The Sylvia Donaldson Society for Women in Politics

The Sylvia Donaldson Society is an organization for politically-minded women at Stonehill College. It is nonpartisan society of undergraduate students from different academic disciplines. The purpose of the organization is to empower women on campus to pursue careers in public affairs. The Sylvia Donaldson Society accomplishes this by sponsoring large-scale Martin Institute events, as well as providing small group programs, panels and workshops exclusively for Society members.

The Sylvia Donaldson Society was created to encourage greater participation by women in politics and public affairs. For example, though women represent half of the population, they only make up about 19% of the US Congress. We believe that one reason women are so grossly underrepresented in the halls of power is because politics is still not considered a traditional women’s career path. Beyond that, women face several unique obstacles and challenges that men do not experience. The Sylvia Donaldson Society aims to lessen these obstacles by facilitating crucial professional and networking opportunities to women on campus. By providing these small-group opportunities students might otherwise not experience, the Sylvia Donaldson Society hopes to empower the women of Stonehill College to pursue careers in public affairs.

The society is affiliated with the Martin Institute for Law and Society at Stonehill College. It is an entirely student-run organization. The Society has an Advisory Board including the Director of the Martin Institute, Stonehill faculty members, and professional women in various political careers. The purpose of this Advisory Board is to help facilitate networking connections and provide educational opportunities.

There are many benefits to the Sylvia Donaldson Society that give members a key advantage over their peers. Weekly meetings are structured to foster discussion around issues that women face in politics, and to collaborate on proactive solutions. Beyond firsthand knowledge of Martin Institute events, Sylvia Donaldson women will have several exclusive opportunities to have conversations with women in political careers, including members of Congress and members of the Massachusetts legislature. Included as a resource for two members annually is a spot in the National Education for Women Leadership Conference with financial sponsorship from the Martin Institute. Perhaps the best advantage of Society membership is the spirit of camaraderie that it fosters. The Society provides a support network to like-minded women so that they will succeed in political and public affairs.

Sylvia Donaldson was born on July 12, 1849 in Falmouth, MA. She attended Boston University where she pursued a degree to teach. After obtaining her degree she began teaching in the Brockton School Distrct from 1873 to 1919. While working in Brockton, she sat on the Brockton School Board where her interest in politics peaked.  Donaldson ran and won a seat in the House of Representatives where she served from 1923 to 1930. Perhaps her most esteemed accomplishment would be on the day of February 18, 1926 where she became the first women to serve as the Speaker of the House.  While Donaldson is best known for her time as Speaker, it is also notable that she was a part of various organizations throughout her life, and those include; Audubon Society; Daughters of Revolution; National Education Association; League of Women Voters; and Women’s Civic Federation.