Women at Rider

Since Rider’s inception, women have played an integral role in the development of the college. Among its earliest students, women shared the classroom with their male counterparts as early as 1866, during Rider’s formative years as a business college located in Trenton, NJ. Although they made up less than ten percent of the student body, women were able to acquire the skills needed for employment in the business world. Early courses of study at the college included penmanship, accounting, bookkeeping, and shorthand.

The College dates back to 1865, when Henry Bryant, Henry Stratton, and William Whitney opened the Trenton Business College, which was part of the Bryant and Stratton chain of business colleges. In October 1866, new owner Joseph A. Beecher established the first women's department and moved the school to larger facilities. From 1868 to 1880, the school changed hands several times. Andrew J. Rider, who had been associated with the school since 1866, became its sole owner in 1880. He continued running the school until 1901, changing its name to Rider Business College in 1895.

In 1883, another Trenton business school was founded by Thomas J. Stewart and William P. Hammond that became known as the Stewart Business College. This school also offered significant educational opportunities for women. In 1901, Franklin B. Moore and John E. Gill bought both the Rider and Stewart Colleges, merging them to form the Rider-Moore and Stewart Business College, which was renamed Rider College in 1920.

Although most administrators and teachers were men, Rider had women employed in these roles as early as 1885. The first female full professors were established in 1929, when women made up a quarter of the overall faculty.

The first half of the 20th century saw the development of Rider in Trenton, although the campus never officially consisted of more than a few buildings and some (gender-segregated) housing for students, including sorority houses.

In the 1950s, plans were underway for the development of a new campus in Lawrenceville, NJ, located on a former farm. By 1964, the move to the new campus was complete. Several dormitories were built and housing eventually became co-ed in 1974.

The later decades of the 20th century saw the increased presence of women on campus, including in the ranks of faculty and administration. Reflecting a nationwide trend, the student body is currently almost 60 percent female. Well into the 21st century, women continue to have a significant impact on Rider’s continued development and evolution.