Margaret Cheney Room Information
The Margaret Cheney Room was founded in 1884 in recognition of the importance of providing a space dedicated to women’s needs, especially in the context of the STEM fields. In light of its founding mission, the Cheney Room exists to promote community and empower all students at MIT who experience gender-based systems of oppression as it relates to being a woman, the experiences of womanhood, and/or the complexities of gender diversity. Gender is nuanced and complex in ways that extend far beyond the original understanding of the 1880s. WXGS welcomes you wholly as you art and encourages you to be your authentic self with us and with others who use the Cheney Room.
Women have been an important part of the Institute since Ellen Swallow Richards `73, the first MIT woman student, graduated in 1873. Marie C. Turner was the first Black woman to attend MIT in 1905. Ellen Swallow Richards secured the funds for a woman's laboratory (1875) devoted to exclusively instructing women in chemistry (that location is now the location of Walker Memorial). Richards petitioned strongly for a women's space to continue to be on campus. Thus in 1884 Ellen Swallow Richards and Ednah Dow Cheney raised funds to help establish a space for women on MIT's campus. This space was named Margaret Cheney `82 after Ednah Dow Cheney's daughter. Learn more about the history of women at MIT and the evolution of the Cheney Room by clicking through the interactive timeline created by the Association of MIT Alumnae (AMITA).
MIT admissions has recently started collecting data beyond the gender binary for incoming students. For the MIT first-year class of 2027, 48% of students identified as women, 4% identified as another gender identity. As MIT evolves and demographics change we can hope that timelines can also show and acknowledge the contributions of achieves of our gender diverse and non-binary alum.
Use of the Margaret Cheney Room
The Margaret Cheney Room is not open to the public, but students may request tap access to freely use the space by filling our the WXGS - Cheney Room Tap Access form. All applicants will be added in batches to help manage with the volume of applicants that get manually added to the door tap system. This space is open 24/7 and students may hang out here, study, chat, attend programs, and more.
Students and student groups who use the Cheney Room may reserve spaces for private events, programs, hangouts, studying and more. It is recommended students fill out the form at least a week in advance so there's enough time for the WXGS staff to approve the reservation and send out a confirmation email with instructions.
The Multipurpose Room
Capacity: 32 for tables and chairs; 50 for lecture style seating
Features: Smart TV, couches, piano, rolling tables and chairs
Location: Main space in Cheney Room next to kitchen and WXGS office
Student Conference Room
Features: Smart TV, whiteboard, conference table, rolling chairs
Location: Inside the Lounge Suite next to the lactation/quiet room