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Women's History Month

More than 11,000 women are enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today, making up more than half of the student body. That wasn't always the case.

Take a closer look at how women’s history progressed at Carolina.

Sallie Walker Stockard

The first female students to enroll at the University were part of a six-week summer session for school teachers in 1877, but it was two decades later before women were full-time students in Chapel Hill.

In 1897, the board of trustees opened the University’s doors to women for postgraduate studies. Five women, including Sallie Walker Stockard, were accepted for postgraduate studies. Stockard was the only one of the group to graduate and became the first woman to earn a degree from Carolina when she graduated in 1898, though she was excluded from all ceremonies, including the actual presentation of degrees and class pictures.

Sallie Walker Stockard

Susan Grey Akers

As more and more women began enrolling at Carolina in the early 1900s, leadership roles slowly began to be filled by people who reflected the student body.

The University hired its first female faculty member in 1927 when Sallie Marks was named an assistant professor of education.

In 1942, Susan Grey Akers became the first female dean at UNC-Chapel Hill when she was appointed to serve as the dean of the School of Information and Library Science, then called the School of Library Science.


Susan Grey Akers

Karen Parker

After Stockard broke down the initial barrier, it would be another six decades until the first African American woman enrolled at Carolina. In 1963, Karen Parker transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill from the Woman’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina.

A journalism major, Parker chronicled in a diary her experiences in Chapel Hill, including her involvement with the Congress of Racial Equality and activism experiences during the civil rights movement.

Generations of women at UNC-Chapel Hill have made way for current students and alumnae to make a mark on the world.

Click on a photo below to meet a Tar Heel who is making her own history.