Our YaleWomen Zoom Get-Togethers started at the end of March, as the shutdown tightened its grip all over the world. The first round of sessions, held Sunday and Wednesday evenings April 1 through May 3, attracted an enthusiastic following of alums. In fact, they’ve proved so popular that we’ve recently started a second round for June and July. Hosted by Lisa Fabish, SOM ’99, they’re scheduled for:
- Every other Wednesday starting June 3rd at 4:30 pm Pacific, through July 29th
- Every other Wednesday starting June 10th at 10:30 am Pacific, through July 22nd
Register here to attend upcoming sessions: https://www.yalewomen.org/calendar.
The time, talent, and commitment of many alums make the increasingly important work of YaleWomen possible. As the 2019-2020 year draws to a close, we are especially grateful to Council members whose terms of service come to an end. They leave with our heartfelt thanks and best wishes.
Ursula Burton ’88
Jennifer DeVore ’87
Chelsea Doub ’14 MPH
Shannon Foucault ’06
Susan Lennon ’85 MPPM
Carol Reis Whitehead ’72
As YaleWomen’s visibility and reputation have grown, so, too, has interest in serving on the Council. This year, we had a deep pool of talent to draw on. We are thrilled to announce the results of this year’s election for Council members and officers, for terms that will begin July 1st (* indicates current Council members who have been re-elected for successor terms).
Amy Armitage ’86 MBA*
Seyma Aslan ’10 PhD*
Anne Boucher ’80*
Jessica Demmo Drbul ’96
Emily Friedrichs ’07
Heidi Fung ’03
Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88*
Jane Fincke Orenstein ’78
Sue Pepin ’87*
Claudia Rosenthal ’08, ’14 MMus
Lisa Beth Friedman Savitz ’88*
Lydia Temoshok ’72*
Brenda Ventura ’16 MBA
Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88, Sue Pepin ’87, Lauren Graham ’13 MEM and Dana Allen Sands ’83 have been elected to serve as chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer, respectively.
This year has been a challenging one for many, if not most, of us. From the devastating and ongoing loss of life, economic turmoil, and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, to the worldwide uproar over systemic racial injustice, 2020 has most definitely not been the year that any of us hoped or thought it would be. It is hard to believe that 2020 - which is less than half over - started with the Australian wildfires, which already seem to be such a distant memory; so much has happened since then. And who knows what the rest of the year will bring? Much better, we hope.
Through it all, YaleWomen has been there for the Yale women alum community.
- We have hosted a well-received Climate Emergency: Practical Actions, Equitable Solutions webinar.
- We have co-sponsored a range of webinars on a variety of topics: Women, Men, and Food; Navigating and Thriving in Remote Work Environments; Career Transitions II - How Yale Alumni Successfully Navigated Professional Change; Food Fight: How the Restaurant and Catering Industry is Pivoting to Survive in a COVID-19 World; and Bienvenida Salud: Sustainable Change for Indigenous Women and Their Communities.
- We have launched a series of informal Zoom get-togethers to enable women alums throughout the United States and world to discuss whatever happens to be on their minds, sometimes confronting the issues of the day, sometimes providing a respite from them.
- We have launched the YaleWomen Cross Campus group, providing another way for women alums to connect.
- And we have supported the 50WomenAtYale150 celebration of the 50th anniversary of undergraduate co-education and 150th anniversary of gradual and professional school co-education at Yale.
And we will do even more in the upcoming year.
- We will continue to host or co-sponsor webinars on topics of particular interest to women alums.
- We will continue to host informal Zoom get-togethers and work towards building a truly dynamic virtual community for alums who can’t attend chapter events (whenever we can again host chapter events).
- We will continue to build our online capabilities, including our social media infrastructure, to give women alums more ways to connect with us and one another, whether it be via our website, Cross Campus, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
- And, perhaps most excitingly and most importantly, we will build on the solid foundation of YaleWomen’s original 2011 strategic plan with a new plan that reflects the interests and needs of today’s YaleWomen community. We will incorporate the results of the survey we conducted in September 2019, as well as additional input that we will seek in the coming months, into our new strategic plan. Our goal? An even more engaging, interactive, and relevant YaleWomen, sustainable through the rest of this decade and well into the future.
We have been fortunate to have the support of so many women alums to bring YaleWomen to the point where it is now. And we hope that we will have the support of even more women alums to move YaleWomen into the future. We realize that this is a difficult time for many; if you aren’t in a position to contribute to our fiscal-year-end fundraiser, we understand, and we will continue to be there for you. But if you can contribute, we would be so very grateful. YaleWomen receives no financial support from the University; rather, we rely on contributions from alums to support the work we do, and to advance the work we aspire to do. YaleWomen is truly at an inflection point, and we hope, with your support, to emerge stronger than ever.
Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar, B.A. 1988, Chair
Susan Pepin, B.A. 1987, Vice Chair
Susan Lennon, M.P.P.M. 1985, Secretary and Immediate Past Chair
Dana Allen Sands, B.A. 1983, Treasurer
A visually impressive and remarkably informative virtual campus tour, highlighting the contributions of three centuries of women’s accomplishments at Yale, is au courant with both the current emphasis on nearly everything needing to be virtual in response to COVID-19 public safety recommendations, and with 2019-20 commemorating 50 Women at Yale 150 (50WAY150, now also going virtual). What makes this Women at Yale Virtual Tour particularly prescient is that its website was inaugurated ten years ago, in 2010, featuring a downloadable audio tour and full-color, illustrated brochure with a walking tour and map. This interactive multimedia resource was a gift to the Yale Women Faculty Forum (WFF) from Nancy Alexander ’79, ’84 MBA, and Phillip Bernstein ’79, ’83 M.Arch., co-sponsored by the Yale Visitor Center and the Office of the Secretary.
There are 49 notable spaces, places, and artworks, with historical commentary, of which this writer’s personal favorites include: the quietly moving “Women’s Table” sculpture by Maya Lin ’81, ’86 M.Arch.; Yale Women’s Center (basement, Durfee Hall), home to a number (6 to 25) of women’s groups in residence, and instrumental in making sexual harassment on campus more visible, a legacy initiated in 1977 by then-undergraduate Ann Olivarius ’77, ’86 JD, ’86 MBA; the site of the Yale crew team’s Title IX protests for equality in athletic facilities in 1976, portraits of Yale first women PhDs; and especially appropriate in these multi-challenging times, the Rose Center, conceived by Deborah Rose ’72, ’77 MPH, ’89 PhD, and dedicated in 2006, which incorporates a community component—the Dixwell-Yale University Community Learning Center, into a state-of-the-art Yale Police Department.
— Dr. Lydia Temoshok ’72
YaleWomen Global Newsletter | Spring 2020
- Accelerate Yale Hosts Navigating and Thriving in Remote Work Environments Webinar, Co-Sponsored by YaleWomen. Click Here to View.
Food Fight: How the Restaurant and Catering Industry is Pivoting to Survive in a COVID-19 World
Time: 8 pm EDT
Bienvenida Salud: Sustainable Change for Indigenous Women and their Communities
For over thirty years, Minga Peru has been supporting and strengthening communities in the Loreto region of Peru with an innovative program based on communications through radio and grassroots leadership development for women. This webinar explored a bit about Peru, the Kukama people who live in the Loreto region, and the programs that have made Minga Peru a model for programs throughout Central and South America. The webinar also talked about why the Yale Alumni Service Corps is partnering with Minga Peru on a program in the summer of 2021, YASC Along the Maranon.
This webinar was presented in partnership with Yale Alumni Service Corps, Yale Alumni Shared Interest Groups, Yale Day of Service, Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance, and YaleWomen.
Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Time: 7 pm EDT
We're continuing to host our "Connecting While Social Distancing" Zoom get-togethers while we work on "scaling" this initiative and ramping up our use of social media to help women alums connect!
Date: Every Sunday and Wednesday through May 3, 2020
Time: 7 pm EDT
Register: here (You'll receive an email with the login info after you RSVP.)
YaleWomen Connecticut Goes Behind the Scenes: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment
On a snowy Saturday in January, a group of Yale women alums gathered for a potluck lunch and lively conversation followed by a private viewing of primary source materials slated for display in an upcoming exhibit at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, “The Fight for Women’s Suffrage in Connecticut.”Read more
Anne Gardiner Perkins ’81, is the author of Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant (Sourcebooks, 2019). At Yale, she was elected the first woman editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News and won the Porter Prize in history. She is a Rhodes scholar and holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s in public administration from Harvard. Yale Needs Women, her first book, grew out of her doctoral dissertation on the same subject
Q: What drew you to the topic of the first women at Yale—first, for your dissertation, and later, for this book?
I had been working at the time as the Associate Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and I had gone back to get my doctorate. I took a required history course, and I said, “well, I’m just going to write my final paper on the first women at Yale, because it’s embarrassing that I know nothing about them.”
And so, I started researching the paper. And I was just shocked that the histories that had been written to date relied almost exclusively on male voices. Once I started interviewing these first women, they were so remarkable and so inspiring that I just felt like it would be a crime if their story wasn’t told.
Q: Did your research change how you think about Yale? Were there any revelations?
I had always had this fuzzy idea that Yale admitting women had something to do with the women’s movement, an acknowledgement that women should have the same opportunities as men. Then I find that--at least among top administration officials and trustees--Yale’s decision to admit women had much more to do with attracting the top men, who wanted to go to a school with women on campus, than it did with treating women equally. And that really shocked me.
Plus, I hadn’t realized there was such a strict quota system. That first year, only 13% of the undergraduate class was women. That was jaw-dropping.
Q: As you think about what these women accomplished in these first years, what stands out?
I was blown away by how much these first women accomplished, and how many institutional practices they challenged—from activism around pushing Yale to end its quota system, to bringing in women’s studies courses, to starting women’s singing groups and athletic teams, to hosting women’s liberation conferences and sponsoring on-campus women’s rights groups.
They became leaders and helped Yale become a leader. The woman studies courses they snuck in as college seminars were among the earliest such courses in the country. Female graduate students coined the term ‘sexual harassment’ in 1972. They were on the cutting edge of the women’s movement, which should be acknowledged and celebrated.
Q: You were Class of ’81. What was the difference between your experience and that of first-wave women?
By the time I got to Yale, the percentage of women students was approaching 40%. We were no longer an extreme minority. The first year, women comprised only 13%. This meant they were always in the spotlight, “never allowed to screw up” as one woman put it. But on the other hand, they were also invisible and kept out of so many things.
During my time, women were moving into the positions of leadership. We had the first female head of the Yale marching band. The first woman head of the Yale Political Union. Where women might have been included in these groups only in the margins, they were now leading them.
Q: Thinking about the time period since the first women were admitted, where has Yale made progress? And where does it need to improve?
Yale has made progress in terms of the composition of its student body. That’s a remarkable change over 50 years. Now women are at equal standing in terms of admissions. And it’s wonderful to see the plethora of student organizations that support women, and that women run.
There needs to be a commitment at the top levels of Yale leadership to diversify leadership in the top levels of its faculty and its administration. Yale’s tenured faculty is still just 27 percent women.* That’s too low. Furthermore, the presidency has never been held by a woman. I think it’s symbolically important to acknowledge that a woman is equally qualified to be president of Yale as a man.
And finally, as at campuses across the country, for many Yale women the cost of attaining a college degree includes sexual harassment or assault. That’s not acceptable.
Q: Last word: how do you sum up your perspectives on first-wave women?
I feel incredible admiration for them. At the same time, I feel sad that they had to experience some of what they experienced. For instance, I get emails from them saying, “I hadn’t realized that other women were lonely, too.” As the mother of a daughter, it’s painful to hear that these young women were so lonely. But they still graduated at the same rate as men, and did better academically than men, and found ways to succeed in a very challenging environment. So I have nothing but admiration for them.
I love talking to younger women about this, because they are invariably inspired by it. These stories remind them of how powerful that women their age can be. Those first women students walked into Yale College, an institution that had been a bastion of maleness for 268 years, and made their mark on it.
*Editor’s note: Read the Yale Women Faculty Forum’s annual report (https://wff.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Annual%20Report%202018-2019.pdf) for more statistics about the current status of women at Yale.
— Laura Teller ’77 is on the YaleWomen Governing Council