Six graduating women will receive cash awards totaling $46,500 from the now-defunct Santa Barbara City Club, whose members established the program 31 years ago to reward top female graduates from UCSB for “a job well done.”

The City Club Prize, believed to be one of the top cash awards for graduating seniors in the nation, is divided annually among the highest academically achieving women majoring in a social science. A computer identifies the women with the top six grade-point averages, who are then notified by mail about the checks that they will receive. The amount of each award is based on the ranking of the students by grade-point average.

The prizes generally come as a surprise to the recipients, who may spend the money in any way they wish.

The six 2011 winners, their hometowns, academic majors and prize amounts are:

» Rebecca Fortune, Del Rey Oaks, political science — $9,000

» Kyra Gates, Irvine, global studies — $8,500

» Hayley Ryan, La Canada, business economics — $8,000

» Erin Daly, Milpitas, feminist studies — $7,500

» Karen Dicks, Thousand Oaks, sociology and communication — $7,000

» Kiley Widelitz, Los Angeles, political science —$6,500

The Santa Barbara City Club was established in the 1920s by a group of women who were interested in the political process. The club disbanded in 1978, sold its property and donated the proceeds to UCSB with the stipulation that income from the gift be used “to reward the achievements of women who best exemplify the ideals of the club.”