Leadership in gender equity

A timeline of our achievements in gender equity

We have a long history of leadership in gender equity which began in 1881 when we were one of the first universities in the world to admit women on the same basis as men.

How we've paved the way in gender equity

  • 1881

    We become one of the world’s first universities to admit women on equal terms with men after a unanimous decision by our governing body, the Senate.
  • 1885

    We celebrate the first two women to graduate from our Faculty of Arts, including Mary Brown (BA '1885). Pictured (above): A group of women students in academic dress in 1900. (Photo: G3_224_0328, University of Sydney Archives)
  • 1887

    We create our first women’s sporting club – a Ladies’ Tennis Club. Shortly after, we welcome our first two female alumni from Science and Medicine, including Fanny E Hunt (BSc '1888).
  • 1894

    We open Australia’s first university college for women, and, in the decade following, have women graduates in Pharmacy, Law and Dentistry, including Louisa Wilson (BPharm '1900).
  • 1909

    Elsie Dalyell is one of the first women to be awarded a Bachelor of Medicine with First-Class Honours. Today, the Dalyell Scholars program, part of our new undergraduate curriculum framework, is named after her. In 1910, we create the Sydney University Women’s Sports Association.
  • 1914

    The University forms an important new voice for women’s rights on campus – the Sydney University Women's Union. In the decade that follows, we see our first female alumni in Economics, Agriculture and Architecture, including Edith Swain (BEc '1914). Pictured (above): The Women's Union Board of Directors in 1917. (Photo: 'Hermes' November 1917)
  • 1919

    Constance D’Arcy becomes the first woman elected by graduates to join the Senate. Pictured (above): The cafe chantant, 13 September 1916, organised by women students to raise funds to support soldiers in World War One. (Photo: HP87-19-38, Ellice E P Dart (nee Hamilton), Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
  • 1931

    Kathleen Commins becomes the first woman editor of the influential publication, Hermes, which is now Australia’s oldest literary journal. In 1935, we have our first female Veterinary Science graduate, Patricia K Littlejohn (BVetSc '1935) (pictured, above).
  • 1943

    Moya McDade becomes the first woman President of the Students’ Representative Council. Five years later, Margaret Angas (AeroEng '1948), becomes our first female Engineering graduate.
  • 1965

    Felcia Corowa was the first known Aboriginal woman to be admitted to the University.
  • 1969

    Leonie Kramer became the first women professor at the University. Pictured (above): First year students (from left) Gillian Caley and Felicity Kades find their way around the University with help from Jim Friend during Orientation Week in 1957. (Photo: The Australian Women's Weekly, 20 March 1957, National Library of Australia)
  • 1972

    Men and women join forces to form a single University of Sydney union, which now promotes social and cultural life on campus. Pictured (above): Students in front of Fisher Library in 1974. (Photo G3_224_0933_1, University of Sydney Archives)
  • 1990

    Women students outnumber men for the first time, with 15,000 women enrolled in a student body of 26,000. Women still out number men today.
  • 1991

    Dame Leonie Judith Kramer is appointed the University’s first female Chancellor. Pictured (above): The Chancellor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO (left) conferring an honorary degree upon Emeritus Professor Dame Leonie Kramer AC DBE in 2009. (Photo: Copyright Memento Photography)
  • 2006

    The University launches an important new academic hub for female students, practitioners and established academics around the globe that aims to have a strong and positive influence on policy development.
  • 2014

    The University of Sydney Business School partners with the UN Women National Committee Australia to promote gender equality at the most senior levels of Australia’s public, corporate and not-for-profit sectors. We hold an inaugural women at work symposium, to support career progression for our female staff.
  • 2016

    To achieve greater representation of women in University leadership by 2020, the University launches its women’s Career Acceleration and Leadership Strategy. In 2016, the number of female professors at Sydney reaches 31 percent, up from 28 percent in 2015. Our SAGE pilot program takes off to promote gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
  • 2018

    University of Sydney researchers publish first report examining women and the future of work, finding that Australian workplaces are not ready to meet young women's career aspirations or support their future success.

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