Celebrating 125 Years of Women at MIT 1873 —1998

The 1920s and 1930s

Women students and the Technology Women were a vital, but often invisible part of MIT. But many Departments awarded their first graduate degrees to women in the 20's and 30's.

MIT Physics Department 1920-21

In 1921 there 4 women in the Physics department, Evelyn (Clift) McKnight, Elzura Chandler, Louise Eyre, and Dorothy Weeks (above, second row center). Dorothy Weeks '23 SM, (second row, fourth from right) was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley, and the teaching assistant for Julius Stratton's ('23) class. MIT awarded her a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1930. She headed the physics department at Wilson College and a spectroscopist at the Harvard Astronomical Observatory in the 1960s. She was an active MITWA member.

Frances Hurd and Bertha Dodge earned the first Masters degrees in Chemistry (1922). Florence Ward Stiles '22 Elizabeth Gatewood Pietsch earned the first Sc.D. in Chemistry in 1922, 47 years after ESR completed similar work.

Edith Chartkoff Meyer '25 earned the first SB from Metallurgy and Material Science, and a year later Frances Clark was awarded the first Sc.D.

Florence Ward Stiles '22 (Right) was MIT's Rotch Librarian. She was MITWA president 1936-40, the year she was appointed the first advisor to women students.

Mildred Allen '22 became a physics professor at Mount Holyoke.

Martha (Eisman) Munzer '22 became a prominent lecturer, writer, and teacher. Her books and publications ranged from the environmental field to planning.

Marjorie Pierce '22 practiced architecture for more than 70 years. She was MITWA president 1940-44.

Bertha (Weiner) Dodge '22 S.M. chemistry.

Elcellenza Morse Wesby '22 became the first President of the Women's Patent Law Association in 1954.

Katherine Salisbury Hazen '28

Katherine (Salisbury) Hazen '28 (Left) was one of the Technology Women who married a classmate/professor. She was a member of the professor's wives group, the Technology Matrons., founded in 1913

Li Fu (Lee) Kuan '29, from Peking, married a Chinese graduate of '27

Margaret (Hutchinson) Rousseau '37 was the first woman to receive a Chemical Engineering doctorate in the United States. She invented a widely used distillation device and designed the first commercial penicillin plant.

Cheney Room, 1939-1940

Leona (Norman) Zarsky '41 (to the left of the piano in this 1940 Cheney Room photo) is a cardiologist who helped develop the pacemaker.

Amy Victoria Lister Higgins '32 was the first woman graduate in Business and Engineering Administration.

Margaret (Zaroodny) Freeman '34 was the first woman to earn a master's degree in Mathematics. She directed a women's computing group at MIT in the '40s, founded the MIT Language Lab, and was appointed an MIT professor in 1973.

Ruth (Berman) Pitt '39 chemistry, was president of MITWA in the 50's. Her daughter is Ruth Grant '67.

Anne (Person) Zemansky '39 architecture, married Stanley '37. Their daughter is Sondra '74.