8 Women to Know in Tech History

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Article by Emma Ryan When Sally Lam Woo attended Georgia Tech in the 1960s, all of the female students in the school shared a single bathroom on campus. “We only had 30 girls in the whole school,” Woo said in an interview with Tech Living History. “No matter where you were on campus, you had to run to that restroom.”  In 1959, Woo immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong. While she was at Tech, she lived in the enclosed porch of the women’s dorm on Fifth Street because there was no space elsewhere. She was used to being the only girl in class, and the only time she saw the other coeds was when they ran into one other in the restroom. In 1966, she earned a degree in Chemical Engineering, making her the first female Asian to graduate from Tech.  Tech has come a long way since Woo’s time. In 2017, the Institute admitted a first-year class that was more than 40% female — its highest percentage to date. In honor of Women’s History Month, meet eight women in Tech’s history who helped make Tech what it is today.  Dorothy Crosland In 1953, Dorothy Crosland became Tech’s director of libraries, a position she held until her retirement in 1971. Crosland helped create the Library as students have known it for years. For example, she oversaw the construction of the current building and the Graduate Addition (renamed “Crosland Tower” in 1985). A history of the Tech Library records that Crosland took a trip to Europe in 1945 to purchase journal issues for the library’s collection. According to Tech’s Living History website, Crosland also hand wrote the letter of explanation that resulted in women being allowed to attend Tech. Diane Michel  Diane Michel was the first woman to complete a degree from start to finish at Tech. Along with Elizabeth Herndon, Michel was also the first woman to graduate from Tech, earning a bachelor’s in industrial engineering in 1956.  Tawana Miller Tawana Miller was the first African American woman to matriculate through the undergraduate program at Tech. In 1976, she earned her bachelor’s in industrial management. In 1993, she earned a Master of Education from Georgia State University, and a Doctor of Education from Seton Hall University in 2008. Miller currently works as an educational consultant and has served as the steering committee co-chair for the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization.  Bernadette McGlade In 1981, Bernadette McGlade became Tech’s first full-time female coach when she began coaching the women’s basketball team. For 16 years, McGlade served as Tech’s senior associate athletic director, and she is currently in her 13th year as the Atlantic 10 Conference commissioner. Sports Business Journal described her as “one of the most well-respected and experienced leaders in Division I athletics.”  Lisa Volmar After 23 years of male drivers, Lisa Volmar (who earned a bachelor’s in industrial engineering in 1986) became the first woman to drive the Ramblin’ Wreck. Volmar and her sister both studied at Tech, and in 2002, she told Tech’s Alumni Magazine, “We felt that being female was irrelevant to our ambitions.” Volmar is currently the senior director of product development for insurance at Transunion.  Sue Rosser  In 1999, Sue Rosser became Tech’s first female dean when she assumed the role of dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. During her time as dean, Rosser created three new doctoral programs, three master's programs, and four bachelor's programs, and doubled student enrollment. In 2009, she was named provost at San Francisco State University. Rosser’s scholarship has focused on women in science and technology, and she has authored or edited 14 books and more than 120 journal articles.  Jane Ammons  In 1982, Jane Ammons became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Tech. And in 2011, she became the first female school chair in the College of Engineering when she assumed the role of chair of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Ammons has also chaired the U.S. National Science Foundation Engineering Advisory Committee and has received eight faculty/teaching awards at Tech. Currently, Ammons serves as professor emerita in Industrial and Systems Engineering. 


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: eryan32
  • Created: 03/08/2021
  • Modified By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Modified: 03/10/2021

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