Then and Now: The Women of Northeastern

Take two minutes to explore decades of achievements by women at Northeastern!

By Ilana Gensler, MA’19


1922 – School of Law and School of Commerce and Finance admit women.


1943 – Women students admitted to the Day Colleges.

1948 – Mary Ellen Chase—regarded as one of the most important literary figures of the early twentieth century—receives an honorary doctorate from Northeastern.

First women students in the Day Colleges register for classes, 1943.


1950 – American scholar, educator, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Margaret Clapp receives an honorary doctorate from Northeastern.

1956 – American writer best known for her biographies, Catherine Drinker Bowen receives an honorary doctorate from Northeastern.


Women’s Field Hockey, 1976

1969 – Elizabeth Duncan Koontz—the first African American president of the National Education Association and director of the United States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau—receives an honorary doctorate from Northeastern.

1969 Honorary Degree Recipients, Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Bottom Right

1968 –  Women’s basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse teams added to the varsity roster.


1974 – Barbara Newell—the first female chancellor of the State University System of Florida—receives an honorary doctorate from Northeastern.

1977 – Russell E. Call children’s center opened, providing day care.


Electrical Engineering Co-op, 1982

1980 – Women’s Studies program initiated.

1981 – Women in Engineering, Women in Science, and Women in Information Systems programs formed.


Maya Angelou speaks at freshman convocation, 1991

1990 – Jane Scarborough becomes Northeastern’s first woman vice president, leading cooperative education.

1992 – Poet Maya Angelou—the first black woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter— receives an honorary doctorate from Northeastern.


2004 – The field hockey team, the women’s indoor track team, the swimming and diving team, and the men’s and women’s outdoor track team are all American East Conference champions.

2014 – Kendall Coyne of Northeastern University women’s hockey team named to US Women’s Olympic Hockey Team.

Kendall Coyne, 2016

March 4, 2022