Then and Now

Women in Higher Education in the U.S. Over Time

Women Earning Degrees

Bachelor’s Degrees

In 1840, the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. graduated from Wesleyan College in Georgia.

In 2010, the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by women in the U.S. was 919,284.

Doctoral/First-Professional Degrees

In 1877 the first woman in the U.S. earned a doctorate.

In 2010 women earned 53.3 % of Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees in the U.S. (percentage comprises M.D., J.D. and D.D.S. degrees as well as other professional degrees).

Women in Professorships

In 1871 the first woman in the U. S. was appointed full professor at Cornell College in Iowa with a salary equal to that of her male peers.

In 2003 24% of all full-time professors in the U.S. were women. 

Women as Chancellors of Colleges or Universities

In 1978 the first woman became president of large research university, The University of Chicago.


Works Cited

Historic Firsts in Women’s Education in the United States.  U.S. News and World Report.

The National Center for Education Statistics.  Fast Facts: Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race.

National Women’s History Museum.  Presents: The History of Women in Education. Timeline.

Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership.  Women’s Leadership Fact Sheet: A Project of NJ WomenCount.  Faculty Diversity in Higher Education.

The University of Chicago.  History.

Women’s College Alumnae – Notable Firsts.  The Women’s College Coalition.

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Posted in Educators, Graduates, Students

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