Our family spent the Thanksgiving break in Dublin. I thought about the discussions here while on a tour of Trinity College, when our guide pointed out a statue of the Reverend George Salmon, the college’s provost from 1888 to 1904. Salmon was infamous, he told us, for having announced that women would be let into the college “over my dead body.”
That’s pretty much what happened: he reluctantly acquiesced in 1901 to mounting pressure, both popular and royal, to allow women to attend. He died in 1904, and the first woman entered the college less than a month later. Now, women outnumber men in enrollment, although they are underrepresented among the faculty.
The college holds an annual ball to celebrate the last day of the spring term. “I didn’t attend last year,” our guide told us, “but I was on campus the next day. There were at least three pairs of women’s underwear decorating Provost Salmon’s head.”