Women & Entrepreneurship

While Northeastern University was officially incorporated in 1916, women were not admitted until nearly three decades later in 1943. These are the first six women admitted to Northeastern on registration day in May 1943. Helen L. Yates Culbertson, on the far right, was the first female Business Administration student.

Grace C. Johanson received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Northeastern University on June 16, 1957. Here, she is pictured presenting her parents with a Certificate of Appreciation for their encouragement, contribution, and understanding during her business education.

This female student is filing papers at her desk during her co-op placement. There is a history of women being discriminated against in the cooperative education program. In 1969, female students in the Business Administration program submitted a petition to the Northeastern administration accusing certain employers in the co-op program with discrimination because the female students were given less opportunities than their male counterparts. A Northeastern administrator responded to the petition in a Northeastern University News article published two years later saying, "'As I recollect, we couldn't substantiate the charge. Discrimination is not something you can really put your finger on. Usually its a feeling which only the individuals involved can express.'"

Today, Northeastern University takes an active approach to support women in entrepreneurship. The Women's Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship, known as WISE, is a student-led organization that hosts programming to support women develop entrepreneurial thinking in all fields and industries. "Only 5% of venture capital funding goes to women founded companies, and there are more men named James leading Fortune 500 companies than women leading Fortune 500 companies. WISE was created to change those statistics!" Northeastern also launched the Women Who Empower initiative in 2018 which "celebrates female-led ventures, old and new; empowers generations of female entrepreneurs by providing them with mentorships, scholarships, and valuable resources; and facilitates connections for entrepreneurial-minded women within Northeastern’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem."