Celebrating 150 years of women at Berkeley

In 1870, while the nascent, campus-less University of California was operating in Oakland, the UC Regents unanimously approved a resolution with profound implications for the world: they admitted women to the university. In fact, Berkeley was one of the earliest institutions of higher education in the country to formally adopt a policy admitting women. Over the next 150 years, women have made immeasurable contributions to campus.

Here, a look at some of the trailblazing accomplishments from women in the Berkeley Haas community.

Cora Jane Flood

Launching the College of Commerce

Cora Jane Flood

Cora Jane Flood’s substantial gift in 1898—then the largest private contribution in the university’s 30-year history—launched the College of Commerce. During its 44 years in existence, this precursor to the business school granted 5,512 Bachelor of Science degrees in commerce, with 13.4% going to women. Mary Dickson was the first woman to get a degree, in 1906.

Catherine Quire

Breaking teaching barriers

Catherine DeMotte Greene Quire

In 1937, Catherine DeMotte Greene Quire, BA 15, MA 29 (economics) became the first woman to teach accounting in a university business school. She was also the first female tenure-track faculty member in Berkeley’s business school and served as assistant then associate dean of women at Berkeley.

Margo Alexander

Smashing Wall Street’s glass ceiling

Margo Alexander

Margo Alexander, BS 68, rose to become one of the most senior women on Wall Street as CEO and chairman of UBS Global Asset Management—the first woman to oversee a major trading floor and to head a top-ranked research department.

Janet Yellen

Influencing markets worldwide

Janet Yellen

In 2014, Professor Emeritus Janet Yellen became the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve. From 1980–2004, she taught thousands of Berkeley Haas students in the undergraduate, full-time MBA, and evening and weekend MBA programs.

Laura Tyson

Advising government

Laura D’Andrea Tyson

Laura D’Andrea Tyson was the first woman to serve as top economic advisor to a U.S. president when she was appointed chair of the National Economic Council in 1995 by Bill Clinton.

In 1998, Laura D’Andrea Tyson became the first woman to serve as dean of Berkeley Haas—the only woman serving as dean of a major American business school at the time and the first endowed dean on the Berkeley campus. She served until 2001 and again as interim dean in 2018.

Soyeon Yi

Exploring outer space

Soyeon Yi

South Korea’s first astronaut, Soyeon Yi, MBA 14, spent ten days at the International Space Station in 2008. After a whirlwind few years of speaking engagements, Yi decided to add an MBA to her PhD in biotech systems.

Ulrike Malmendier

Pioneering behavioral economics research

Ulrike Malmendier

Professor Ulrike Malmendier is the first woman to win the American Finance Association’s prestigious Fischer Black Prize for her work in behavioral economics. The biennial award honors the top finance scholar under the age of 40 and is modeled after the Fields Medal in mathematics and the Clark Medal in economics.

Kellie McElhaney

Championing equality and inclusion

Kellie McElhaney

Distinguished Teaching Fellow Kellie McElhaney founded the Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership in 2017 to support research and teaching in gender equity and inclusion of all underrepresented minorities. McElhaney is EGAL’s executive director; Professor Laura Kray serves as faculty director.

Eleni Kounalakis

Serving California

Eleni Kounalakis

Eleni Kounalakis, MBA 92, became California’s first elected female lieutenant governor in 2019. She’d previously served as President Obama’s U.S. ambassador to Hungary—at 43, one of the youngest women to head a U.S. embassy.

Ann Harrison

Leading Berkeley Haas

Ann Harrison

In 2019, current Dean Ann Harrison became the second woman to serve as dean of Berkeley Haas. Harrison has deep Berkeley roots. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in economics and history. She also served as a professor of Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics from 2001 to 2011.

Leading Berkeley Haas

Women occupy numerous high-level leadership positions at the Haas School, including five of the six degree programs:

Jamie Breen
Assistant Dean, MBA Programs for Working Professionals

Courtney Chandler, MBA 96
Senior Assistant Dean and Chief Strategy & Operating Officer

Melissa Hacker
Executive Director, PhD Program

Linda Kreitzman
Executive Director, Master of Financial Engineering Program

Michelle Marquez
Assistant Dean, Human Resources & Administration

Abby Scott
Assistant Dean, Career Management & Corporate Relations

Erika Walker
Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Program

Catherine Wolfram
Associate Dean, Academic Affairs & Chair of the Faculty

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