First women

Martha May Eliot, former chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health and first woman president of the American Public Health Association

[Fall 2013 Centennial issue]

First to admit women on the same basis as men
In November 1913, the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers became the first academic program at Harvard to admit and credential women on the same basis as men. The credential awarded was the CPH—a certificate in public health.

First woman to receive a Harvard credential
Harvard University’s first credentialed woman was Linda Frances James, born in 1891, who received her certificate in public health from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers in 1917.

Progress by degrees
In 1936, HSPH became the second of Harvard’s professional schools to grant degrees to women. The first was the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Today, about 60 percent of HSPH students are women.

First woman professor
“A woman on the Harvard faculty!” marveled the Boston Sunday Globe on March 23, 1919, describing the sensation created by the appointment of Harvard’s first female professor, Alice Hamilton, who served as assistant professor of industrial medicine on the faculty of the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers and Harvard Medical School. Hamilton’s appointment, at the age of 50, was subject to three restrictions: She was not to be allowed into the Faculty Club, nor to participate in academic processions at commencement, and was not eligible for faculty tickets to football games.

Madeline Drexler

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