Katharine Dexter McCormick made a significant impact on women’s equality in the areas of suffrage, contraception, and scientific education.
First, as an officer of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, McCormick helped achieve the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. In 1919, she helped Carrie Chapman Catt found the League of Women Voters. As its first vice president, she educated women in the political process and worked to promote their political power.
Second, McCormick funded the essential research that led to the discovery and development of “the pill” (1956). Thereafter, she helped finance research on the pill’s long-term effects.
Finally, as a rare 1904 female graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she realized that one of the key barriers to women entering MIT was the lack of campus housing for them. In 1959 she fully funded MIT’s first on-campus residence for women, helping increase the number of women at MIT from 3% to 40% of the undergraduates. As a philanthropist and activist, McCormick significantly improved women’s social, political, economic and intellectual position in America.