The few women at Pitt drew little notice for the first 15 years after 1895. Most women enrolled in the liberal arts program, and one or two were in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. They did well academically, often taking top honors, but social life was limited at the North Side campus where most students, men and women, commuted by trolley and went home after classes.
Until the end of the nineteenth century, some people still believed that intellectual work for women might have adverse physical consequences, but by the 1890s enough college women survived the experience to dispel those fears. It was even suggested that educated women would improve the world. The Honorable Daniel Agnew eloquently expressed this view in an 1885 speech to the Alumni Association of the Western University of Pennsylvania:
"Who can estimate the wealth of knowledge a single educated mind diffuses? . . . In this view I do not confine myself to males, or exclude the power of education in woman. On the contrary, I see in her a force lifting up the world to its highest state of civilization, . . . men are discarding the old notions of her feebleness, and beginning to know that difference does not imply inferiority."
Daniel Agnew, LL.D.,
Ex Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
(Class of 1825) June 16, 1885.
Pi Theta Nu, the first sorority, formed in 1908. Women's organizations were rare until after 1910.
Women Students were treated with good humor, as long as their numbers remained small.