A Timeline of Women at Hopkins
Photos courtesy of Special Collections and Archives
1876 — In his February inaugural address, President Daniel Coit Gilman says that, though he is committed to the idea of educating women and hopes Baltimore will have a women's college, he finds co-education inappropriate because it would expose women "to the rougher influences which I am sorry to confess are still to be found in colleges and universities where young men resort."
1876 — In November, James Carey Thomas, member of the Board of Trustees and a supporter of admitting women to Hopkins, calls a meeting to discuss the matter. The board is unable to commit and leaves the issue in the hands of the president.
1877 — In September, Carey Thomas' daughter Martha
applies to study Greek as an undergraduate. One month later,
Emily Nunn, who had been taking a special Saturday teacher's
course in physiology, applies for admission to regular biology
lectures. Both are denied. The trustees adopt a policy that women
could attend public and special lectures, and that the university
would examine and "certify to the attainments of such women as
may offer themselves as candidates for a degree" but would not
"for the present . . . receive young ladies as students in the
usual classes, and as attendants upon lectures not specially
1882 — Christine Ladd-Franklin meets the
requirements for her PhD in mathematics (the first woman to do so
in any subject at Hopkins), though the trustees deny her the
degree and refuse to change the policy about admitting women.
Ladd-Franklin is a lecturer in the Hopkins Faculty of Philosophy
for five years before leaving for Columbia. Her degree is awarded
to her in 1926, 44 years later.
1889 — The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing opens, accepting women and men as students.
1890 — Five Baltimore women, four of them daughters of Hopkins trustees, organize the Women's Fund Committee. Martha Carey Thomas, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, Mary Gwinn, Elizabeth King, and Julia Rogers intend to raise money needed to establish the School of Medicine — with the condition that the school accept women.
1890s — Yale, Brown, Columbia, and Harvard admit women graduate students.
1893 — Geologist Florence Bascomb becomes JHU's first female PhD. Bascomb will become the first woman elected a fellow, councilor, and vice president of the Geological Association of America and the first woman to serve on the U.S. Geological Survey.
1893 — The School of Medicine opens; three of the 18 students in the first class are women.
1894 — May Garrettson Evans, a Peabody alumna, establishes the Peabody Preparatory Department.
1897-1902 — Gertrude Stein studies at the School of Medicine but does not receive a degree.
1907 — Women are accepted into the graduate programs at Johns Hopkins. President Ira Remsen explains, "It was simply a matter of justice — I should say of justice and common sense."
1917 — Florence R. Sabin is appointed the first
woman professor in the School of Medicine.
1918 — The School of Hygiene and Public Health opens;
within a year, women make up one-third of the school's
1923 — Undergraduate students vote 232 to 37 against
what the News-Letter calls "female intrusion into the
undergraduate body," responding to a request by some women
students in the College for Teachers for equal status and the
same degrees as male undergraduates.
1924 — Florence Bamberger, professor of education, is the
first woman appointed full professor. Two months later, Buford
Jeannette Johnson becomes professor of psychology.
1930 — Physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer comes to
Hopkins when her husband, Joseph Mayer, takes an appointment in
the Chemistry Department. Because nepotism rules forbid the
employment of both spouses, she is only able to get an
assistantship. The two eventually move to Columbia and the
University of Chicago and go on to be awarded the Nobel Prize in
physics in 1963. She is the first woman residing in America to
win a Nobel in physics.
1932 — Environmentalist Rachel Carson receives a
master's degree in zoology at Hopkins.
1944 — The School of Advanced International Studies opens. Because many men in the United States are part of the war effort, more than half of its 23 students are women.
1960s — Harvard, Yale, and Princeton admit women as undergraduates.
1969 — The Committee on Coeducation assembled by
President Lincoln Gordon recommends that "coeducation at the
undergraduate level be instituted without delay," suggesting that
it will improve the university's intellectual and social
environment. The Academic Council recommends that women be
admitted as undergraduates by September, and the trustees make
the policy official.
1970 — In September, 90 women break a 94-year tradition and enter Hopkins as undergraduates. "You feel like a cross between Gypsy Rose Lee and Typhoid Mary," student Rebecca Love told the News-Letter.
1984 — An obscene story is published in a fraternity newsletter, prompting outrage on campus and spurring the administration to set up an Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women. The group concludes that Hopkins "remains a male institution with an atmosphere that is at best indifferent and at worst hostile to the concerns of women."
1987 — The Johns Hopkins Women's Forum (later renamed the Johns Hopkins Women's Network) is created to bring together women from all of the university's divisions. It first offers events, and later educational and cultural programming addressing women's issues.
1988 — The Women's Forum launches the Committee to Write an Annual Report on the Status of Women at the Johns Hopkins University, the first university-wide committee to explore a wide range of issues relating to women. Provost John Lombardi assumes responsibility for the project, which will form the nucleus of the Provost's Committee on the Status of Women.
1988 — The Women's Studies program in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences is founded with a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The program is now called the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
1989 — The First Annual Report of the Provost's
Committee on the Status of Women suggests recruiting and
promoting more female leaders and tenured faculty; providing
equal salaries for women and men; and establishing university day
1991 — Estelle Fishbein, the university's general
counsel since 1975, becomes Hopkins' first female vice
1994 — At 53 percent, women in the incoming class of the School of Medicine outnumber men for the first time in the school's 101-year history.
1998 — Illene Busch-Vishniac is appointed dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. She is the first woman dean of a Hopkins division other than the School of Nursing. 1999 — Women's lacrosse, a varsity sport at Hopkins since 1976, moves to Division 1 from Division 3.
2002 — Jessica Einhorn is appointed dean of SAIS.
2003 — Oncologist Judith Karp becomes the 100th female faculty member at the School of Medicine to be named full professor.
November 2006 — The University's Committee on the Status of Women releases Vision 2020.
Spring 2007 — Lisa Cooper of the division of General Internal Medicine becomes the first woman of African descent to be named full professor in the School of Medicine. Cooper goes on to win a MacArthur Foundation $500,000 "genius grant" in September.
June 2007 — Pamela P. Flaherty is elected the 15th
chair of the university's board of trustees. Flaherty is the
first woman and the first SAIS graduate to hold the position.
July 2007 — Kristina M. Johnson is named JHU's first
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