150 Years of Women at Berkeley, and the GSE

Throughout 2020, the GSE is joining campus in celebrating 150 Years of Women at Berkeley

October 3, 2020, marks the 150th anniversary of the UC Regents’ unanimous approval in 1870 of  a resolution by Regent Samuel F. Butterworth: “That young ladies be admitted into the University on equal terms in all respects with young men.” The first women were admitted to the university in 1872, and by 1898, Millicent Washburn Shinn earned her PhD from the Department of Pedagogy (the precursor to what is now the Graduate School of Education). 

There are many other notable women who have come through the GSE, some of whom are listed below. If you know of others, please send an e-mail to gsenews@berkeley.edu



Millicent Washburn Shinn

1898: Millicent Washburn Shinn earns her PhD from the Department of Pedagogy (the precursor to what is now the Graduate School of Education). She is the first woman to earn a doctoral degree at the University of California. Her dissertation is titled, "Notes on the Development of a Child."

Ida Louise Jackson

1923: Ida Louise Jackson is the founding member of the Rho Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Berkeley. Jackson earned her both her bachelor and master degrees in Education from Berkeley. She is the first African-American certified by the State of California to teach in a California public high school; and in 1926, she became the first black teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. In 2004, campus renamed its dorms on the corner of College and Durant Avenues the Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House in her honor. Read an interview with Jackson.

Geraldine Jonçich Clifford

1965: GSE Professor Emerita Geraldine Jonçich Clifford is the first woman to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in Education. Professor Clifford also wrote extensively on women in teaching and higher education. In 1992, American Educational Research Association awarded her the Willystine Goodsell Award for contributions to women and women's issues in educational research. Professor Clifford was a member of the Berkeley faculty for 32 years, retiring in 1994.

K. Patricia Cross

1966: GSE Professor Emerita K. Patricia Cross is hired as a researcher at Berkeley, and is the first woman appointed to the executive committee of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, a professional association for higher education student affairs administrators. While her scholarly work focused on social psychology, Professsor Cross also taught high school mathematics, and later held several administrative positions in instutions of higher education, including Dean of Students at Cornell University. Professor Cross left Berkeley briefly in the 1980s, and by 1988 returned to the West Coast. She retired from Berkeley in 1995.

Carol Liu ’63, C.EAS ’82

1982: Former state Sen. Carol Liu ’63, C.EAS ’82 earns her administrative credential from the GSE, and went on to teach for several years. She later ran for local and state public office, and in 2008 became the first Asian-American woman elected to the California State Senate. She has established the GSE’s Carol Liu Chair in Education Policy and is trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation board.

Angela Little '13 PhD

2007: Then GSE student Angela Little and two physics classmates found Berkeley’s The Compass Project, a free summer program for freshman interested in the physical sciences. Their aim is to improve undergraduate physics education; provide our participants with opportunities for professional development; and increase retention of students, especially those from populations typically underrepresented in the physical sciences. In 2012, the project received the Award for Improving Undergraduate Education from the American Physical Society. Little earned her PhD in Education in 2013, and today continues to research physics education. She also serves on her tribe’s (Chinook Nation) Education and Scholarship Committee.

Christine Sims '04 PhD

2008: GSE alumna Christine Sims '04 PhD co-founds The American Indian Language Policy Research and Teacher Training Center at the University of New Mexico. The Center aims to serve as a local and national center of collaborative research that examines major policy issues affecting the survival and maintenance of American Indian languages. The Center also provides a venue for building an international dialogue about language issues that extends to other indigenous languages of the Americas. Sims specializes in Indigenous language revitalization and maintenance issues, providing technical assistance to Indigenous nations in language program planning and training American Indian language teachers.

Judith Warren Little

2010: GSE Professor Emerita Judith Warren Little begins her tenure as the Dean of the Graduate School of Education. Professor Little is the first female to serve in the position full-time since the GSE’s founding in 1892. She began her career as a school bus driver and substitute teacher in rural Colorado, eventually earning PhD in Sociology and becoming an expert in education policy and teacher professional development. She retired in 2015 and holds the position of a Professor of the Graduate School at Berkeley.

Mary Vixie Sandy ’13 EdD

2011: GSE alumna Mary Vixie Sandy ’13 EdD is appointed Executive Director of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. In her role, she oversees public policy related to educator preparation and licensing; and directs an agency that awards more than 250,000 credential documents per year, and accredits more than 250 colleges, universities and local education agencies offering educator preparation programs.

Prudence L. Carter

2016: Prudence L. Carter is named Dean of the Graduate School of Education. She becomes the GSE's first African-American woman dean, and the GSE's second female to serve as full-time dean since the GSE’s founding in 1892. Dean Carter is the E.H. and Mary E. Pardee Professor, and her research focuses on factors that both shape and reduce economic, social and cultural inequalities among social groups in schools and society. A sociologist, she examines academic and mobility differences influenced by the dynamics of race, ethnicity, poverty, class, and gender in U.S. and global society.

Judy K. Sakaki ’91 PhD

2016: GSE alumna Judy K. Sakaki ’91 PhD begins her tenure as president of Sonoma State University. At the time of her appointment, she was the first Japanese-American woman in the nation to lead a four-year college or university. A product of Oakland public schools, and public colleges in California, Sakaki graduated from Berkeley with a PhD in Education. After just one year on the job at Sonoma State, the CSU Student Association name her President of the Year.