Underground Degrees


The first women students studied business at Evening School of Commerce


Women earned degrees from Georgia Tech decades before Elizabeth Herndon VW and Barbara Diane Michel began attending classes in 1952. But the earlier group of women were limited to studying business-only at night and not on campus.

They attended the Evening School of Commerce in downtown Atlanta, a fiveyear program leading to a Tech degree in commercial science.

Amy T. Wise was the first woman to graduate from the Evening School in 1919, one year before the Georgia General Assembly actually gave its OK for women to attend the school. She was the sole woman in a class of 90 students. But in 1933, fearing that it would become a competitor to the University of Georgia's business school, the state Board of Regents abruptly transferred the Evening School to UGA's adult education program.

It ultimately became Georgia State University.

Juliet Dowling was one of the last five women to graduate with a Tech degree from the Evening School, in 1932. She ordered a man's graduation ring: "I figured I'd done a man-sized job, graduating from Tech."

Last fall, Georgia Tech enrolled 2,631 women, who made up 28 percent of the student population. The university also enrolled 813 women in the graduate program or 23 percent of the graduate student population.

Georgia Tech now ranks first in the country for the total number of degrees in en neering awarded to women.