Outspoken feminist, women’s rights advocate and renowned molecular biologist Shirley M. Tilghman will become the first woman in Princeton University’s 255-year-old history to hold the office of president. She is only the second woman to head an Ivy League institutionÑJudith Rodin was the first when she became president of the University of Pennsylvania, and Ruth J. Simmons will become the third when she becomes president of Brown University on July 1, 2001.
Tilghman joined Princeton in 1986, headed the school’s Institute for Integrative Geonomics in 1998, and was a pioneer in the mapping of the human genome and mammalian gene cloning. Tilghman also headed the National Institutes of Health committee that establishes guidelines for the use of embryonic stem cells in biomedical research. Throughout her career, Tilghman has supported women’s rights including abolishing tenure at universities because it often discriminates against women since the trial period leading up to the tenure decision usually coincides with childbearing years, pressuring many women to choose between family and career. Tilghman has also argued for the U.S. government to deny funding to scientific meetings that do not include women on their panels of presenters.