Timeline of female education
This is a timeline of female education in the United States of America.
1639: The French colony of Acadia, which at the time included part of Maine, had an Ursuline boarding school by 1639 that was geared toward the education of young girls. The school was founded in Quebec City and is still in operation today, though this part of Canada no longer includes the part of Maine that it once did.
1674: In this year Bishop Calderon of Santiago wrote to Queen Mother Marie Anne of Spain concerning the Spanish efforts at colonizing Florida. In his letter he included some comments about the state of education and stated, "The children, both male and female, go to church on work days, to a religious school where they are taught by a teacher whom they call Athequi of the church; [a person] whom the priests have for this service." This description indicates that the colonies of New Spain had facilities for female education at least by the 1600s. It is not clear how far back this goes; the 1512 laws of Burgos, from over a hundred years earlier, did not specify whether instruction should be for males only: it uses the word hijos, which means sons, but can include daughters if they are mixed in with the boys.
1727: Founded in 1727 by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula, Ursuline Academy, New Orleans, is both the oldest continuously operating school for girls and the oldest Catholic school in the United States. The Ursuline Sisters founded this school out of the conviction that the education of women was essential to the development of a civilized, spiritual and just society, and has influenced culture and learning in New Orleans by providing an exceptional education for its women.
1742: At only 16 years of age, Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf established the first all-girls boarding school in America, sponsored by her father Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf. Originally known as the Bethlehem Female Seminary upon its 1742 founding, it changed its name to Moravian Seminary and College for Women by 1913. 1863 proved the Germantown, Pennsylvania-based school’s most landmark year, however, when the state recognized it as a college and granted it permission to reward bachelor’s degrees. As a result, most tend to accept Moravian as the oldest—though not continuously operational because of its current co-ed status—specifically female institute of higher learning in the United States.
1783: Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, appointed the first women instructors at any American college or university, Elizabeth Callister Peale and Sarah Callister – members of the famous Peale family of artists – taught painting and drawing.
1803: Bradford Academy in Bradford, Massachusetts was the first higher educational institution to admit women in Massachusetts. It was founded as a co-educational institution, but became exclusively for women in 1837.
1826: The first American public high schools for girls were opened in New York and Boston.
1837: Bradford Academy in Bradford, Massachusetts, due to declining enrollment, became a single-sexed institution for the education of women exclusively.
1841: The first American women to earn their Bachelor's degrees - Mary Hosford (later Fisher), Elizabeth Smith Prall (later Russell), and Mary Caroline Rudd (later Allen), did so this year, from Oberlin College. Oberlin College had become the first coeducational college in the United States in 1833.
1864: Rebecca Crumpler became the first African-American woman to graduate from a U.S. college with a medical degree and the first and only black woman to obtain the Doctress of Medicine degree from New England Female Medical College in Boston, MA.
1879: Mary Eliza Mahoney became the first African-American in the U.S. to earn a diploma in nursing, which she earned from the School of Nursing, New England Hospital for Woman and Children in Boston.
1889: Maria Louise Baldwin became the first African-American female principal in Massachusetts and the Northeast, supervising white faculty and a predominantly white student body at the Agassiz Grammar School in Cambridge.
Late 1800s, exact date unknown: Anandibai Joshi from India, Keiko Okami from Japan, and Sabat Islambouli from Syria became the first women from their respective countries (and in Joshi's case the first Hindu woman) to get a degree in western medicine, which they each got from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP), where they were all students in 1885.
1905: Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, born in England, became the first woman to earn a degree in any type of engineering in the United States, which she earned from Cornell University. It was a degree in civil engineering.
1915: Lillian Gilbreth earned a PhD in industrial psychology from Brown University, which was the first degree ever granted in industrial psychology. Her dissertation was titled "Some Aspects of Eliminating Waste in Teaching".
1921: The first black women to earn Ph.D. degrees in the United States earned them in 1921. They were: Georgiana Simpson, German, University of Chicago; Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, economics, University of Pennsylvania; and Eva Dykes, English philology, Radcliffe College.
1922: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority was founded. It was the fourth black Greek letter organization for women, and the first black sorority established on a predominantly white campus, Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1923: Virginia Proctor Powell Florence became the first African-American woman to earn a degree in library science. She earned the degree in 1923 from the Carnegie Library School, which later became part of the University of Pittsburgh.
1931: Bradford Academy, in Bradford, Massachusetts, changed name to Bradford Junior College and offered two year degree for women.
1934: Ruth Winifred Howard became the second African-American woman in the United States to receive a Ph.D. in psychology, which she earned from the University of Minnesota.
1965: Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (c. 1914 – 1985) became the first American woman to earn a PhD in Computer Science, which she earned at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her thesis was titled "Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns."
1971: Bradford Junior College in Bradford, Massachusetts changed to Bradford College and offered four year degrees for women.
1972: Bradford College in Bradford, Massachusetts became a co-educational institution (again) after being founded in 1803 as co-educational and then serving exclusively as a female institution of higher learning from 1837 to 1972. Bradford College closed permanently in May, 2000. The Bradford Alumni Association continues today and is the third oldest continuing alumni association in the United States.
1980: Women and men were enrolled in American colleges in equal numbers for the first time.
1996: Women first passed men in bachelor's degrees in America in 1996.
2008–2009: For the first time, women earned a majority of the doctoral degrees awarded in America.
2011: For the first time, American women passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor's degrees; as of 2011, among adults 25 and older, 10.6 million U.S. women have master's degrees or higher, compared to 10.5 million men. Measured by shares, about 10.2 percent of women have advanced degrees compared to 10.9 percent of men—a gap steadily narrowing in recent years. Women still trail men in professional subcategories such as business, science and engineering, but when it comes to finishing college, roughly 20.1 million women have bachelor's degrees, compared to nearly 18.7 million men—a gap of more than 1.4 million that has remained steady in recent years.
2013: Mai Majed Al-Qurashi became the first woman to get a PhD in Saudi Arabia, which she earned from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
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