Celebrating 125 Years of Women at MIT 1873 —1998

The Post War Years

Dr. Emily Wickes, courtesy of the Boston Herald 1/14/62Only 19 degrees were awarded to women in 1951 (Right, Emily Wicks '51 courtesy of the Boston Herald 1962). The men had come home from war and filled every student slot, courtesy of the GI Bill.

Provost Julius Stratton '23, who was a father to 3 daughters, felt that education must: "be designed to help men and women to enjoy happy useful lives in the world of today... A successful education must take account of the special gifts and talents and aptitudes that differentiate one student from another." (1951)

But this sentiment was not universal. Between 1954 and 1956, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Place on Women at MIT investigated women's admission. The Committee's informal report to Chancellor Stratton suggested that women were not successful undergraduates.

Despite the Committee's findings to the contrary, MITWA's alumnae survey of 1953 found that:
93% of the 305 graduate respondents were employed after graduation,... the majority ... working for over 10 years in their specialized fields.

MITWA knew that women students faced many obstacles to success with so few women peers and mentors. In 1956, under the leadership of President Katherine Hazen '28, its answer was to showcase excellence with an undergraduate Scholastic Award.

Regardless of the atmosphere on campus, women still excelled at MIT and in their work

Sheila (Evans) Widnall '60

Emily L. Wick '51, PhD chemistry, Mt. Holyoke '43, was one of the first few women appointed to the MIT faculty.

Dr. Xie Xide (Hsi-Teh Hsihn Tsao) '51 PhD, physics, was to become president of Fudan University, Shanghai.

Dr. Phyllis Fox '54, SM, Electrical Engineering, became a prominent researcher at Bell Laboratories.

Judith Ronat'56 , mathematics, is a practicing psychiatrist in Israel

Dr. Elisabeth M. Drake '58, became the second woman with a PhD from MIT and first woman to head a Department of Chemical Engineering in the US (Northeastern University).

Sheila (Evans) Widnall '60 Aeronautics and Astronautics, (Left) became first woman to be appointed to the MIT Engineering faculty, and the first to chair the MIT Faculty. She was the first women to serve as Secretary of the Air Force. She is currently the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT.

Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Schumacker '60, mathematics; a champion swimmer and entrepreneur who endowed the women's athletic award.