Northwestern tops list of schools for wealthy women alumni

Junnie Kwon, Reporter

A study conducted by a market research firm showed that Northwestern has the highest percentage of wealthy alumnae in comparison to 18 other universities, including Harvard University and Princeton University.

The firm, Wealth-X, studied 20 universities with the highest number of alumni who have $30 million or more in assets, or what the company calls “ultra-high-net-worth individuals.” Brown University tied with NU for the top spot, with women at both universities making up 15 percent of each university’s wealthy alumni. Two-fifths of these individuals from both universities obtained their net worth “strictly from inheritance,” according to Quartz’s analysis of the study.

The comparatively high percentage of Northwestern alumnae may be due to the University’s prestigious business school and active alumni outreach initiatives, said Renee Redd, director of Northwestern University’s Women’s Center. She said the University has had a gradual increase in the number of women in various academic departments, noting that NU has one of the highest percentages of female engineering majors.

“Having a higher number of women in those kinds of positions that are not traditionally occupied could certainly mean that we have a higher percentage of women in higher-paying occupations,” she said.

The increase in women’s enrollment over the decades and the creation of the Women’s Center, which opened its doors in 1986 in conjunction with what is now the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, has improved the climate for Northwestern women on campus, said Njoki Kamau, associate director of the Center.

“All I can say is that the study bodes well for women students at Northwestern … (and shows) that they’re getting an education that helps them to do great things in life,” she said.

Since its inception, the Women’s Center has worked toward making significant advances in and keeping track of gender equity at NU. These responsibilities include supervising pay equity and the pattern of women advancing to tenure, Redd said. The Center also recently collaborated with the Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence in receiving a grant to hire a survivor advocate and educate all University Police personnel about sexual assault, she said.

NU’s high percentage of wealthy alumnae may also be a result of its resources as a private university. Of the 20 schools evaluated in the study, only three were public universities, according to Quartz. Private universities tend to have more resources to better equip their students, said Kamau.

Like Kamau, SESP sophomore Frances Fu finds the study encouraging for female students at NU. She said she remembers listening to former Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers speak about her book, “Why Women Should Rule the World,” at NU in November 2011.

“I have a very biased view,” said Fu, who works for the Women’s Center. “NU is pretty good about offering resources (to women) based on my experience, but there’s definitely a long way to go.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Dee Dee Myers’ position. She was President Bill Clinton’s Press Secretary. The Daily regrets the error.