Womens History Month logo

Women at ODU : Builders of Communities & Dreams
Click on images to see full view /article.


Women War Workers (ODU)
1942 ODU faculty
1956 ODU graduation

1940s During World War II, the Norfolk Division recruited women into its war-training program which later grew into the Technical Institute.

1942 Early faculty of the Norfolk Division of William & Mary included four women, primarily in traditional female roles.
--Photo from Rutyna, p. 48.

1956 The first four-year graduating class from the Norfolk Division of William & Mary included one woman.
--Photo from Brydges, p. 13

The 1970s brought changes to women's roles in American society and at ODU.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 :

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance. 

1972 : Title IX was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students and employees of educational institutions. Title IX benefits both males and females, and is at the heart of efforts to create gender equitable schools. The law requires educational institutions to maintain policies, practices and programs that do not discriminate against anyone based on sex. Under this law, males and females are expected to receive fair and equal treatment in all arenas of public schooling: recruitment, admissions, educational programs and activities, course offerings and access, counseling, financial aid, employment assistance, facilities and housing, health and insurance benefits, marital and parental status, scholarships, sexual harassment, and athletics. (from http://www.american.edu/sadker/titleix.htm)

Carolyn Rhodes at Title IX Hearing
"Dr. Carolyn H. Rhodes... addresses one of the Title IX hearings"

1972 : A "Women's Studies" course was established by the History Department's Dr. Jean Friedman, popular lecturer Nan Fry, and a student group called "Women's Liberation of ODU." This was the first such course in Tidewater.

1972 : "Women in American History" was the first credit course from a feminist viewpoint. It was taught by Dr. Dorothy Johnson in the History Department.

1974 : The Faculty Women's Caucus was organized to advance the welfare of women throughout the university.

1974 : In an effort to provide gender equality in athletics, Athletic Director Dr. James Jarrett initiated athletic scholarships for women in 1974, becoming the first institution in Virginia to do so, and among the first in the nation.

1975 : The Norfolk/Virginia Beach chapter of the National Organization of Women posed questions to Provost Charles O. Burgess regarding ODU affirmative action/equal employment opportunity plans.

1975 : The U.S. Dept. of Labor's Wage and Hourly Division investigated salary complaints made by female faculty members, but their findings were "left incomplete for complex legal reasons."

1976 : Partly in response to Title IX, the Women's Center opened, to address the special challenges of women.

1976 : Alfred B. Rollins became president, and he supported efforts to improve gender inequities of the faculty. Read an excerpt from an oral history interview with Dr. Rollins.

1977 : Women's Studies pilot program began with funding from an NEH grant. The permanent program was established in 1978.

1979-80 : Salary, tenure, and hiring inequities began to reverse.

Some salary and tenure statistics from 1974-75:
(from Brydges, page 89)

•  Male faculty members made as much as $3,000 more than women faculty

•  The school had 490 male and 101 female faculty members

•  55% of male faculty members got tenure, while 30% of the women did, a figure below the national average

Julie White, Carolyn Rhodes, Nancy Bazin

  • Julie White, 2nd Director of the Women's Center
  • Carolyn Rhodes, Co-organizer of the Women's Caucus
  • Nancy Bazin, 1st Director of the Women's Studies program

The Women's Center, the Women's Caucus and the Women's Studies Department have endured and grown since the 1970s to build a community of women at ODU and to open up doors and inspire dreams among the students and employees of ODU.


Copyright © 2006 Old Dominion University Libraries