Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ada's Legacy: Women at Stevens

This Friday the College of Arts and Letters will be hosting a conference, "An interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating the Achievements and Legacies of Ada Lovelace". The Library wants to celebrate the legacy of Ada Lovelace by posting blogs by Stevens Students written during Professor Lee Vinsel's, History of Stevens course last semester about the history of women at Stevens.

By Dana Lyons & Devin Corson, Class of '13

Overview of Women at Stevens
This series of entries is intended to tell the reader a story about what it was like to be a woman at Stevens over the last four decades.  It will showcase the experiences of four incredible women, one from each decade, intermingled with key implementations focused on women at Stevens. 
Stevens was one of the last engineering schools to begin accepting women into the student body.  All female applicants would receive what was called a “no tomato” letter from the Stevens admissions office, sarcastically declining their admission.   The 1971 the Stevens Indicator released the results of a poll taken before the co-ed change that showed a high majority of students favored having female undergraduates on campus.  Out of 861 responses, 651 said yes, 179 said no, and 31 had no opinion.  Sure enough in 1971, 19 females were admitted into the incoming class of 387 members.  Lenore Schupack (below) entered Stevens with this first female class, earned her degree in just three years, and became the first female to graduate in 1974. 

The women were housed on the third floor of the “relatively luxurious” dormitories called the Married Student Apartments (now the Castle Point Apartments).  When asked by administrators if they wanted to be segregated or randomly mixed among the men, the women opted to be equals and were scattered into the same classes, overwhelmingly outnumbered by men.  By 1974, the women’s fencing team was in full swing, being the first women’s Varsity team at Stevens that was also coached by the Duck’s first female coach, Linda Uallhammer. 

In 1977, the Office of Special Programs for Women was implemented, which worked to increase the numbers of young women in pursuing careers in engineering and science.  This office presented several major programs to the women in the Stevens community, including the Society of Women Engineers chapter; residential Women in Engineering Summer Program for high school women; Women in Engineering Symposia for students, teachers, and administrators; and the Women in Engineering Network for young women considering careers in engineering.  The first national sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, came to Stevens in 1982, followed by the second national sorority at Stevens, Delta Phi Epsilon, in 1985. Soon afterwards a local sorority, Omicron Pi, was formed and eventually become the third and final national sorority at Stevens, Theta Phi Alpha.   Read along with us as we trace the journey of a few strong and influential women at Stevens throughout the decades.

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