dozens of student organizations, including these focused on women and gender:

▶ Student Government Opportunities

▶ Athletics

  • Enhance your leadership skills through participation in athletics. Learn more »
  • Be a leader on campus through the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Learn more »
  • Participate in national conferences, workshops, and honor programs for female student athletes.

▶ Other Leadership & Skills Programs

  • The Bonner Leaders program is a national service leadership program that allows students to earn their federal work study funds while serving our local community.
  • The Chatham Honors program is an interdisciplinary challenge that engages students in and out of the classroom.
  • R.I.S.E. is a program that provides new students of color with a mentor, institutional support and a series of co-curricular programming throughout a two-year transition period into college.
  • The Social Activism Institute is a one-credit course that allows students to become change agents in their local communities and beyond through a series of classroom discussions and educational seminars.

Chatham University faculty are experts in the scholarship and pedagogical practice of promoting women's leadership and gender equity. The Women's Institute provides them with continued professional development and consultation on issues of gender equity in the classroom and beyond.

Women's Institute Affiliated Faculty

More than 1/3rd of Chatham's faculty are affiliated with the Women's Institute. Learn more »

Visiting Scholars

Each year the Women's Institute hosts Visiting Scholars working on cutting-edge gender research. Learn more »


The Scholar-in-Residence works closely with students and gives public lectures. Learn more »

Scholarship Support


The Women's Institute has limited funding to support faculty and student research on topics related to women's leadership and gender equity. We also have a small pool of resources to support conference attendance to present findings. Contact the Women's Institute for details »


The Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium (PGSC) is a collective of scholars from universities across Southwestern PA working on women, girls, gender, and sexuality. The consortium hosts writing retreats, brown bags, social events, and more. The Women's Institute provides administrative support. Learn more and get on the mailing list »

▶ Annual Gender Symposium

An annual gender symposium pulls together cutting edge scholars with community leaders to bridge theory and practice related to women, girls, gender, and sexuality. Learn more »


Chatham University Rea House

Chatham University ranked in top 3 in nation for women's leadership



Chatham University Women's Business Center Captures National Honors from US Small Business Administration

Chatham's Women Business Center Captures National Honors from the U.S. Small Business Administration


Chatham University Chapel and view to downtown Pittsburgh

Chatham recognized as one of the top "Admired Institutions for Women's Empowerment"




Upcoming Events

Just Films - No Mas Bebes

This event is free and open to the public. No Más Bebés tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive justice, when a


Ready to Run Pittsburgh

Ready to Run is a non-partisan program for women who want to run for office, seek higher office, work on a campaign, get appointed to office


Just Films - Netizens

This event is free and open to the public. Netizens delves into the lives of three women whose lives have been transformed by online harassm


Ready to Run Philadelphia

Ready to Run is a non-partisan program for women who want to run for office, seek higher office, work on a campaign, get appointed to office


See more upcoming events »

To support a welcoming and inclusive living, learning, and working environment at Chatham University, we use an intersectional social justice approach that recognizes the interlocking nature of power systems that often must be addressed simultaneously. Campus partners include:

▶ Diversity and Inclusion Council

The Council initiates actions and empowers Chatham University to build a diverse and inclusive community through dialogue, education, research, self-reflection, and engagement. Learn more »

▶ Title IX Office

Title IX and related legislation prohibit sex discrimination in educational programs including sex and gender-based harassment, sexual violence, relationship and interpersonal violence, and stalking. Chatham's Title IX Office works to prevent such instances of sex discrimination from occurring on campus, and, if an instance of sex discrimination is brought to the Office’s attention, will work to stop it if it is still occurring, prevent it from happening again, and help those who’ve experienced it. Learn more »

▶ Office of Multicultural Affairs

Multicultural Affairs leads efforts to build and sustain a diverse and culturally vibrant campus, promoting multicultural education and student success and retention. Learn more »

Chatham Values

Gender & Sexual Violence Prevention

Chatham University is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe learning, living, and working environment where healthy, respectful, and consensual conduct represents the campus cultural norm.

▶ Gender and Sexual Violence Prevention Committee

A committee of the Diversity and Inclusion Council convened by the Women's Institute, this group includes gender scholars from across campus who help consult on programs that shift gender culture to prevent violence.

▶ Chatham Men's Project

Engages men and male-identified students and faculty in regular dialogue sessions about masculinity, culture, and the role men can play in creating change around violence. A collaborative project of the Women’s Institute and the Office of Student Affairs.

▶ Green Dot Program

Green Dot is a national bystander program that aims to reduce rates of personal power-based violence. This is any violence where a person uses power to harm another; including sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. This programs empowers our community – students, faculty, and staff – to take small actions that can make a big difference in making our campus community safe. Green Dot has been proven to reduce rates and raise awareness of personal power-based violence. Chatham launched Green Dot in Spring 2018 by conducting faculty and staff overview talks and is moving into the launch phase with students in Fall 2018.

▶ Programs for Athletes

  • Coaching Boys into Men
  • One Love Project

▶ First Year and Orientation Programs

Chatham First Year and Orientation Programs help students get acclimated to Chatham's campus culture, knowledgeable of the services and opportunities available to them as students, and comfortable with college life as a whole.

It's On Us Week of Action

It’s On Us is a national movement to end sexual assault. Each Fall, Chatham raises awareness about collegiate sexual assault through It's On Us Action Week. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to take the pledge and participate in activities to raise awareness.

▶ Sexual Assault Awareness Month

A student-led committee plans events each April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Month includes lunch and learns, awareness campaigns, documentary screenings, and culminates with a speak out, such as Take Back the Night or the 2018 #MeToo Rally, to empower survivors and allies.


Research in Development

  • Long Purple Line Study
  • Campus Climate Survey

LGBTQIA+ Initiatives

Chatham is committed to a campus environment that is supportive and engaging for students who identify across the gender spectrum and sexual identity spectrum, including those who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, gender queer, and gender non-conforming. Campus partners include:


Contact us for more about how you can get involved with women's leadership and gender equity at Chatham University.



Specify a designation for areas supporting women's leadership and gender equity when you give to Chatham to support our students.


Join us

See our upcoming events and plan to attend one of the many offerings we provide to promote women's leadership and gender equity.