President Obama to Barnard College: "Fight for a Seat at the Head of the Table"

President Barack Obama sits with Barnard College President Debora Spar (May 14, 2012)

President Barack Obama sits with Barnard College President Debora Spar, left, and Chairwoman Jolyne Caruso-Fitzgerald before he delivers a commencement address for Barnard College graduates at Columbia University in New York, May 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

This afternoon, President Obama offered some advice to the 2012 graduates of Barnard College in New York:

After decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress, you are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny but the destiny of this nation and of this world.

But how far your leadership takes this country, how far it takes this world -- well, that will be up to you. You’ve got to want it. It will not be handed to you. And as someone who wants that future -- that better future -- for you, and for Malia and Sasha, as somebody who’s had the good fortune of being the husband and the father and the son of some strong, remarkable women, allow me to offer just a few pieces of advice. That's obligatory. Bear with me.

My first piece of advice is this:  Don’t just get involved.  Fight for your seat at the table.  Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.

Barnard is one of the famous "Seven Sisters" -- private female liberal arts colleges founded to offer first class education to women before many elite institutions allowed their admittance. It counts Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama's sister, among its alumni.

This was President Obama's first commencement address of 2012. You can read his full remarks here.

Related Topics: Women