Catherine Brewer was the first woman in the United States to earn a bachelor's degree in 1840. That's relatively recently when you consider Harvard had been accepting and graduating men for more than 200 years at that point. Brewer, who graduated from Wesleyan College, a women-only institution in Macon, Georgia, paved the way for a slew of historic firsts for women in education over the next 40 years.
The 19th century saw the founding of women-only and coed institutions and expanded access to curricula beyond vocational training or limitations set by a woman's perceived societal role. And while it wasn't immediate equality for all, it was significant progress. Today, women in college outnumber men 2:1, according to the most recent enrollment data analyzed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (It is important to note that the St. Louis Fed breaks its data down by men and women and lacks any tracked data for trans or nonbinary students.)
Women are also enrolling full-time at top business schools at a record rate. The nonprofit Forte Foundation found that women comprised at least 45% of enrollment at a record 17 business school MBA programs. The number of women-led Fortune 500 companies reached 44 in 2022—a record high but still a relatively small share.
Best Universities collected information on the schools that the top 10 women Fortune 500 CEOs attended, using company websites, news coverage, and LinkedIn. The compilation includes undergraduate, post-graduate, and honorary degrees, as well as graduation years when available.