Upon their entry into Gonzaga in 1948, female co-eds changed the dynamic of the classroom forever. Prior to 1948, women were allowed to study Education and Nursing, as they were seen as suitable career paths for women. However, when admitted in 1948, women could study areas such as business and science. This case shows what that change looked like and gives insight into the feelings against this change.
Before the official admittance of female students to Gonzaga, women were allowed to study in areas, such as nursing, through Gonzaga. After female students were admitted, they could study a larger variety of subjects. This photo shows the graduation of students from the nursing program around 1945.
While “Coeds’ Corner”, a column which appeared in the Bulletin, allowed many male and female students to speak their mind about co-education at Gonzaga, the thoughts were not always positive. Here, a male student expresses his concerns about a woman’s place and whether or not that place is in the classrooms of Gonzaga University.
This photograph of a class from the first year that co-eds were admitted into Gonzaga shows co-eds grouped together in the front of the class. In an article from The Spokesman-Review, a co-ed is quoted saying, “There were so few girls in class we weren’t acknowledged at all by the fellows, and most of the time the instructors forgot to address us in their lectures.”
Donna McMillan, the first female Engineering student, and Engineering Dean James McGivern look over the plans of the new engineering building, Dillon Hall, while it is under construction.
When women were admitted, the new engineering building was in the midst of being constructed. At first, not that many women took Engineering classes.
While “Co-Eds’ Corner” was often a place for negative criticism of co-eds, it also celebrated the accomplishments of female students. In this edition, the paper recognized the first female student to join the pep band, formerly a “men only” organization.
A nursing student from the late 1940’s works in the lab.
With the admittance of women to Gonzaga, came a larger presence of women in the classroom. Women, who were once only able to study in technical fields, such as nursing, were now able to study the variety of undergraduate programs offered at Gonzaga.
A chapter of Gamma Pi Epsilon, the national Jesuit honor society for women was established at Gonzaga in 1951. The society honored women students who had distinguished themselves by scholarship, loyalty, and service. The women’s chapter of Gamma Pi Epsilon was combined with Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society for men, in 1974. From then on, the name, Gamma Pi Epsilon, was dropped and the society was referred to as Alpha Sigma Nu.
Left to right: Ruth Thompson and Flavia Hazen.
Business and economics was another area of study that co-eds could now study upon their arrival at Gonzaga.
This article in The Bulletin interviewed the first co-ed, Dorothy McGowan, who discussed her wish to see co-ed organizations on campus, but also her greater priority of focusing on her school work for that semester as she was taking fifteen credit hours. McGowan transferred to Gonzaga from Saint Mary of the Wasatch at Salt Lake City in 1948.
Left to right: Linda Wingard, Patricia McGean, Dolores Clark, Marilyn Butler.
Admittance of female students into Gonzaga helped women to study in areas that were typically regarded as an area of study for male students. Women in this photo, taken in 1960, competed for the title of “Miss Dynamic”, the Queen who was crowned at the annual Engineer’s Club mixer.