Introduction

Leaving China & the
Journey Across the
Pacific

Cultural Traditions

Women in Early
Chinatowns

Anti-Chinese Violence
& Women's Resistance

Chinese Women at
Work

Educational
Opportunities

Women in Cultural
Work

The Great Depression
and War

Conclusion

Additional Resources


 

 

 

Chinese American Women Enter Colleges and Universities

Portrait of Kang Tung Pih.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-42141

The Chinese American women who managed to be admitted and graduated from American colleges found opportunities to enter the professions of law and medicine, which were slowly accepting women.

In 1909, Kang Tung Pih was one of the few Chinese women students attending an American university, Barnard College in New York City. Harper’s Weekly, the leading American illustrated periodical of its day, interviewed Kang Tung Pih on July 24, 1909.

In “A Chinese Girl Student’s View of America” Kang observed, “Among the things I most admire, American energy and self-reliance come first. I wish we all in China had more of them…Here is another great contrast between America and China. America is above all things the land of freedom for children. China is the land of filial obedience.” Kang, however, did not approve of co-education: “Even there in America…it seems to me that co-education means a certain loss to both sides. I think, perhaps, the boys lose something of the complete masculine quality, and the girls lose something of the complete feminine quality.” 47

Mary Stone/Shi Meiyu (left) and Ida Kahn/Kang Cheng (right), the first Chinese women to receive medical degrees in the United States.
Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Barbour Scholarships for Oriental Women Committee, bl003659

Shi Meiyu (Mary Stone) was born in Jiangxi in eastern China in 1873.  In China, she studied at a Methodist girls’ school and later accompanied her teacher to the United States. In 1892, she became a student in the medical department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Shi Meiyu obtained a MD degree in 1896 and interned in Chicago before returning to Jiujiang, where she established the Danforth Memorial Hospital. Her colleague, Dr. Kang Cheng (Ida Kahn), was a childhood friend who also graduated from the University of Michigan in 1896. Dr. Shi Meiyu played a major role in the development of modern medicine in China, eventually founding and superintending two hospitals. 48