Timeline: Women at BC Through the Years

A look at the important milestones in women's history at the University. 

Portrait of Margaret Magrath

Margaret Magrath

1910
Nuns from teaching orders in Boston become the first women to study under Boston College faculty.

1926
Margaret U. Magrath and Olivia C. Penell are awarded master of arts degrees—the first women to earn degrees from Boston College.

1928
The University hires its first women faculty members: Alice Driscoll, geography; Olivia C. Penell, educational methods; Mary Quigley, mathematics; and Rose E. Weiffenbach, English.

Portrait of Dorothy Book

Dorothy Book

1944
Dorothy Book, of the School of Social Work, is named BC’s first female dean.

Mary Butler Becker becomes the first female graduate of Boston College Law School.

1952
Women enroll in the School of Education, becoming the first undergraduates to study alongside men on the Chestnut Hill campus.

1959
Undergraduates Ann Bell, Mary Driscoll, Diane Glennon, Margaret McLaughlin, Elizabeth O’Connell, Caroline O’Hara, and Mary Jane Skatoff are the first women to be admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences. Senior Jesuit officials object to the move, and no other women are admitted to A&S until 1970.

1966
Three School of Education sophomores—Virginia Meany, Martha Ann Brazier, and Katherine Mongeau—circulate a petition to grant women admission to the all-male College of Arts and Sciences.

March 1969
The University Academic Senate votes to admit women to the College of Arts and Sciences.

1970
Boston College formally admits women to the College of Arts arts Sciences, welcoming 247 female A&S students to campus, which brings the total number of women in the incoming class to 665.

1971
UMass Lowell dean Patricia Goler MA’51, Ph.D.’57, and Long Island University treasurer Mary Lai are the first women appointed to the BC Board of Trustees.

Women’s basketball becomes the first female sport to achieve varsity status.

Photo of the Women's Center

The Women’s Center

1973
The Women’s Center at BC opens with a small library and resources supporting women’s health and career planning. “Now that we have the center, our main concerns will be the major needs of women students at BC,” cofounder Pat O’Brien says.

1974
Boston College acquires the all-women Newton College of the Sacred Heart, and more than 900 female students join the University in the fall of 1975.

1975
For the first time, the incoming freshman class includes more women than men (1,069 to 962).

Margaret A. Dwyer, M.Ed.’56, is appointed BC’s first female vice president.

1981
Joanne Caruso ’82, JD’85 becomes the first woman elected president of BC’s Undergraduate Government.

Portrait of Judith Wilt

Judith Wilt

1983
The Women’s Studies Program is established with English Professor Judith Wilt as the founding director.

1985
Sheila McGovern ’57, JD’60 is named the first female president of the Alumni Association.

1989
Tamie Thompson ’80, who’d been instrumental in founding the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams, is elected the first female president of the Varsity Club.

Portrait of Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith ’00

2001
With a first-place finish in the indoor 3,000-meter race at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Shannon Smith ’00 becomes the first female athlete in BC history to claim an individual national championship.

2002
The University launches the Council for Women with a mission to increase the involvement of alumnae in Boston College.

2005
Boston College’s living alumni base becomes majority female.

Portrait of Kathleen McGillycuddy NC’71

Kathleen McGillycuddy NC’71

2011
Kathleen McGillycuddy NC’71 becomes the first female Board of Trustees chair.

2014
The Undergraduate Government of Boston College launches a conference for women. Today called the Women’s Summit, the annual event is cosponsored by the Women’s Center and the Office of Student Involvement.

2020–2021
Boston College celebrates the 50th anniversary of the University going fully coeducational.