Factors such as the Women's Movement and the World Wars led to more women applying to colleges and universities in the first half of the 20th century. While women's colleges remained popular, more women also began applying to traditionally male-only colleges.
Some institutions and employers were more willing and ready than others to accept women into their organizations. The first woman to attend the University of North Carolina was Sallie Walker Stoddard, who graduated in 1898.
Kathrine Robinson Everett recalls her acceptance to the School of Law at the University of North Carolina after being turned down by the University of Virginia. The year was 1919 and the University of Virginia explained in the rejection letter they sent to Everett that they were "still ungracious enough not to take women" into their program (although they began accepting women shortly thereafter). Everett earned her law degree with honors from UNC and went on to have a long, distinguished legal career as one of the first female lawyers in the state.
African-American women in particular faced discrimination based on both sex and race when applying to colleges and universities. In 1938, Pauli Murray was the first African-American woman to apply to the University of North Carolina, but was denied admittance to the law school because of her race. Three years later, Murray enrolled in law school at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. The first African-American woman to enroll at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Karen Parker, did not arrive until 1963.