Can you explain why Kimball Hall only has shower facilities for men?

Date: September 2017


Hello Deans,

I work in a building (Kimball Hall) that is part of three buildings conjoined and there is no shower for women in any of these buildings. However there is a shower for men in the bottom on my building. Could you explain the university’s reasoning on not having this shower/bathroom unisex? I don’t think women being a small minority in my department justifies making us walk a couple buildings over to shower. Especially considering the bathroom/shower that is available for women is already unisex, why can’t the one in my building be unisex too?


Grad Woman in Engineering


Dear Grad Woman in Engineering:

Thanks you for your Ask a Dean question about the shower in Kimball. I consulted with the facilities director in the College of Engineering who is responsible for Kimball Hall. 

The facilities director observed that very few academic buildings across campus offer shower amenities. In Engineering, of the 13 COE buildings on the engineering quad, only 4 have shower facilities. In total there are 6 showers in Engineering buildings, of which 5 are gender-neutral. These are located in several of Engineering’s newer (or newly renovated) buildings, including Duffield (2 gender-neutral), Upson (1 gender-neutral), Rhodes (2 gender-neutral), and Kimball (1 men’s). 

Most people working in the College of Engineering who wish to shower during the work day have to walk to another building to find a shower. The shower in question is the only gender-specific shower, as it is a remnant of older design principles, and a complicating factor is that it is accessed through the men’s restroom. In responding to my question on your behalf, the facilities director included a floor plan map of Kimball Hall which I won’t include here. According to the floor plan, the shower is accessible only through the men’s restroom with no corridor access.

The facilities director indicated that the College of Engineering is addressing gender equity in facilities in conjunction with renovation projects. She indicated that this summer with approval from the local code enforcement officer, Engineering converted two men’s restrooms into two women’s restrooms and made aesthetic improvements to the spaces as well. The College will continue to address these issues in future renovations, in their master plan projects, and as issues arise that are feasible to address. She appreciated the issue being brought to their attention and indicated that if they undertake a Kimball Hall renovation near that men’s restroom they will examine ways to address gender equity with the shower facilities.

Thanks again for raising this question. I was pleased that the College of Engineering will consider this in future renovation efforts as possible.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School