Women’s History @ UNC

Breaking Barriers, Making History: Timeline of women’s education at UNC-Chapel Hill

Information prepared by the Southern Oral History Program as part of its University History Initiative.

1877 UNC opens its doors to women for the first time when 107 women attend a summer school session.
1892 Greensboro Women’s College opens.
1897 University admits its first class of coeds: Mary McRae, Lulie Watkins, Cecye Roanne Dodd, Dixie Lee Bryant and Sallie Walker Stockard.University only admits women if they are seeking an advanced degree not offered by local women’s colleges.Sallie Walker Stockard becomes the first woman to graduate from UNC in 1889. She goes on to receive a master’s degree from UNC in 1900.
1906 Female students form the University Women’s Club to promote their interests on campus because the university does not allow them to participate in regular, all-male organizations. Eventually, the women form and run their own honors committee and student council.
1915 Margaret Berry graduates from UNC Law School. Cora Zeta Corpening becomes the first woman admitted to UNC’s medical school even though her male peers vote unanimously not to admit her.
1917 For the first time, UNC admits four first-year coeds. Due to housing shortages and concerns over propriety, the first-year women must prove they are living with family or caretakers.
1925 First-year women admittance policy changes so that only women going pre-med can enroll.Spencer Hall, the first all-female dormitory on campus, opens despite protests from male students who did not want any funds going to female students.
1927 Sallie B. Marks becomes the first regular female faculty member at UNC. She accepts an appointment as an assistant professor of elementary education.
1942 Susan Grey Atkins appointed Dean of the School of Library Science. She is the first woman in the university to hold that title.
1946 Katherine Kennedy Carmichael appointed Dean of Women.
1951 School of Nursing admits first-year women.
1955 LeRoy Benjamin Frasier, Jr., Ralph Frasier and John Lewis Brandons become the first black undergrads to attend UNC.
1962 1,900 female students represent 23% of the UNC student body.
1963 Trustees approve the admittance of women without regard to residence or major. Scarce housing restricts female enrollments, so in reality admissions standards for women are higher than for men.
1967 Women are permitted to wear shorts and slacks on campus.
1968 Self-limiting hours eliminated. Women earn the right to visit men’s dorms and vice versa. Students no longer have curfews or limitations on how they spend their nights.
1969 Roberta Jackson joins the School of Education as the first tenured black female faculty member at the university.Food workers strike at UNC.
1970 Gillian Cell promoted to assistant professor in history.First co-ed dormitory opens.
1972 Title IX bans all sexual discrimination in admissions. Women, who had made up 30% of the total student body, are now admitted on equal terms with men.Title IX also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal financial aid.Faculty appoints a Committee on the Status of Women at the University.In spring, Margaret O’Conner teaches the first “Women in Literature” course at UNC.
1974 To promote affirmative action, Jim Gaskin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, adds faculty lines to departments willing to hire female and minority faculty. This policy creates what Gillian Cell and other female faculty at the time refer to as the “Class of 1974″ as departments rush to hire females and minorities to gain faculty lines.
1976 UNC Women’s Studies program established.Gillian Cell appointed associate dean of Graduate School.
1977 First year that women constitute a majority of the student body.
1978 Association for Women Faculty founded.Gillian Cell promoted to full professor in history.An AAUP report shows that women make up 13.5% of tenure-track faculty in Academic Affairs and 18.1% in Health Affairs. Both numbers are lower than the 1978 averages at other colleges. The same report showed that of the 31 professors hired at UNC between 1974 and 1978 – 15 named professors and 16 full professors – all were male.
1979 Jacquelyn Hall receives tenure.
1980 Committee on the Status of Women presents its report at a heated faculty council meeting. Joan Scott of the Department of History presents the findings and recommendations of the committee.
1981 Gillian Cell appointed affirmative action officer for the university.Professor J. Moody in geology launches a lawsuit against the university for sexual discrimination in hiring, promotion and tenure practices.
1982 Committee on the Status of Women reports that women have gained nothing since affirmative action initiatives in 1974. There are 6 more women faculty members than there were in 1974, a decline of 1% in overall faculty representation.
1988 University establishes a Sexual Harassment Committee. Linda Brooks’s study of sexual harassment at UNC is instrumental in inspiring action from the university.
1989 In a national survey, The Journal of Higher Education found that women comprise 45% of instructors, 38% of assistant professors, 26% of associate professors and 13.7% of full professors.
1993 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty finds that the gender gap between full-time faculty in annual earnings is substantial – $59,082 for men versus $42,547 for women.
2002 Faculty Salary Equity Study reveals that women faculty comprise 28.4% of the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. The report found that assuming equal academic qualifications, women make $1,169 less yearly than men.
2004-2005 University Parental Leave Policy goes into effect.