Virginia Tech® home

WGD History


The Women in Development program at Virginia Tech has a long history of supporting women in developing countries, beginning in 1978.


1978: Virginia Tech receives Title XII Foreign Assistance Act grant ($500,000); this includes a commitment to include women.

1980: The WGD project begins offering courses on the role and status of women in developing countries.

1982: Virginia Tech establishes the Women in World Development Program; Mary Hill Rojas is the first Virginia Tech WGD Director. The Title XII grant was matched at 50% by the Provost’s Office and the (then-named) Office of International Development. The objectives in establishing this position included:

  • raising awareness of faculty, students, and staff about women’s lives in developing countries
  • ensuring that women are both agents and beneficiaries of Tech’s work in developing countries

1987: Mary Hill Rojas becomes president of AWID—the Association for Women and Gender in International Development (

1988: Virginia Tech WGD becomes home for AWID, serving as the secretariat for AWID until 1994

  • AWID played a vital role in providing Virginia Tech’s WGD program with national and international visibility.

1990: The Virginia Tech WGD director’s position becomes state-funded. WGD program mandates are:

  • To ensure that women’s issues are considered in all stages of project development and that women become full participants in Virginia Tech’s work in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  • To provide a forum for information exchange, research, and teaching for students, staff, and faculty in the university.