How College Women Define Empowerment

what empowerment means to college women

em·pow·er·ment  /əmˈpouərmənt/ noun

The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.


The face of feminism and women empowerment is changing.

NPR reports that a new poll from public opinion research firm Perry Undem found that the top three out for the four most famous feminists are Beyonce, Michelle Obama, and Oprah. This poll included 1,300 people of different ages, races and genders, which sends a strong message especially among concerns of intersectionality within the feminist movement.

This report, and reflecting on the controversy over the closely associated term of empowerment, made us wonder what college women actually think about the word.

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After speaking with students from campuses including Manhattan College and John Jay College, I have found that women are empowered by defying the odds and wanting to prove to everyone that they are worth it. I asked the women on campus a series of questions; What does empowerment mean to you? How does it inspire and motivate you in your daily activities?

These are their responses:

Katie Compton a Junior at Manhattan College studying english and peace studies:

  • “I believe empowerment means to act upon the dreams you’ve had for so long.  There’s something about achieving those dreams that sets a spark inside of me that keeps me wanting more.  Taking control of your own life is incredibly empowering-standing up for what you believe in, and taking action.”

Siena Toscano a sophomore at John Jay College of Criminal Justice studying human resource management says:

  • “Women empowerment to me is the ability to feel like you can accomplish anything. No matter what gender, size, religion, or race you identify with. It makes me believe that once I set my mind to something nothing can stop me. That mind set is what gives me the ability to go forward everyday trying something new and being bold.”

Gina Leoncavallo a sophomore at Manhattan college studying Biology states:

  • “Empowerment to me means that I will be allowed to do anything that I set my mind to, knowing that gender is not a barrier. It comforts me knowing that in the past young women have done it before me. And that there are women out there that overcome far more obstacles pursing the same goal I am than I have.”
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