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Women at Thayer: Historic Milestones

Mar 26, 2021   |   by Julie Bonette

In honor of Women’s History Month, Dartmouth Engineering joins the nation in commemorating the vital role women have played and continue to play throughout history. Here we observe and celebrate just some of the milestones of women at Thayer who've helped pave the way toward achieving diversity and equity in engineering.


Women are first allowed to take graduate courses in engineering, although Dartmouth is not yet coeducational.


Visnja Gembicki GRAD'73 Th'73 (pictured) and Susan Liu Yang Th'73 become the first women to earn MS degrees in engineering, just one year after coeducation is officially adopted at Dartmouth.

"If you don't see any women in science, it's difficult to think of yourself doing that sort of thing."

Margaret Fanning Th'79


Professor Ann Marks Kratzer becomes the first woman to join the Dartmouth engineering faculty.


Diane Knappert Clark '77 Th'78 '81 becomes the first woman to earn a Doctor of Engineering degree at Dartmouth.


Joyce Mechling Nagle Th'90 becomes the first woman to earn a PhD in engineering sciences at Dartmouth.


Thayer Associate Dean Carol Muller '77 cofounds Dartmouth's Women in Science Project (WISP) to encourage female students to pursue science, math, and engineering.


Elsa Garmire becomes Thayer's first female dean and uses her position to advocate for research centers of excellence and a building expansion.


In a national first, women earn more than 50 percent of undergraduate engineering degrees at Dartmouth.


With Professor Laura Ray as the new Interim Dean, Thayer celebrates the first-ever all-female team in the Dean’s suite: (l to r) Barbara Belloir, Executive Assistant to the Dean; Marcia Craig Jacobs, Assistant Dean, Administration; Dean Ray; Christine Cook, Chief Financial & Administrative Officer; Molly Howard, Administrative Coordinator.


In recognition of her efforts to advance the role of women and girls in technology, Dartmouth engineering professor Petra Bonfert-Taylor is named TechTeacher of the Year by the NH High Tech Council’s TechWomen | TechGirls Committee.


Alexis Abramson, mechanical engineer and leader in sustainable technology, becomes Thayer’s second female dean.

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