Vice President and Executive Director

Areas of Expertise: Access to Higher Education, Child Care & Early Education, Flexible Work & Fair-Scheduling, Investing in Single Mothers' Higher Education, Job Training Success, Paid Sick Days, Pay Equity & Discrimination, STEM and Innovation, Student Parent Success Initiative, The Status of Women and Girls

Barbara Gault, Ph.D., is the Vice President and Executive Director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Scholar in Residence at American University. Her work covers a wide range of issues, including college access and affordability, job quality, paid leave, poverty, political engagement, and the need for better early care and education options for working parents. She founded and leads IWPRs Student Parent Success Initiative, and has authored dozens of reports and publications, including Improving Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Success Among Low-Income Parents,  Resilient and Reaching for More: Challenges and Benefits of Higher Education for Welfare Participants and Their Children, " and Working First But Working Poor: The Need for Education and Training Following Welfare Reform.  She has testified in Congress on low-income women’s educational access, has spoken and delivered keynote presentations in venues throughout the country, and appears in a range of print, radio and television media outlets. Prior to joining IWPR, Dr. Gault conducted research at the Office of Children’s Health Policy Research, and served as a staff and board member of organizations promoting human rights in Latin America. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Coalition on Human Needs, and is a Research Professor of Women’s Studies at the George Washington University.

Publications

Understanding the New College Majority: The Demographic and Financial Characteristics of Independent Students and their Postsecondary Outcomes

Independent college students, once considered “nontraditional,” now constitute the majority of students in the United States. As of 2012, just over half of all U.S. college students were independent (51 percent)—meaning they had at least one defining characteristic outlined in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including being at least 24 years old;…

Five Ways to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap (Updated 2017)

The 80.5 percent wage ratio figure, the most commonly used figure to measure the gender wage gap in the United States, is often derided as misleading, a myth, or worst of all, a lie. In this post, we argue that the figure is an accurate measure of the inequality in earnings between women and men…

Single Mothers Overrepresented at For-Profit Colleges

Analysis of the 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study data by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that three in ten single mothers in college attend private, for-profit schools, a larger share than students of any other family type (Figure 1).[1] At for-profit institutions, single mothers account for 26 percent of the student…

College Students with Children: National and Regional Profiles

This report provides a national and regional profile of undergraduate college students who are raising dependent children. Drawing on original analysis of national postsecondary education data, it quantifies the growth in the student parent population over time, both nationally and regionally, and describes trends in student parents’ economic status, their declining access to oncampus child…