2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Regents’ Resolution that “young ladies be admitted into the University on equal terms in all respects with young men.” The resolution was passed just two years after the university’s founding. It took sixty more years before Helen Ruth Rosenberg became the first woman to graduate with a PhD in Political Science in 1930, twenty-seven years after the creation of a separate Department of Political Science in 1903.
While women continued to be severely underrepresented in the department’s graduate student body and faculty in the first half of the century, there has been a sharp increase in representation in the last fifty years. The percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women increased from a mere 7.5% in 1966-69 to 41% in 2010-19. More than one-third of the women recipients of doctoral degrees between 2010 and 2019 were non-white American women.
Meanwhile, the share of women undergraduates in the department increased from 33% in 1966-69 to 59% in 2019-20. The percentage of women on the faculty in the department has also grown from 2.8% in 1966-69 to 29%, paving the way for a next generation of young women political scientists.
Interviews and archival research for this site were conducted by Ritika Goel (Ph.D. student), under the direction of Professor Alison Post. Data sources for the introduction include the 150 Years of Women at Berkeley Project, 2020, and the Report of the Subcommittee on the Status of Academic Women on the Berkeley Campus, University of California, Berkeley, 1970.
Read the stories of some of the trailblazing women at Berkeley Political Science.