History of UK and Women Students

October 19, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Social history

I was shocked to discover that the University of Kentucky’s womens basketball team was actually started a year before the mens in 1902.

However, that excitement was almost immediately shut down when I read that in 1924 the University Senate passed a bill that discontinued the womens team because if the game was too strenuous for the boys (which they thought) then it must be way too strenuous for the girls. So dumb.

I continued looking at the history of women and the roles they were allowed to play with the establishment of the University. In 1880, the Agricultural and Mechanical College allowed women to enroll, 15 years after the college itself was established.

Aside from the ridiculousness of the women’s basketball team, UK reestablished basketball and began gymnastics, track, tennis, swimming, and golf for women in 1974. A little late in my opinion, but better late than never I guess.

And in 1980, it was recorded that more women were earning degrees than men.

Overall, the University of Kentucky has had their ups and downs when it comes to being an equal opportunity school. We are lucky to attend during a time of equality!

3 responses to History of UK and Women Students

  1. I also didn’t know the women’s basketball team was started first! That’s pretty cool! 🙂

  2. Your right we are lucky to live in a time of equality. Imagine the pressure woman in the fifties or forties felt coming to school here with few females!

  3. Um – sorry to tell you guys… but our University is still pretty far behind our benchmarks in terms of equity and really have not progressed as we ought to have done. A stark example is the percentage of women faculty progressing through the tenure ranks at UK – a role that is basically at the heart of any University. According to the UK Faculty Senate’s report produced in 1999: “In 1944-45, women comprised 25% of the faculty; in 1999, they comprise 28% of the faculty.” So, I would suppose that women coming to the University in 1999 felt about the same as those who came in the 1940s and 50s, don’t you? This low percentage of women faculty has remained relatively static since then (see the graph at – and the only group that has increased in the percentage of women are “graduate students” (which the UK Women’s Report firmly stated were the most vulnerable group to harrassment and other forms of discrimination at UK). We need to have many more activists and a few more revolutions to improve this trend!

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