Header Image

History of Women at Princeton

From the She Roars conference in 2011

1942
23 women are admitted to a government-sponsored summer course on photogrammetry, in support of the war effort.

1947
Three women – Library staff members – enroll in a beginners Russian class.

1948
Helen Baker, Associate Director of the Industrial Relations Section, becomes the first woman awarded Associate Professor status by the Board of Trustees.

1961
The first female graduate student (Sabra Follett Meservey *66 ) is admitted.

1962
Eight more women enroll in graduate programs.

1963
Five undergraduate women are admitted full-time to spend their junior years as students in the Cooperative Undergraduate Program for Critical Languages, supported by the Carnegie Corporation.

1964
T’sai-ying Cheng *64 becomes the first woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree (in Biochemistry), having received her master’s degree in 1963.

May, 1967
Daily Princetonian article written by Robert Durkee ’69 quotes President Goheen as saying that co-education is inevitable.

June, 1967
President Goheen takes the case for co-education to the Trustees and asks to commission a study on the “advisability and feasibility” of Princeton committing fully to the education of undergraduate women. The study is to be headed by professor of economics Gardner Patterson.

May, 1968
Sociology professor Suzanne Keller becomes the first tenured woman faculty member.

July, 1968
The Patterson committee with its report entitled “The Education of Women at Princeton,” and with only one dissenting vote, strongly supports the implementation of coeducation at Princeton. It is endorsed by President Goheen who asks Trustee Harold Helm ’20 to head a trustee committee to study the report.

January 10, 1969
The Helm special committee on coeducation announces their “nearly unanimous” decision to recommend coeducation.

January 11, 1969
The Board of Trustees approves, “in principle,” admitting undergraduate women, by a vote of 24 to 8.

April 20, 1969
President Goheen and the board of trustees announce that women will be admitted as undergraduates in the fall of 1969.

September, 1969
101 freshman women enroll with the Class of 1973. They are joined by 49 women transfer students, 21 former Critical Languages students and 3,200 undergraduate men.

1970
First of the Critical Languages transfer students graduate.

1971
Women’s Center is founded.

1971
Princeton created the women’s varsity intercollegiate sports programs. These sports included field hockey, tennis, squash, and crew.

1971 – 1973
Women join the ranks of freshman class presidents (Abby Rubenfeld ’75), Pyne Prize recipients (Marsha Levy-Warren ’73), Marshall scholarship winners (Annalyn Swann ’73), Fulbright recipients (Dinah Seiver ’73) and the Board of Trustees (Mary St. John Douglas S43 and Susan Savage Speers S50).

1972
Adele Simmons is appointed Dean of Student Affairs and becomes Princeton’s first woman dean.

1972
Vera Marcus becomes the first undergraduate African American women to graduate from Princeton.

1973
Women who matriculated as freshmen in 1969 graduate.

1973
The Society of Women Engineers is founded by thirteen of the seventeen women majoring in engineering.

1974
Admissions quotas for women (previously 300 out of 1,100) are abolished.

1974
Eva Lerner Lam ’76 becomes the first woman elected Sophomore Class President.

1975
Commencement features both a woman valedictorian (Cynthia Chase ’75) and salutatorian (Lisa Siegman ’75). Suzanne Perles ’75 becomes Princeton’s first female Rhodes Scholar.

1977
Nina G. Garsoian becomes Dean of the Graduate School and Joan S. Girgus, Dean of the College

1977
Valerie Bell ’77 becomes the first woman elected Senior Class President.

1979
Sally Frank ’80 files a lawsuit with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights to contest discrimination at three all-male eating clubs.

1980
Barbara Barrow ’81, is elected Junior Class President and becomes 1st woman Honor Committee Chair.

1980
Kimberlee Thompson ’81 becomes Princeton’s first female ROTC cadet commander.

1982
Women’s Studies program is founded, now Program in the Study of Women & Gender.

1984
Michele Woods ’84 becomes the first female USG president.

1989
The Standing Committee on the Status of Women is formed to identify and address issues and concerns of Princeton women. Its first chair is Georgia Nugent ’73.

1991
Tiger Inn, the last of the all-male eating clubs, admits women.

1995
The University sponsors a week of events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the class of 1970.

2000
The Women’s Center hosts a panel discussion in honor of the 30th anniversary of undergraduate women at Princeton. Called “Women, Power, and Leadership,” the panel discusses the issues of women in power and women leaders on campus and in the world.

June 15, 2001
Shirley M. Tilghman assumes the office of President.

2001
Amy Gutmann is named Provost.

2002
The entering freshman class (of 2006) becomes Princeton’s first with an equal number of men and women.

2003
“Report of the Task Force on the Status of Women Faculty in the Natural Sciences and Engineering at Princeton” is issued, noting progress in “attracting and retaining women scientists and engineers during the last decade,” as well as further work to be done to address faculty gender imbalances.

2009
The Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership, chaired by Nannerl Keohane, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Center for Human Values, is formed. It is charged with “developing a better understanding of how undergraduate students perceive and seize the opportunities available to them to assert leadership both inside and outside the classroom.”

2011
The Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership, issues its report.

“If this report could be summed up in one idea, it is that for Princeton to fully realize its potential as an academic and social community, all its members need to be full participants—ready, willing, and able to use their talents as they themselves judge best. That is our charge going forward.”

2011
“She Roars: Celebrating Women at Princeton,” a University conference for Princeton alumnae, brings more than 1,350 undergraduate and graduate alumnae and guests to campus.

2018
Nine of the eleven eating clubs elect women as club presidents.

2018
The second “She Roars: Celebrating Women at Princeton,” conference will be held on October 4-6, 2018.

Scroll Up