A new series of posters in the main corridor of Fondren Library illuminates the ongoing achievements of Rice alumnae. “The Women of Rice” is the third such poster project from the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality (CSWGS), this time spotlighting the stories of female alums from seven of Rice’s schools.
Under the School of Humanities, you’ll find women such as Angela Hunt ’94, the youngest woman elected to Dallas City Council, and Merle Gross-Ginsburg ‘57, who founded the Association of Real Estate Women in 1978 after being denied entry to the men’s association.
The School of Engineering includes renowned statistician Talithia Williams ’08
, the first black woman to achieve tenure at Harvey Mudd College, and Monica Pal ’84, one of Rice’s first computer science graduates and current CEO of Silicon Valley startup 4iQ.
According to CSWGS Administrator Angela Wren Wall, the list of highly accomplished women in each school went on and on, said CSWGS administrator Angela Wren Wall, who added that without the work of CSWGS Coordinator Diana Schilling who researched these alumnae, the exhibit never would have happened.
Each week, Wall and Schilling vetted alumna after alumna, eventually landing on a diverse group with impressive accomplishments occurring at Rice and beyond — and just in time to install the exhibit for Rice’s 100th Homecoming.
“I can tell you we’re not done,” Wall said with a laugh. Together, she and Schilling found “so many awesome women” that another poster project is already planned for the future.
For now, however, the short stories of 76 Rice alumnae are told across nine boards. Although Wall couldn’t pick a favorite story from the bunch, a few stand out nevertheless, such as that of one Depression-era chemistry student, Emily Ladner ‘37, who flouted conventions for women at the time by wearing “trousers” and conducting her science experiments in the on-campus labs after Rice’s 5 p.m. curfew for female students.
“She did it anyway,” Wall said. “And then she would crawl out the window.”
Wall also included a special “love note” to Kean, who helped the CSWGS team solve a mystery or two during the research process. Much of Kean’s own highly regarded work over the years has been informed by the scrupulous record-keeping and note-taking of three other Rice alumnae: Alice Dean, Sarah Lane and Pender Turnbull, a trio of librarians wholly devoted to their alma mater.
“Without Melissa, we probably wouldn’t even be aware of many of these women,” Wall said. “She’s the ‘holy three’ that we have now; she’s the one continuing their work.”