Young Women’s Leadership Institute











Sunday, June 23rd,- July 5th, 2019


Sunday, July 7th- Friday, July 19th, 2019 

The Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) takes the complex relationship between gender and leadership as its focus. Participants should be curious, passionate, and willing to take risks. YWLI will allow you to develop those qualities and push you in new directions as you explore leadership through a feminist lens. You will have a unique opportunity to learn from college faculty and staff, current students, alumnae, and other professional facilitators. Reading and writing assignments, along with off-campus site visits in New York City, will all be part of your experience.

*Participants may choose to stay for the second session of YWLI to take the second course offered in the program. Participants who choose to stay for both sessions will be placed in Women Studies 101 for the first session and then into Lean In or Dig Deep: Varieties of Feminist Leadership.

Program Features: 

  • Morning Women’s Studies Course
  • Workshops led by prominent women leadership
  • Collaborative Overarching Project
  • Workplace Site Visits

Leadership Institute Curriculum:

Academic Foundation

The academic foundation of the institute will focus on gender issues, social change, and leadership in the form of a morning class. Students will choose from one of the following morning courses:

Women's Studies 101 (Laura Ciolkowski)

This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to key concepts and analytical categories in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  The course grapples with gender in its complex intersection with other systems of power and inequality, including: sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and nation.  Topics include: Reproductive Justice; Feminist Activism; Media Politics; Gender Justice and the Law; Feminist and Queer Theory; Violence; Science and Technology; Gender and Health; Economic Justice; Family.  The course will connect to the Young Women’s Leadership Institute’s broader themes, through dialogue with our sister class "Lean In Or Dig Deep" and the joint viewing of a film.  Together, we will address the rewards and the challenges of living and working as feminist scholars and leaders.


Lean In or Dig Deep: Varieties of Feminist Leadership (Michelle Smith)

In this course, we explore the theory and practice of two “models” of feminist leadership:  liberal-individualist and radical-collective.  Advocates of both models seek women’s empowerment.  However, they disagree over the means and ends of women’s activism.  Broadly, liberal feminists seek equal power in political institutions and corporations, as well as equal access to the means for social and economic advancement.  Liberal feminists may pursue “reproductive rights” and consider gender equality the mark of feminist success.  Social justice feminists seek nothing less than the end of sexism and all forms of subjugation (racial, class, sexual orientation) which sustain existing inegalitarian, sexist, racist and heteronormative structures.  Radical-collective feminists may pursue “reproductive justice” and consider the transformation of existing gender, social and economic relations success.  Lean in or Dig Deep is not an historical survey course.  Instead, we examine various contemporary representatives of each political orientation.




Afternoon Workshops

Students partake in afternoon workshops, ranging in subject matter from feminist activist organizing, to social media coalition building. Workshop leaders have included Barnard's own Jenna Freedman, Associate Director of Communications and Zine Librarian, and Jennie Correia, Research Instruction Librarian, organizers from the Women's March, and the Director of the Princeton University Women's Center. 

Leadership Lab

Working in small groups, you will design and execute a project and share what you have accomplished at a student-run conference. The Leadership Lab provides you with the opportunity to identify a problem, and, ultilizing the skills and knowledge you gained from class and workshops, work collaboratively to propose a solution to the problem. Leadership Lab groups will have the opportunity to meet with the esteemed Barnard Speaking Fellows during their week of YWLI to perfect their public speaking skills and group presentations.

Past leadership groups have:

  • Hosted an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Night to raise funds for ALS
  • Created a pamphlet to educate young girls about issues concerning positive body image
  • Developed a campaign to raise awareness for several organizations such as Amnesty International
  • Conducted research on the college experience and produced a handout to help high school students with college planning

Leaders in Action

And as if that weren't enough, Leadership Institute students will meet with women in their workplaces. These sessions introduce you to different fields and the education or professional training they require.

In past summers, students have met with professionals from organizations such as the National Organization for Women, Linden Global Strategies, LLC, Slate Magazine, Reproductive Health Access Project, the Women's Bureau of the US Department of Labor, Global Citizen, City Hall,  and Seventeen Magazine.