Celebrating 100 Years of Women at NC State University




Gertrude Cox was hired as professor of statistics and head of the Department of Experimental Statistics in November. She became the first woman to serve as a full professor and department head.


Photo of Gertrude Cox in Egypt.

Gertrude Cox
Gertrude Cox Papers
Special Collections Department, NCSU Libraries



Margaret Kramer and Martha S. Richard were the first women to receive M.S. degrees in agricultural chemistry.

Myrtha M. Wilson was the first woman to earn an M.S. degree in animal ecology.

Ethel C. Sheridan was the first woman to earn an M.S. in occupational information and guidance.


By 1941 there were twenty women and 2,406 men enrolled. Interestingly, the number of women enrolled was less than in 1928.

Katharine Stinson became the first woman to graduate from NC State's School of Engineering. She received a bachelor of mechanical engineering degree, aeronautical option.

Katharine Stinson (Class of 1941) was taking flying lessons at the old Raleigh Airport on US-401 when Amelia Earhart flew in for a visit in the early 1930s. When Stinson told Earhart that she wanted to become a pilot, Earhart advised her to become an engineer, a career Stinson pursued in spite of obstacles that prevented most young women from striving for nontraditional degrees. Stinson was told she must enter as a junior, so she completed forty-eight semester hours in one year at Meredith (including two summer sessions) to attain her goal. Besides being the first woman engineer to graduate from NC State (in mechanical engineering, with an aeronautical option in 1941), Stinson also was the first woman engineer hired by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, now the Federal Aviation Administration. By the time she retired from the FAA, as technical assistant chief of the Engineering and Manufacturing Division, she had served as the third president of the Society of Woman Engineers and on a presidential advisory committee for aviation safety under Lyndon Johnson. "I just wanted to be a good engineer . . . I just did my job and most of the men accepted me."

North Carolina State, vol.56, no. 6, March, 1984
1941 Agromeck
University Archives, NCSU Libraries

Photo of Katharine Stinson.

Katharine Stinson
1941 Agromeck
University Archives, NCSU Libraries



Photo of Margery Belle Garriss.

Margery Belle Garriss
1942 Agromeck
University Archives, NCSU Libraries


Margery Belle Garriss of Beaufort, N.C., was the first woman to graduate in architectural engineering.


1942 - 1943

By the 1942 - 1943 academic year, there were three more women on the faculty at NC State. Ruth Couch Allen was an instructor in English, Louise K. Cell was an instructor in English and the wife of Professor John Wesley Cell of Mathematics, and Ruth Badger Hall was an instructor in modern languages.



Scan of faculty listing from the 1943 "Agromeck."

Faculty Listing
1943 Agromeck
University Archives, NCSU Libraries



Fifty-eight women and 764 men were enrolled at NC State. There were special scholarships to provide some engineering training to women so they could work in industry during the war.


Photo of Jeanne Freeman.

Jeanne Freeman
1946 Agromeck
University Archives, NCSU Libraries

The first person to earn an M.S. degree in experimental statistics was Jeanne Freeman.


Lois Madden became the first woman to graduate with a degree in chemical engineering.


Photo of Lois Madden.

Lois Madden
1947 Agromeck
University Archives, NCSU Libraries


Photo of Ruth Hall.

Ruth Hall
Photograph Collection
University Archives, NCSU Libraries

Twenty-two women were listed on the faculty, including Louise Bell, Gertrude Cox and Ruth Hall. At this time, Gertrude Cox was still the only woman working as a full professor. Ruth Hall had been promoted to assistant professor, and the rest of the women were appointed at the instructor or laboratory technician level. The only departments with more than one woman were English with six, statistics with three, textiles with three, and modern languages with two. There were women in architecture, agricultural economics, mathematics, physics, social studies, chemistry, engineering, research, and agronomy.

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