Women's Institute

Promoting women's leadership and gender equity through education, research, and outreach.

The Women's Institute continues the legacy of Chatham University's historic commitment to women's leadership and gender equity.
We serve as a hub to draw together the university's broad range of gender initiatives, resources, and academic programs. Through education, research, and outreach, we work across campus and into the community promoting social, political, and economic equality.

Women leaders thrive at Chatham University.
We were ranked in the top three schools nationwide for aspiring women leaders. And TIME Magazine named Chatham's most famous alumna, the environmental pioneer Rachel Carson '29, one of the most powerful women of the 20th century.

Recent women leaders hosted by the Women's Institute include:

  • Alice Walker
  • Jolly Okot
  • Allie Crossley
  • Alison Brooks
  • Jennifer Epps Addison

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.

Academic Programs Supported by the Women's Institute

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."

Outside the Classroom

The Women's Institute sponsors a wide variety of activities outside the classroom for graduate and undergraduate students interested in women's leadership and gender equity. We recognize that gender intersects with other power structures, including race, class, sexual identity, national origin, religion and more – and therefore our feminism is intersectional. Honoring Chatham's values of inclusion, diversity, and respect, we use a social justice lens to practice gender equity and center those in our work who have historically been most marginalized.

▶ 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.

▶ Student Scholarships

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.

▶ Lecture and Film Series

  • The Barbara Stone Hollander '60 Lecture in Women's Leadership brings nationally recognized women to campus each year to work closely with students and give a public lecture. Learn more »

  • The Women's Institute Distinguished Speaker Series hosts leading women in their fields. Learn more about a recent Distinguished Speaker event »

  • The Just Films Series is a collaboration of the Women's Institute, Gwen's Girls, Women & Girls Foundation, Women's Law Project, and YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. Monthly screenings of documentaries about gender and social justice are followed by panel discussions featuring local experts and activists. Learn more »

▶ Student Clubs & Programs

  • The Women's Institute sponsors the Chatham Feminist Coalition. Learn more »

  • We co-sponsor many student-initiated lectures and events on campus every year. Tell us your idea!

  • We co-sponsor programs with campus partners such as the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Alumni Relations, and Career Development.

▶ 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.

▶ Gender and Sexual Violence Prevention

The Women's Institute convenes the Gender and Sexual Violence Prevention Committee of the Diversity and Inclusion Council. We are also involved in policies and programs promoting a diverse and welcoming campus climate for LGBTQIA+ students.

  • The 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 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 program 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.

Chatham University faculty are experts in the scholarship and pedagogical practice of promoting women's leadership and gender equity. The Women's Institute provides 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 »

Research Support

▶ Research and Conference Funds

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 »

▶ Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium

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 »

Public Scholarship

Our director regularly presents invited talks in the community about issues related to women, girls, women's leadership, and gender equity. Recent topics include:

  • "On Mother's Day: The Status of Women, Girls, and Gender Equity," Westminster Speaker Series.
  • "#MeToo and Lessons from the History of Anti-Gender Violence Activism," Labor and Employment Relations Association.
  • "Gender and Inequality in the Age of Neoliberalism," Humanities Center Marx@200 Series, Carnegie Mellon University.
  • "Repression and Resistance: The Legacy of Tera Hunter's 'To 'Joy My Freedom'," A Symposium on Black Feminist Histories, University of Virginia.
  • "Gender, Underwear, and the Body," Frick Art and Historical Center.
  • "Taking Stock of Women's Status in the Post-Election Era," American Association of University Women.
  • "Gender Equality in the 21st Century," Longwood at Oakmont Lecture Series.
  • "Gender and Those Killer Heels," Frick Art and Historical Center.
  • "Gender, Neoliberalism, and the Fight for the Public Good," Sarah Lawrence College.
  • "Gender and the History of Toys, 1950s-1970s," Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh.


Chatham University Rea House

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



Chatham University Chapel and view to downtown Pittsburgh

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



image Mayor's Gender Equity Commission

Mayor's Gender Equity Commission Announces Executive Committee Election Results



Upcoming Events


Oct 27

+ Add to Calendar 10/27/2020 11:30AM 10/27/2020 12:30PM 15 Just Films - Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America UNSETTLED is a feature-length documentary revealing the untold stories of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution from their home countries and who are resettling in the U.S. The film follows four new arrivals, each of whom have escaped potential peril in their native countries for being different. They’ve landed in the purported “gay mecca” of San Francisco, yet even there, building a new life in an adopted nation is a precarious undertaking. As new leadership in America continues to restrict immigrants and drastically cut the flow of refugees and asylum seekers, UNSETTLED sheds light on a group about which few people know. What are the costs persecuted immigrants pay for seeking refuge? And how are everyday Americans stepping forward to help those most in need? STREAM FOR FREE HERE Panelists: Cara Wimberley (they/them/theirs) is a Service Coordinator with the Immigrant Services and Connections Program at Literacy Pittsburgh. They previously taught ESL as a Compass AmeriCorps member at Literacy Pittsburgh. They studied psychology, linguistics, and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Mary Washington. They co-chair the LGBTQ+ subcommittee of the Immigrants & Internationals Advisory Council at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. They are also a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Allegra B. Elson (she/her/hers) is an English Language Learning ( ELL) Instructor for Classroom and Employer Services at Literacy Pittsburgh. She has a TESOL Certificate from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Master’s degree in Italian Language and Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. She is the co-chair of the Immigrants & Internationals Advisory Council at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services along with co-chairing its LGBTQ+ subcommittee. She is also a proud member the LGBTQ+ community. Good Docs streaming link below. Panel discussion via zoom Melody Harris m.harris@chatham.edu

Just Films - Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America

UNSETTLED is a feature-length documentary revealing the untold stories of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecutio



Nov 10

+ Add to Calendar 11/10/2020 12:00PM 11/10/2020 1:00PM 15 Women and Leadership: Navigating the Labyrinth in K-12 and Higher Ed
Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium
Join the Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium for a brown bag series, featuring members discussing their current work. Come learn about some cutting edge gender research, stay connected with scholars across the Pittsburgh region, and meet some new colleagues. The presentations will be approximately 15 minutes each, to give plenty of time for discussion and networking. Register for the zoom link, then grab your lunch and your laptop and join us!” More about PGSC: The Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium (PGSC) is a network of academics in Southwest Pennsylvania interested in women and girls, gender, and sexuality. The consortium: Pittsburgh Gender Scholars promotes connections between scholars, across disciplines, and among academic institutions. Facilitates conversations and critical debate engaging intersectional approaches to research and pedagogical practice. Provides opportunities for networking and learning about emerging scholarship, community partners, and resources. The PGSC is administratively supported by the Women’s Institute at Chatham University.Woman and Leadership: Navigating the Labyrinth in K-12 and Higher EdLike never before, women are outpacing men in education and flooding the pipeline at unprecedented rates. This increase, however, is not translating to a greater number of women serving as leaders in k-12 and higher education. In their independent research, Shannon and Jennifer discovered that a woman’s leadership journey is filled with complex routes and unforeseen barriers to navigate like 2nd generation bias, sexism, the double bind, a lack of mentorship, and work/life balance issues. Join them for a look into these challenges, how women confront them, and discuss the potential long-term impact of a pandemic on women’s progress in the workplace. Panelists: Shannon Foster, Ph.D., Research Designer and Analyst, Office of Institutional Research and Analysis , Carnegie Mellon University Jennifer A. Shuman, Ph.D., Special Education Coordinator and Pupil Services Director for the Richland School District, Johnstown, PA zoom Melody Harris m.harris@chatham.edu

Women and Leadership: Navigating the Labyrinth in K-12 and Higher Ed
Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium

Join the Pittsburgh Gender Scholars Consortium for a brown bag series, featuring members discussing their current work. Come learn about som



Nov 17

+ Add to Calendar 11/17/2020 11:30AM 11/17/2020 12:30PM 15 Just Films - Waging Change Waging Change, a new documentary featuring Saru Jayaraman, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, who have been working tirelessly for One Fair Wage, weaves together the female driven movements that reveal an American workers’ struggle hidden in plain sight– the effort to end the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 for restaurant servers and bartenders and the #MeToo movement’s efforts to end sexual harassment. The film shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by restaurant workers trying to feed themselves and their families by intertwining stories of individuals, such as Nataki Rhodes of Chicago, Andrea Velasquez of Detroit and Wardell Harvey of New Orleans with the growing movement to end the tipped minimum wage, spearheaded by One Fair Wage and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC-United). Directed by Peabody award winner, Abby Ginzberg, Waging Change helps all consumers see the important role they have to play in ending this two-tiered wage system. The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the extreme challenges confronted by tipped restaurant workers and other tipped workers such as car service drivers and delivery workers. We hope you will consider helping those who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods by donating to the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, which is providing cash assistance to tipped workers in need, many of whom will not qualify for unemployment benefits. To date, over 60,000 workers have applied to the Fund for help. Melody Harris m.harris@chatham.edu

Just Films - Waging Change

Waging Change, a new documentary featuring Saru Jayaraman, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, who have been working tirelessly for One Fair Wage, w


Just Films - (In)Visible Portraits

(In)Visible Portraits shatters the too-often invisible otherizing of Black women in America and reclaims the true narrative as told in their


See more women's leadership and gender equity events »

Chatham has been empowering women for almost 150 years. When the Pennsylvania Female College (now 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.

Today, Chatham University maintains its leadership role and historic commitment to women's education and gender equity. In 2014, the Board of Trustees established the Chatham University Women's Institute, which launched in 2015 with the hiring of inaugural director, Dr. Jessie Ramey. Its purpose on campus is to ensure the thoughtful continuation of the resources Chatham has – and will continue to have – in enhancing education for women and gender equality in all aspects of campus curriculum and campus life.

The Women's Institute provides a range of activities and opportunities for students, faculty, alumnae, and the community and helps support and coordinate the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship, Women's Business Center, Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics, and the Women's and Gender Studies Program.


Jessie Ramey, PhD

Jessie B. Ramey, Ph.D.

Director and Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies
jramey@chatham.edu • (412) 365-1446

Jessie B. Ramey, Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Women's Institute at Chatham University and Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies. She is a historian of gender, race, working families, and U.S. social policy. Dr. Ramey was named one of the top "people to know" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; one of "5 People Making Pittsburgh a More Livable City for All," by NEXT Pittsburgh; and was invited twice to President Obama's White House to discuss education policy. Pittsburgh City Council appointed her as an inaugural member of the Gender Equity Commission, and she serves on the Mayor's Task Force on Women in Public Art. Read more.

Melody Harris

Melody Harris

Program Coordinator
m.harris@chatham.edu • (412) 365-1578

Melody Harris has a background in event planning and program support in the philanthropic and non-profit sector. At Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, she worked with the region's foundation community. A graduate of Edinboro University and Leadership Pittsburgh, Melody has taught as an adjunct in women's studies at Carlow University. She has also served on the board of the Pittsburgh chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and the junior board of the Andy Warhol Museum.

Affiliated Faculty

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

Visiting Scholars

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

Scholar in Residence

The Scholar in Residence works closely with students in classes, small groups, and gives public lectures. This position is by invitation only. Learn more »


Chatham University Women's Institute
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
(412) 365-1578

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