We open this issue of the YaleWomen e-newsletter with the question we asked when we opened the YaleWomen Award for Excellence celebration on March 7th.
“What is it that brought YaleWomen to this day?”
It’s our vision – Connecting Women, Igniting Ideas, Transforming the World – which emerged from our inaugural conference in 2013, when several Council members shaped what they heard into this call to action. What’s in a vision? It’s the ability to appreciate what is there and imagine what more there might be.
YaleWomen’s bold vision – along with the "why?" of our purpose and beliefs – grounds and guides us in our work toward gender equity. The opportunity to celebrate, learn from, and work with Yale womenalums who are transforming the world is both extraordinary and humbling.
This year’s Award for Excellence celebration exemplifies whyYaleWomen was founded just eight short years ago and underlines the importance of our work. YaleWomen is a community of Yalewomen alums, across Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools, across generations, across personal and professional interests, opinions and perspectives, around the world. Some of our best work is in opening the aperture and shining a light on women’s issues across these multiple dimensions.
Read on! Let us hear from you at email@example.com.
Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into a subsequent year women need to work to make what men earned in the previous year. This year, in the US, Equal Pay Day falls on April 2nd. While the day differs by year and by country, historically it has been characterized by grassroots organizing in local communities to raise awareness about how to solve wage inequality.
The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) first organized Equal Pay Day in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. The Committee was a coalition of women's and civil rights organizations, labor unions, professional associations and individuals working to eliminate sex and race-based wage discrimination and achieve pay equity.
YaleWomen is similarly committed to changing the story of pay and gender equity. Our vision: a future where parity is the norm. Our programming, events, and community building support this vision through learning about, recognizing, promoting and addressing the fight for gender equality.
On April 2nd, amazing.community, an organization dedicated to broadening the work horizon for women, will host a half-day conference, Inclusion By Design: Equal Pay Day, in New York City. The event will focus on pay equity in the workplace. Experts and policy makers will share thoughts on “Closing the Gap for Good” and “What Works.” Participants will engage in dynamic workshops on public speaking and influencing and negotiating skills to achieve wage parity.
"It's 2019 and the U.S. gender pay gap currently stands at around 20%. At this rate, it will take nearly a century for women to earn equal pay for equal work,” explains Dr. Leslie Faerstein, executive director of amazing.community. “We’re working to speed up equal pay with the goal of making Equal Pay Day obsolete in the near future – not in another 100 years!" Join in the effort to shorten the pay equity horizon – and make Equal Pay Day obsolete. Register here.
-- Amy Armitage ’86 MBA
On February 23rd at the Omni New Haven Hotel, two undergraduate organizations – the Yale College Council (YCC) and the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) – partnered to host the 11th annual WLI Conference, entitled “Women Empowering Women.” With panel events tailored to various industries such as finance, activism, medicine/healthcare, and entrepreneurship, as well as opportunities for networking, resume workshops, and LinkedIn headshots, the conference drew approximately 350 participants.
Conference co-director Sue Chen ’20 described attendees as a mix of Yale students, Yale faculty/staff, New Haven residents, and attendees from all over the tri-state area. “So much of women's empowerment and leadership relies on the ongoing conversations between like-minded people who share similar passion and dedication to the same cause,” she said, emphasizing the power of having so many women together exchanging ideas and supporting one another.
Rachel Vogelstein, director of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC, counselor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and professor of Gender and U.S. Foreign Policy at Georgetown University Law Center delivered the keynote speech. While the panel topics remained relatively similar to previous years, the 2019 committee brought in a new set of speakers from diverse backgrounds to share their ideas. Speakers this year included: Themis Klarides, Republican minority leader in the Connecticut House of Representatives; Caroline Simmons, Connecticut state representative; Tema Staig, executive director of Women in Media, and Andrea Aldrich, lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Yale.
“The more I talk with women who have accomplished amazing things in their careers and with students who are just starting out, I realize how many similar experiences in terms of sexism, confidence, and perception we have in common,” said conference co-director Avery Arena ’21. “Navigating competitive professional environments as a female is hard to do, and I think in-depth conversations like the ones at the conference really go a long way towards helping us all be better prepared to pursue our goals with confidence.”
After almost nine months of planning, the co-directors described a major challenge they faced: marketing the event to a wide variety of campus organizations to garner interest and maximize registration and attendance. “We really doubled down on publicity and marketing for the conference this year, and we tried really hard to reach as many interested groups as possible, but sometimes we just don't know if we got everyone,” said Chen
Founded in 2006, the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative has also recently modified its membership structure. Students who are interested in becoming formal WLI members must attend two functions, however most events such as the annual conference remain open to the public.
“I think it is so inspiring to see such a large group of accomplished women come together and talk about what works and what doesn't, and I think that is a great catalyst for motivating others,” said Arena. She hopes attendees left the conference feeling energized to work towards their own goals.
-- Veena McCoole ’19
How do chapters develop the events they host? Some chapter events emerge at the intersection of various “dots” – that is, alums of Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools who can bring different bodies of knowledge and experience to conversations. This is how the event YaleWomen Atlanta hosted in January, “The Opioid Epidemic: Lessons from the Field” emerged.
Tari Owi ’09, who coordinated the event, is administrator of the neurology practice for Emory University School of Medicine faculty physicians and nurse practitioners who practice at the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center. She is also program director of the Marcus Telestroke network. Owi describes the members of the YaleWomen Atlanta planning team as diverse, interesting, and curious, and said that the idea for the event emerged organically.
One alum knew Amy Baxter ’91, MD founder and CEO of Pain Care Labs. She thought that an event featuring an alum who is an innovator and entrepreneur working on the cutting edge of tackling the issue of pain management would be compelling to other alums. Coincidentally, Owi’s department at Emory, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, had recently hired Justine Welsh, MD who is a child/adolescent addiction psychiatrist and director of Emory Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Services.
Together in conversation, Drs. Baxter and Welsh offered two different perspectives on understanding and addressing the opioid crisis – an issue that is relevant and personal to many – in care-delivery settings. Of note to the audience of the nearly 30 attendees, which included alums, family, and friends:
- Georgia is among the top 10 states in the country with a growing incidence of opioid deaths.
- Most youth addiction cases begin when youth take medications from family members or are given them by friends. Many don't even know what they're taking.
- Many physicians are engaged in a comprehensive effort to standardize post-op diagnosing patterns and offer alternative pain management methods.
Owi noted that her time at Yale offered her many opportunities to grow and develop. Most important, though, it exposed her to a community of intellectually curious individuals who were interested in the world around them and how they could make their mark. YaleWomen Atlanta has offered her the same opportunities to engage with women from all walks of life who easily fall into a rapport. Many of these alums have become friends outside of YaleWomen Atlanta, providing support and career advice as well as camaraderie.
You can reach Owi and YaleWomen Atlanta by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the opioid issue through a gender lens, see Women’s Health Research at Yale's “Opioid Crisis Roadmap Overlooks Gender.” To learn more about Dr. Baxter’s work, go to A Needle Pain Awareness Booster and Pain, Empathy and Public Health. Tari earned her MSc at the Harvard School of Public Health – you can hear more about her career path and work here.
Photo: Sharon Braunstein ’82 MFA
Webinar on Career Transitions Draws Nearly 1,000 Attendees and Sparks a Conversation About How to Adapt to Unexpected Career and Life Challenges
“The lives we lead are rarely as streamlined as we thought they’d be when we graduated, or what we present to the world,” said Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88 who organized and led a January webinar on career transitions that drew nearly 1,200 registrants and nearly 1,000 attendees.
Indeed, the six panelists who joined Madar shared stories and insights far richer and dynamic: of unexpected career and life challenges, and the consequent need for self-discovery, resilience, learning, adaption, and reinvention.
A partnership between YAA’s flagship Careers, Life, and Yale program and YaleWomen, the hour-long webinar was designed to address specific career challenges such as returning to work, switching careers, and job loss. But the broader life stories proved equally illuminating.
“We worked hard to create a relevant and appealing program, with a storytelling format. But we never dreamed that 1,200 Yalies would want to join in,” said Madar, a member of the YAA Board of Governors and vice chair of YaleWomen. “And it’s exciting to know that hundreds or thousands more will be able to watch this webinar and others like it in the future.”
Opening panelist Catharine Gately ’89 traced her journey through a career in journalism, motherhood, and, then, a self-described “midlife crisis” while living in Seattle. “I had to dig deep to figure out what I was going to do next,” she explained. Now heading a company that helps businesses create narratives through storytelling, she stressed the importance of reaching out to others for help, while finding one’s own authentic story and “pushing through the fear.” She described a process of “getting comfortable with what I value, who I am, what I love to do, and what the world needs.” Often this process can begin with a strength assessment and becoming familiar with online tools to get work in the gig economy.
“It can be tremendously scary,” confirmed Katy Kincade ’85, who launched a whole new career as a costume designer after raising her children and returning to art school. “Be aware of what a life-changer kids are,” Kincade advised younger members of the audience, and “work through what you need to be happy.” She cautioned her audience that it is “really hard to make major structural changes in your life” such as a different family situation or a move to a new city. These bigger changes often require the support of others, including professional help. “But even if you are in a little rut, do what you can to get out of it.”
“Everybody told me I could have it all and do it all, and I found out I couldn’t,” acknowledged Cristina Thais Vittoria ’93, who left a successful New York magazine career to raise her children in Connecticut. Now vice president of development at Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Vittoria leveraged her community volunteer work and skills back into paid work. “When you are looking to go back, talk to people,” she advised. “Network with a passion. Tailor your resume and be flexible.” And finally, she advised, “Don’t under-estimate the skills you have developed while taking time off from paid work.”
“I never thought I would encounter the struggles,” acknowledged Wendy Maldonado D’Amico ’93, who described her journey, growing up as undocumented child, through Yale College, the Harvard Kennedy School, the MIT Sloan School of Management, jobs, and job loss. “When I got into Yale, my mother thought I won the Willy Wonka ticket.” But the wrong job, work environment, and people around you can take its toll. “A valuable lesson is learning where you don’t belong and then finding your people and the values you share with them,” she said. “Learn to play to your strengths and what you do well,” And finally, “get help when you need it if you find your mind and spirit are broken.”
Resilience and identifying one's unique strengths was a common theme among the panelists. “Nearly every profession is undergoing rapid change,” noted Amy Armitage ’86 MBA, founder of Nexus Peer Groups and a member of the YaleWomen Governing Council. “Career transitions are not just for those who are unemployed or otherwise out of work. Career transitions are the new normal.”
“You need to define success on your own terms,” said Yale SOM career coach Cindy Cornell, who explained that success looks different for each of us. “Set your intention and then live by it. Set the vision you are excited about, prioritize yourself, and keep moving.”
“That steadiness that we might have expected doesn’t exist in the world anymore,” Cornell said. “It is up to us to understand that we need to reinvent ourselves consistently as the world is reinventing itself.” We need ask, “In what ways can I be relevant today?” And as Armitage stated, “Your impact is ultimately about identifying the problems that you – uniquely – can and want to solve,” said Armitage. “To be a leader, you must act into the opportunity.”
The webinar generated quite a bit of excitement and engagement among alums, starting with a lively “in the moment” discussion that inspired the formation of several online communities, the establishment of new friendships, and the setting of new personal and professional goals. YaleWomen and YAA will also use suggestions from webinar participants to inform their programming going forward.
To view the webinar and the career transitions resource list, visit the YaleWomen website at www.yalewomen.org/yalewomen_webinars.
-- Amy Armitage ’86 MBA
Tamar Gendler is Yale’s inaugural Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) as well as the Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy and a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science. As FAS Dean, and previously as Deputy Provost for Humanities and Initiatives, Gendler has fostered opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue across the divisions of the FAS. YaleWomen had the opportunity to learn more about Dean Gendler’s leadership role as a female dean, the challenges she has faced as a parent in academia, and her vision for the future of Yale’s academics.
1. What are some personal challenges that you have faced as a woman in academia and as a woman in a position of leadership, and how have you overcome these obstacles?
My academic formation took place in a discipline where women were in the minority. I was an undergraduate at Yale majoring in mathematics and philosophy, and women in the math department were certainly in a minority. Analytical philosophy – my academic field in the humanities – also has a degree of representation akin to the sciences. In graduate school, 10% of us were women, a figure that has since improved, and now women comprise about a quarter of the department. Like anybody who doesn’t embody the expectations of a discipline, I felt I had a dual identity. On one hand, I was a philosopher and part of a discipline, but I was also aware that I didn’t look like a philosopher in the way that people expected. In many ways, this prepared me for my role as dean of FAS.
My counterparts at other leading institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton were all men, so I was used to being in a group of men. It is now the case that four out of five deans are women, so there has been a change in the representation of women in this role at universities.
There has been, in academia overall, an attentiveness to the way in which the presentation of people in leadership didn’t match the diversity of the community as a whole. Five years ago at Yale, there were more deans named Robert than deans who were women. Today, more than half of the representatives in the university cabinet are women, and this is due to President Salovey’s commitment to appointing leadership that represents the diversity of the community. My sense of our peers at other institutions is that similar efforts have been made.
2. What is your vision for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences?
One of the most exciting things for me is that Yale remains one of the few institutions that educates every single undergraduate in the liberal arts. We don’t have another way of being an undergraduate here: everyone who comes here studies within Yale College, the undergraduate segment of the FAS. Our engineering students are part of a liberal arts institution, and our English students are part of a faculty that excels in the sciences. I was trained as a philosopher in the Western tradition, which teaches that the liberal arts are deeply connected: each trains the human soul to a particular form of understanding. The opportunity to interact with departments from mechanical engineering to Near Eastern civilizations and to identify ways in which each of these disciplinary approaches uncovers some facet of the world is truly rewarding. My job is to think about what the relationship between those departments should be and what their leadership structure should look like through selecting the chairs of each department. I oversee and approve all faculty and think about the resources we should be providing to retain the people who shape this university.
3. What advice do you have for young women who are struggling with work-life balance?
I was fortunate enough to raise two children during the time I was on the tenure track, and I have a partner who is also an academic. Crucial to my being able to do that was my making it clear to the community around me that it is possible to be a scholar and a parent. I often brought my kids to campus during talks, and they would sit at the back of the room with crayons and be present in the world of the work I was involved in. Doing that set an example for some of our male faculty parents and graduate students that it is possible to be both an academic and a parent. It also let my children feel like my world of work wasn’t totally alien to them. Recognizing that people are both workers and human beings is really important in reminding society that the reason we have work is that we can do things that fulfill us outside of work.
My capacity to serve in the academic role that I do was enabled by broadband parenting that took place between my family and a neighboring family with kids of the same age. I managed to live the life I did thanks to a stay-at-home dad who was the afternoon parent to my children. It was an interesting model for those who want to engage in work-life balance: finding a communal relationship where kids can feel supported and connected makes it possible to find flexibility. Living in an incredibly tightly knit community where, across four parents, we shared responsibility, sometimes felt as if we had a large five-child, four-parent family.
4. Are there any interesting anecdotes or key learnings you could share from your time at Yale?
It continues to sometimes be the case that when I meet a student who attended Yale before the institution became co-educational, they are surprised to learn that I am the dean and my associate, a male, is an associate dean. That said, I have been impressed with the adaptability of the individuals for whom the world is changing before their eyes.
5. What has been the most surprising aspect of your position?
I’ve realized that the capacity to sustain oneself in a high-visibility and high-stress situation depends heavily upon the backstage camaraderie that comes with building a team. Erving Goffman describes backstage life and what it’s like to be a police officer or a firefighter in stressful situations but benefit from the camaraderie of the fire house. The work I do is a lot less urgent and personal than a firefighter’s, but there is the same public presentation that can be really isolating and emotionally exhausting. The possibility of coming back to a community that provides sustenance enables one to take another foray. It was so surprising to discover the deep connections that one creates in an office that, on the surface, seems engaged in a few routine matters. Because we are concerned with every decision concerning our faculty members, without the close-knit interactions we have with one another it would feel as if too many fates sat in the hands of too small a group.
When I went to elementary school, I remember wanting to be the teacher: to be the person who makes the class work for the kids and for other people. My conception of leadership has always been of enabling community. My father was a congregational rabbi and held the role of being spiritually available and transmitting the wisdom of a tradition to a community. Leaders must recognize that humans are multifaceted, and that the building of community can enable action that transcends what we can do as individuals. I took up high school roles and roles in organizations at Yale with this same vision: that my job was to create community and build an environment where what I was doing was empowering other people to be exceptional. Deanship, for me, is a continuation of that vision of leadership: being a leader is being a person who empowers others to thrive and who creates a cultural context in which people can express the most expansive features of themselves as thinkers, teachers and mentors.
-- Veena McCoole ’19
Joanne Lipman ’83 Moderates Panel Discussion on Working Toward Gender Equity with Anita Hill, ’80 JD, Catherine Lhamon ’96 JD, and Ann Olivarius ’77, ’86 MBA, ’86 JD
Below is an edited version of the panel discussion.
JL: How did you become a leader in the fight for gender equality and what role, if any, did Yale play in that?
AO: It’s not one moment that makes you a feminist, it’s a whole series of things that happen. For me, I gradually started to see things through a different lens. When I got to Yale, I started to ask is there a caste system? Is there sexual apartheid? I saw that a lot of women were having sex with professors, and consent wasn’t even in the parlance at the time. I wanted a central database for sexual offenses, and I thought that Yale would want to know how bad this problem was. Yale said no and forced us to file the suit. Alexander v. Yale became the landmark case that recognized for the first time that universities had an obligation to protect students from sexual harassment.
AH: It is true, it is not just one thing that happens. For me, I never even thought I wasn’t interested in gender equity. I grew up in rural Oklahoma and my mother had thirteen children. My mother told me at an early age, “I don't ever want you to ask a man for your livelihood.”
If you want to claim your own personal freedom and your own self-sufficiency, you will deal with gender issues. I also had to deal with race. I came to understand that in order to be truly equal and free, I had to deal with both race and gender inequalities. Then, there is my personal story. When I found out I got into Yale, everyone was very happy and at that time, a neighbor said to me, “You are going to do great things for women.” I could not tell whether that was a prediction or command, but it didn’t matter because I was moving into doing things for women. There were a lot of opportunities that came about that I took advantage of, it just came naturally because as a woman who wanted to live independently and self-sufficiently, I had to be paying attention to these issues. Issues of both race and gender inequality can be integrated and must be integrated and that was the trajectory of how I got to where I am now.
It has led me away from teaching just in a law school and led me to Brandeis, which is a policy school, and it has also led me to my work with the Hollywood Commission to bring gender equity to the workplaces in the entertainment industry. I feel fortunate to have been able to move through the world in the way that I have and landed where I am.
We are working with not only what is happening on screen but also with workers who work in the industry. Every individual in the industry deserves a safe place to work and a chance to showcase their skills without bias.
CL: I grew up with civil rights activists as parents. Coming to Yale was eye-opening. It was shocking to me that my professors were so supportive and so driven in social justice work... my professors were prepared to mold us in that tradition of working towards gender equity. I started my time in law school after watching [the Anita Hill hearings], and, [Anita,] you spoke what I knew to be true because of how you presented it. You gave me a path in the arguments you crafted that would change our world. I had the benefit of learning from [both of you], from professors who were prepared to mold all of us in that form of leadership, and I had the luxury of Yale which as the law school of “yes” – Yale gave me those tools and taught me how to do it.
JL: It’s been more than a year and half since the ‘me too’ movement. What is your point of view on how far have we come in the wake of the ‘me too’ movement?
AO: We have to get the laws changed to extend the statute of limitations because in so many cases there is very little I can do as a lawyer because of the statute of limitations. We also have to find our voices because I’m finding that even though a lot of women are coming forward about sexual assault and giving their names, they are not naming who did it, so there is still no accountability. That has to change. We are just getting started.
JL: Anita, you spoke out during the Kavanaugh hearings. Tell us about how that transpired and where we are now.
AH: What troubles me about the Kavanaugh hearings is that the people in power are more concerned about maintaining power than getting to the truth. Those kinds of experiences are happening in almost every setting in corporate America as well as in colleges and universities. It was only in 2014 that universities really became accountable and started to put processes in place [to prevent situations that] had prevented women and men from coming forward for years.
Processes are important in politics or education or the workplace. It’s not just the bad behavior, . . . it’s the processes that maintain and protect the bad behavior. If we don’t look at those systematically and unravel the system that has protected powerful men who have engaged in gender violence, we will pass it along to another generation. We can’t afford it. It is a crisis, [but gender violence] has never been recognized as [a crisis] by the government.
The Kavanaugh hearings, to me, were about exposing not only how badly the Senate made decisions in 1991, they were about showing that the same individuals are still in power and making the same decisions.
We know that men must be making these decisions because they have the power to do so. We should think about different ways to bring men into the conversation.
Men have to talk about their experiences with sexual abuse, too. We can’t make it a woman issue because it will become sexualized. We have to understand the power dynamic, but it’s not about sex, it’s about the ability to use sex to minimize people and abuse people.
JL: What is the path forward? How can we make things better?
AO: The women who come forward go off and do great things. So, we need your voices. Yale has some of the finest women go through its doors – go forth, don’t be fearful. Speak up. Now, more than ever, we need your voices. The world is out there to be conquered, and you in this room can make it so.
CL: Seizing the moment is so worthwhile. I have been stunned by how much of a difference even small acts can make. In just three years, we have changed the landscape within universities.
AH: I’m going to push back on the idea of retaliation. It is real. It is real in the workplace for those who are more vulnerable. The best way to respond is to think about how to protect the more vulnerable people and how to create the kind of environment where if someone speaks up, we are willing to support that person. You need to speak up for yourself and for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
To have gender equity, we have to understand gender equity involves a whole lot of nuances. We know that it’s not just two genders. We now acknowledge that race matters, that sexual identity matters. If we are going to understand gender equity in its fullest, we must educate ourselves about those differences and how those differences matter and how the world perceives those differences. We don't have to all be the same, we just have to believe in human dignity.
I invite us to think openly, think boldly, think radically about equality.
YaleWomen Global Newsletter | December 2018
- Letter From The Chair
- Support YaleWomen: You Can Help YaleWomen Build Its Vision Where Parity Is the Norm
- YaleWomen Wins YAA Excellence Award for Outstanding Engagement and Leadership
- Three YaleWomen Alums Receive Yale Medal
- YaleWomen Boston Brings Women and Men Together in Conversation about Women in Science, Physics, and Blackholes
- Kavanaugh Hearings Prompt Apology Decades Later
- Women Break Records in the 2018 Mid-Term Elections
- Save the Date: Career Transitions Webinar on January 15, 2019
- Save the Date: YaleWomen Award for Excellence at the National Press Club in DC on March 7, 2019
- Join the YaleWomen Council: Applications Due March 15, 2019
"Open the aperture to better illuminate issues." This is how one founding member of the YaleWomen Council captures the import of YaleWomen’s work and why it matters. It’s an apt metaphor for why we do what we do. As this calendar year comes to a close, we reflect on how YaleWomen has grown from the "big idea" of possibilities that was envisioned in 2011 to the tangible realities that "open the aperture," including this very e-newsletter and the stories it tells in every issue. Looking over the horizon into 2019, we know that our best work is always ahead, especially as we work toward the January 15th webinar that will focus on career transitions, the March 7th Award for Excellence event that will celebrate Yale women alums with Lifetime Achievement and Impact awards, and the events that chapters will host through 2020 in celebration of 50 Women at Yale 150.Continually raising the bar on our own expectations of the work we do is one of the most remarkable and rewarding aspects of engaging with YaleWomen. (Consider joining the Council!) We also reflect on the fact that none of this would be possible without you – we are grateful for your support! As always, we would be glad to hear from you at email@example.com.
In the spirit, hope, and peace of the season, YaleWomen sends best wishes for all good things in 2019.
Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM