La Residencia de Señoritas was established in 1915 under the direction of María de Maeztu. This institution was a pioneer in promoting women's access to higher education. It was instrumental in developing cooperation with the International Institute for Girls in Spain, a U.S. organization created with similar objectives that settled in Madrid at the beginning of the 20th century.
Victoria Kent, Matilde Huici and Josefina Carabias were among its residents, and Maria Goyri, María Zambrano and Maruja Mallo were members the teaching staff, that also included American teachers linked to the International Institute. Their activities included lectures with speakers such as Gabriela Mistral, Victoria Ocampo, María Martínez Sierra, and Clara Campoamor, and frequently addressed issues related to women. The Lyceum Club Femenino and the Association of University Women were born at the Residencia. There was also a chemistry laboratory, organized by the American Dr. Mary Louise Foster, who contributed to the training of outstanding scientists, such Dorotea Barnés and Felisa Martín Bravo.
The Residencia de Señorita's birth is closely related to the changes in women's social status in Spain, which translated in a better access to education and work, and improvements in the legal discriminations they suffered, of which the most symbolic was the extension of women's suffrage in 1931.