Celebrating 100 Years of Women at NC State University


The NCSU Libraries, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first female student to attend NC State, presents "Celebrating 100 Years of Women at NC State University." This exhibit recognizes some of the many women leaders who accomplished firsts at NC State and helped to make the university the intellectual center that it is today.

NC State was founded in 1887, and in 1899 the Board of Trustees voted 9 to 6 to "admit women in all departments on a basis of equality with men." The board reversed this decision at its next meeting and decided to admit women only to study textiles or as special students. In 1901 Margaret Clement Burke, the first woman to study at NC State, enrolled in a physics course as a special student. Since then, women have attended as undergraduate and graduate students and have contributed to the university's success as technicians, research assistants, faculty, and administrators, culminating in 1998 when Dr. Marye Anne Fox became NC State's first woman chancellor.

Since the 1970s, women have achieved a significant presence at NC State. Certainly, with the changing times, the university would have diversified, but the female students, scientists, engineers, and administrators serving the university today owe some debt to the women who dared to be the first. Among the trailblazers are Adeline Stevens—the first female faculty member listed in the catalog as an instructor in biology (1902); Lucille Thomson—the first woman regularly enrolled as a student (1921); the first three women who graduated from NC State in 1927—Jane McKimmon, Charlotte Nelson, and Mary Yarbrough; and Gertrude Cox—the first woman full professor and department head (1940).


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