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.
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.
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 also served as assistant then associate dean of women at Berkeley.
Achieving academic equality
Karlene H. Roberts
In 1970, Karlene H. Roberts, who taught in the Organizational Behavior and Industrial Relations Group, became the first female tenure-track faculty member in Berkeley’s business school. She’s now professor emeritus.
Developing accomplished professionals
Lisa Rawlings, EMBA 19, is the first Black female president and CEO of the National Urban Fellows Organization. NUF provides a rigorous, 14-month, full-time graduate program for mid-career professionals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, particularly people of color and women.
Smashing Wall Street’s glass ceiling
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.
Influencing markets worldwide
In 2021, Professor Emeritus Janet Yellen shattered yet another glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to serve as U.S. Treasury secretary. She was also the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve from 2014-2018. For 24 years, she taught thousands of Berkeley Haas students in the undergraduate, full-time MBA, and the evening and weekend MBA programs.
Strengthening diplomatic ties
Laura Flores, MBA 95, was the longest-serving woman to represent Panama as the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2014–17).
Laura D’Andrea Tyson
Laura D’Andrea Tyson was the first woman to serve as a top economic advisor to a U.S. president when she was appointed chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (1993–95) and director of the National Economic Council (1995–96) 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.
Exploring outer space
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.
Pioneering behavioral economics research
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.
Playing in the big leagues
Talia Caldwell, BS 13, is the first Haas alumna to play pro basketball. She played for teams in Europe and earned a stint with the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
Championing women in leadership
Professor Laura Kray pioneered the Women’s Executive Leadership program through Berkeley Executive Education in 2008, spawning similar EMBA & EWMBA programs.
Promoting equity and inclusion
Distinguished Teaching Fellow Kellie McElhaney founded the Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership in 2017 to support research and teaching in gender, equity, and inclusion. McElhaney is EGAL’s executive director; Prof. Laura Kray oversees EGAL as faculty director.
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.
Administering business education
Lisa Ordóñez, MS 92, became the first woman dean at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management in 2019.
Leading Berkeley Haas
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.