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May 25, 2010

‘Half the Sky’ for All Incoming Smith College Students


Sheryl WuDunn will join us during orientation to discuss "Half the Sky" on Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Less than a year after it was published, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which makes the case that women are the world’s most effective change agents, seemed like a “well, duh” summer reading selection for incoming undergraduates of this prestigious women’s college.  

Co-authored by award-winning writers Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the book has been roundly lauded as “both a brutal awakening and unmistakable call to action.” Those were Melinda Gates’ words and a sentiment echoed on the book’s Web site by other recognizable names such as Tom Brokaw and Angelina Jolie.

3The authors write that more girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century, and detail the rampant gendercide in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan.

Far from merely making moral appeals, according to Publishers Weekly, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women – nine percent in Pakistan, for example –participate in the labor force.

Among other examples, they write that China's meteoric rise was due to women's economic empowerment. Eighty percent of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese. 

“Education for leadership – for global women’s leadership – is the promise that Smith makes to students and to the world,” Smith President Carol T. Christ noted in her recent State of the College address.

As part of orientation, students will discuss the book in small groups led by a faculty or staff member. Typically, the author will join students for a reading and reflection, followed by an opportunity to ask questions and a book signing.

Twenty-nine percent of 4,015 applicants to the Smith College Class of 2014 – the largest in Smith’s history – were students with citizenship outside the United States, with China as the most-represented country.

And the college’s Praxis internship program recently enabled students to gain valuable experience in places such as the Tibetan Children’s Village in India and a healthcare clinic in the Dominican Republic.

Kristof, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and WuDunn, an investment adviser with a focus on philanthropy, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China. Kristof also won a second Pulitzer Prize for his commentary on human rights issues, along with the Michael Kelly Award, the Online News Association Award and the ASNE Award. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College and then studied law at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.

WuDunn, the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer, has been an executive at The New York Times and worked in finance at Goldman Sachs and Bankers Trust. She graduated from Cornell University and has master’s degrees from Harvard Business School and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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