Many female philanthropists are stepping out of the shadows and allowing their names to adorn institutions they have financed – and not just in conjunction with their husbands’ names, such as the Carmen and John Thain labour and delivery unit at the Children’s Hospital of New York- Presbyterian, or The Joan and Sanford I. Weill medical college and graduate school of medical sciences of Cornell University.

The University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, for example, is named after Darla Moore, a former banker who gave her alma mater $25m in 1998.

Martha Taylor is co-founder of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, part of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and vice-president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. She says that while many women no longer make their planned gifts anonymously, they are still reluctant to put their names on buildings.

When people see men’s names on plaques, they “think men are really generous and women aren’t, so it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she says. “Women naming buildings on their gifts demonstrates that women are leaders . . . [and] know the importance of good role models.”

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