Asee peer logo

Zero To 36% In Thirty Years – A History Of Female Undergraduates At Caltech

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1324.1 - 8.1324.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Carol Mullenax

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

Zero to 36% in Thirty Years – A History of Female Undergraduates at Caltech Carol Mullenax Tulane University


Over the now thirty-four years of female undergraduate presence on the Caltech campus, a steady increase in female enrollment has occurred. The nature of this increase, the driving factors behind it, and the portion of the female population in engineering at the Institute over time are investigated and compared to both total Institute population and national norms.


The author hopes to quantify the enrollment gains for undergraduate women at Caltech, to determine whether the increases have been homogenous across fields of study, and also to detail what mechanisms have been employed by the Institute in order to encourage more women to enroll.


A small, private institution focused on science, math, and engineering, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is located in the quiet Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, CA. Although women had taken part in graduate programs since the turn of the 20th century, the Institute’s first baccalaureate degree was awarded to a woman in 1973. To date, less than one thousand women are undergraduate alumnae of Caltech.

Academics Caltech is organized into six divisions as shown in Figure 1, one of which is Engineering & Applied Science. This division encompasses all engineering disciplines except Chemical

Physics, Physics, Geology & Geology & Engineering Engineering Chemistry & Chemistry & Humanities Humanities Math & Math & Planetary Planetary & Applied & Applied Chemical Chemical Biology Biology & Social & Social Astronomy Astronomy Science Science Science Science Engineering Engineering Sciences Sciences

Aeronautics Aeronautics Chemical Engineering Applied Mechanics Chemical Engineering Applied Mechanics Bioengineering Bioengineering Civil Engineering Civil Engineering Computation & Neural Systems Computation & Neural Systems Computer Science Computer Science Control & Dynamic Systems Control & Dynamic Systems Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineering Environmental Science & Engineering Environmental Science & Engineering Materials Science Materials Science Mechanical Engineering Mechanical Engineering

Figure 1: Academic divisions at Caltech, and engineering options (majors) within that structure

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Mullenax, C. (2003, June), Zero To 36% In Thirty Years – A History Of Female Undergraduates At Caltech Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12305

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015