1950s: Leading the Way for Women in Business



In the 1950s, when Diane Lindwall, BBA ’56, first stepped into the Michigan Business School, her immediate reaction was one of shock and surprise. “My first two years were in a women’s college and then I transferred to Michigan,” Lindwall says today. “It was a little frightening because I think (at Michigan) there were maybe 25 women and 1,200 men - so it was a little intimidating. But you got used to that.” That wasn’t the only thing that took a little getting used to: “I was used to smart women, but I was surprised by how smart the men were!”

Despite the surprises, Lindwall excelled at Michigan, co-founding the first-ever women’s business fraternity on campus, Phi Chi Theta, which still exists today and has since become coed.

Moving to Atlanta and then New York, Lindwall started a career in technology, working with AT&T programming their new IBM 705 Data Processing System, a computer operated by magnetic tape. “I was a computer programmer in 1957,” she says. “I was lucky enough to be a part of AT&T’s first Women’s Management Training program. There were only five of us.”

These days, Lindwall, who retired in 1994, continues her efforts to advocate for women in business. She serves on the board of the California Federation of Women's Clubs and is an active member of her local women’s club, where she’s involved in the allocation of scholarships to young women in high schools throughout the state. “That has helped keep me young,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed my time with them immensely."

Hear more of Diane's story