A History of Women at Georgia Tech
In their century-long tenure at Tech, women haven't shied away from making history. Some of the most meaningful milestones are catalogued below.
- 1917: Georgia Tech's Evening School of Commerce (which would later be transferred to the University of Georgia, and after that become the foundation for Georgia State University) first admits women.
- 1919: Anna Teitelbaum Wise became the first woman to graduate from the School of Commerce.
- 1927: Dorothy M. Crosland is promoted from Assistant Librarian to Librarian. In 1945, she was named Woman of the Year in Education and promoted to Director of Libraries in 1953, where she would stay until she retired in 1971. In 1985, the Graduate Addition section of the library was renamed Crosland Tower, which reopened in the fall of 2018 after extensive renovations.
- 1952: The first women to enroll as undergraduates at Georgia Tech, Elizabeth Herndon and Diane Michel, begin classes on campus. They are only allowed to enroll in programs that aren't offered at other schools.
- 1954: Ella Wall Van Leer, wife of President Blake Ragsdale Van Leer, invites the five women enrolled at Tech to her home. Wanting to create a support system for the women, she helped establish Tau Sigma, which eventually became a chapter of the national Alpha Xi Delta sorority — Tech's first sorority chapter.
- 1956: Diane Michel and Shirley Clements Mewborn are the first women to graduate from Georgia Tech. Mewborn would later go on to serve as the first president of the Alumni Association, and a new softball field bearing her name opened in 2009.
- 1979: The Georgia Tech Fact Book lists 836 women admitted that year out of 4,158 students, and 296 women as having received a degree in the previous year.
- 1981: Bernadette McGlade is named coach of the women’s basketball team. She is the Institute's first full-time female coach. She also served as the women’s sports coordinator and associate athletics director for Sports Programs. In 2012, she was named the Yellow Jackets' 2012 ACC Legend by the Atlantic Coast Conference. McGlade is the first woman to be honored as a Women’s Basketball Legend for her roles as both a player and a coach.
- 1984: Lisa Volmar, a 1986 graduate, becomes the first woman to drive the Ramblin’ Wreck, integrating female students into one of the most beloved Tech traditions. Four years later, Evelyn Dale Morgan would become the second female Wreck driver.
- 1996: The first class of women is inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. The class was made up of Teresa Anne Caron (basketball, Class of 1977), Denise Heitman Pool (basketball, Class of 1976), and Carolyn Thigpen (basketball, Class of 1975). Former Coach McGlade would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
- 1998: Thanks in part to the advocacy of undergraduate students Jennifer Orr and Vicky Pickens, the Women’s Resource Center is established to help give women a voice on campus. Today, the Center provides support, advocacy, training, and services to enhance women's development at Tech.
- 1999: Sue V. Rosser is named dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, becoming Georgia Tech’s first female academic dean. Today, both Ivan Allen and the Scheller College of Business have female deans in Jacqueline Royster and Maryam Alavi, respectively.
- 1999: That same year, the Center for the Study of Women, Science, and Technology is established. The Center supports initiatives and activities related to gender, science, and technology, and promotes the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEM fields.
- 2002: On the 50th anniversary of women at Tech, the Fact Book records 2,425 women admitted for the fall semester. Of those, 628 enrolled, and the total female enrollment for the year was 4,460 out of 16,479 students.
- 2007: The women's tennis team wins Georgia Tech's first and only NCAA team championship, as recorded in the official NCAA record. This includes both male and female sports.
- 2015: Hillary Degenkolb becomes the first female Wreck driver of the 21st century. That same year, Georgia Tech sees a female Wreck driver, Reck Club president (Zola Zalesky), and Student Government Association president (Jennifer Abrams) for the first time in school history.
- 2017: Georgia Tech welcomes a first-year class to campus that is 43 percent female, the highest percentage yet. Georgia Tech's total female enrollment for the year is 9,076.
- 2019: The Center for the Study of Women, Science, and Technology celebrates its 20th anniversary.