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Notable Women Alumni

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Notable Women Alumni

  • Ellen Swallow Richards: First woman admitted to MIT. Graduated in 1873 with a BS in Chemistry. Richards would have received the first advanced degree at MIT, but MIT balked at granting this distinction to a woman and did not award its first advanced degree until 1886. An industrial and environmental chemist, her pioneering work in sanitary engineering and experimental research in domestic science laid a foundation for the new science of home economics. She was the founder of the home economics movement characterized by the application of science to the home, and the first to apply chemistry to the study of nutrition. Richards was a pragmatic feminist, as well as a founding ecofeminest, who believed that women’s work within the home was a vital aspect of the economy.
  • Katharine Dexter McCormick: Biologist, suffragist, and philanthropist. She got a BS in biology from MIT in 1904 (the second woman to get a degree from the Institute). After marrying Stanley McCormick, she became well known for her activism for women's rights, but also for her philanthropy. She is well known for being the primary funder for the research necessary to develop the first birth control pill.
  • Lois Lilley Howe: BS in architecture 1890 from MIT. Howe is known as America's first woman architect and the second woman in the US to found an architectural firm.
  • Eleanor Manning O'Connor: graduated with a BS degree in 1906 and later worked with Lois Howe on various architectural projects. She is known for being a strong advocate for creating decent public housing for all.
  • Sonita Lontoh: Earned her M.Eng. at MIT. A Silicon Valley technology executive at HP, Inc., who focuses mainly on Internet of Things (IoT) and Additive Manufacturing. Lontoh is a board member in multiple non-profit and professional organizations. Lontoh has been invited by the White House to speak at President Obama’s 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit and to attend a celebration for AAPI Women Champion of Change. She is the recipient of the Entrepreneurship and Corporate Excellence Award, is named one of the Global Emerging Leaders under 40, and is an inductee to the national Asian Hall of Fame.
  • Leelila Strogov: General assignment reporter for Fox 11 News (KTTV) specializing in investigative and feature reports. Before this, she was the senior vice president of business development in an internet company called Juno Online Service. During her time there, she helped the company go public on the NASDAQ stock market. Leelila received her BS in writing from MIT.
  • Shirley Ann Jackson: American physicist who received her Ph.D. in physics at MIT in 1973, becoming the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT in nuclear physics. Her career led her to work at prestigious physics laboratories in the US and Europe. In 1995, President Clinton appointed Shirley as the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) making her the first woman and African American to do so. Jackson is the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
  • Elisabeth Zinser: Retired university president. She received her MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Zinser has been president of Southern Oregon University, the Lexington Campus of University of Kentucky, and University of Idaho (from most recent to oldest).
  • Irene Pepperberg: Scientist and active wildlife conservationist. She is well known for a studies in animal cognition especially her successful work in teaching Alex, an African Grey Parrot, a large vocabulary and the ability to identify objects by color, shape, number, and material. Pepperberg founded the Alex Foundation which helps support the cognitive research of parrots. Currently, Pepperberg is an adjunct psychology professor at Brandeis and a lecturer at Harvard. She received her BS from MIT.
  • Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper: American naval officer and former NASA astronaut. As a Navy Captain she has received numerous commendations including the Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, and two Navy Achievement Medals. In 1996 Stefanyshyn-Piper was selected to be an astronaut candidate. Her NASA career took her on two space shuttle missions and five spacewalks. She earned her BS and MS in mechanical engineering at MIT.
  • Janice Voss: American engineer and NASA astronaut. Voss got her Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering and her Ph.D. in aeronautics/astronautics from MIT. In 1990, she was selected as an astronaut candidate and flew in five space missions (holding the record for American women).
  • Robin Chase: Co-Founder and former CEO of Zipcar. Chase also founded various other companies in the transportation sector. She served on the US Department of Transportation Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Advisory Committee and was listed as one of the Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2009. Chase graduated from MIT Sloan School of Management and won a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
  • Andrea Wong: President of international production for Sony Pictures Television. Wong received her BS in electrical engineering. Prior to joining Sony, Wong served as president and CEO of Litetime Networks, and executive vice president at ABC where she developed shows such as The Bachelor, the US version of Dancing With the Stars, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Wong received an MBA from Stanford and serves on the boards of Liberty Media Corp., Liberty Interactive Corp., and Hudson's Bay Company. She is also a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, a member of the governing board of the British Film Institute and serves on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council.
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