Mary Bell Bald, Catherine Brown, Margaret Brown, Ella Gardiner, and Margaret Langley

(1885 UC)

Pioneers Mary Bell Bald, Catherine Brown, Margaret Brown, Ella Gardiner, and Margaret Langley were the first women students to attend lectures at University College, starting on October 6, 1884, and graduating in 1885.

The hard-won battle for admission was initiated more than a decade earlier by trailblazer Henrietta Charles. As a female, she was not permitted to attend classes at UC and resorted to a private tutor, passing exams and graduating in 1870.

While women were permitted to attend lectures by 1884, they continued to face obstructions and inequities. Female students were prohibited from using the reading room and library catalogues, and from standing at bulletin boards in the halls; class notices were sent to their private waiting room. Women required the president’s permission to join clubs, and did not get their own residence or gymnasium until 1905 and 1959, respectively.

In spite of these obstacles, Bald, Gardiner, Langley, and the Brown sisters blazed the trail for generations of female UC students to come.

(Pictured: Margaret Langley)

Year: 
2013