Graduation from any level of education is significant, but this year, there is added meaning to the ceremonies.
According to the Associated Press, 2018 marks a milestone in U.S. college graduation exercises, as “the majority of the nation’s top colleges are featuring women as their spring commencement speakers” for the first time in at least two decades. The impetus behind the change? AP reports that industry experts are crediting the swing toward female speaks to the #MeToo movement that has reignited the flame of female empowerment in the United States and around the world.
And the increase in female commencement speakers this year is significant; AP reports that this year, “women account for nearly 60 percent of the speakers at the 25 schools that have the largest endowments and traditionally carry the clout to draw big names to the lectern.” In previous years, however, AP says women accounted for a mere quarter of the speakers at those same schools over the past 19 years.
While AP says that while some universities said the #MeToo movement didn’t specifically shape their decisions, companies hired to find commencement speakers said that they’ve seen a major increase in requests for women that correlated with the timing of the the #MeToo movement’s inception and takeoff.
“There’s been a much bigger push to bring in white females, black females — anyone other than a white male,” said Richard Schelp, owner of Executive Speakers Bureau.
So just who are some of the women speaking at graduations this year? For starters, Sheryl Sandberg will do the honors of delivering a commencement address at MIT, according to AP, while Dartmouth will host Mindy Kaling. Not to mention Amal Clooney will descend upon Vanderbilt, while AP says Hillary Clinton will return to her alma mater and speak at Yale’s commencement.