Side by Side: Two Different Aspects of Women at Yale


On March 1st, YaleWomen Connecticut met at Sterling Memorial Library for a tour of the student-curated exhibit, conducted by the two seniors whose research is showcased. Their projects both pertain to the history of women at Yale.  Mariana Melin-Corcoran ’20, looked into women at the School of Architecture, while Valentina Connell ’20, focused on housing policy and residential life from 1969 to the present.

Melin-Corcoran, an Architecture major, featured two early female Architecture students: Estelle Margolis ’55 (deceased) and Leona Nalle ’56.  The day of the visit happened to be the first anniversary of Margolis’s death.  Nalle was able to join the group for the event.  She said that to be at Yale in the 50s seemed “perfectly normal,” not history-making, remembering the "wonderful" boys who were her classmates as “my brothers.”  There were three women in her year, when she arrived in 1951, although a couple years earlier there had been only one.  Melin-Corcoran says that this year in her undergraduate major women outnumber men.  Her portion of the exhibit concluded with Maya Lin’s Women’s Table.


(Sketch of Maya Lin's Women's Table; In photo, from left to right: Valentina Connell ’20 and Mariana Melin-Corcoran ’20)

Connell, recognizing how integral on-campus housing is to the community of Yale College, chose to examine this component of the co-education process.  Her display began with the parietal rules of the 1950s and 60s, when the debate over their potential abolition merged with the question of whether to allow women in the dorms as students and not merely guests.  The admission of Yale’s first female undergraduates resulted in dorm overcrowding, as the school was unwilling to reduce the male population.  The outnumbered women were alternately segregated together or isolated among the men, depending on the year and residential college.  Housing policy continued to change over the next fifty years, with mixed-gender suites codified college-wide only in 2011, and bedrooms in 2017.  Discussions in the 2010s were more about the hegemony of housing by binary gender based on heteronormative assumptions, and less about the necessity of installing mirrors for female first years in Vanderbilt.

(YaleWomen Connecticut attendees)



Lisa Beth “LB” Friedman Savitz ’88 is on the YaleWomen Governing Council, is a Delegate At-Large to the YAA Assembly, and is on the YAA of Greenwich Board of Directors, of which she is a past president, among other Yale volunteer roles.  Photo credits: LB Savitz.



What It Means to be a Woman Leader Today

On Sunday, February 23rd, hundreds of participants and speakers gathered at the Omni Hotel in New Haven for the 12th Annual Women’s Empowerment Leadership Conference hosted by the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Yale (WLI). This tradition comes during a special time in Yale’s history.

This year marks the 50th year of coeducation at Yale College and the 150th anniversary of female students at Yale University. From a time when admitting female students was discussed as an obstacle to the opportunities for men, a conference room full of inspiring professionals and students stood in stark contrast to what had been not so long ago. More than 200 participants from the tri-state area gathered in New Haven in a discussion that focused on the  issues facing women in today’s workplace.  There were nine panels with nearly forty speakers representing government, activism, media, entrepreneurship, finance, medicine, and more. The conference also provided opportunities for networking and professional LinkedIn headshots.

This year’s panelists were joined by two high profile keynote addresses. Susan Salgado is a consultant and speaker whose expertise lies at the intersection of organizational culture and customer experience. She is a contributor for Inc. Magazine and has been named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. Patti Solis Doyle is a partner at the Brunswick Group and advises clients on intersectional issues within business, politics, and society. She is a CNN political commentator and has more than twenty  years of work in public service and politics, including serving as the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton from January 2007 to February 2008, the first Hispanic woman to lead a presidential campaign. The conference concluded with an address by Amy Jin, a leadership coach and co-creator of Straighten Your Crown podcast. 

The Women’s Empowerment Leadership Conference is entirely student  organized and run. This year, it was led  by co-directors Angela Lin ’20 and Oasis Zhen ’21. Joining them was a committee of 13 students who organized panels, moderated the discussions, and helped with the many logistical challenges associated with a conference of this size. Leaving this year’s conference, there was a tremendous amount of momentum for the future. “The mission of the conference is one that is always relevant and current, and such is reflected through many third-time participants who continue to find meaning and encouragement, and for us organizers, this is exactly what motivates us to keep going,” said Zhen. Lin added, “I think one of the most rewarding experiences in regards to this conference is witnessing how much people care about this event, and how much they are willing to invest in it.” Some of the participants come back year and year again, and this event has truly turned into the flagship event of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Yale.

WLI  was founded fourteen years ago by five undergraduate women. Since then the scope and influence of the organization have only grown. This year, over 40 undergraduate students have taken part as active organizers and content producers. They have produced and hosted   professional development workshops, recruiting events, socials, a gala, a mentorship program and a speaker series.  Avery Arena ’21, president of WLI, explained the significance of having a group like WLI on campus: “Even as we are seeing so many important advances being made by women across the world, it is becoming ever important to recognize the history of how we got where we are today and develop a vision for where we want to be in the future. WLI and this conference are an important part of bringing education about the importance of these topics to campus and beyond, and I can’t wait to see how these conversations will continue as we go forward with the planning for future events.” WLI members are already beginning the planning process for next year’s Women’s Empowerment Leadership Conference-- follow them on Facebook ( to get notified when tickets go on sale! See the conference program book here

Avery Arena ’21, President; Angela Lin ’20, Conference co-director; and Oasis Zhen ’21 Conference co-director

In Conversation with Nancy Marx Better ’84, 2019 Recipient of the Yale Medal

(Image courtesy of YAA)

On November 21st, Yale President Peter Salovey ’86 PhD and Yale Alumni Association (YAA) Chair Nancy Stratford ’77 presented the 2019 Yale Medal, YAA’s highest honor, to five recipients during a ceremony in the Lanman Center of Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The first to receive her Medal was Nancy Marx Better ’84. Lisa Beth "LB" Friedman Savitz ’88 sat down with Nancy on October 31st to discuss this honor as well as her long service to Yale and to education in their shared community of Greenwich, CT.

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In Conversation with Caroline H. Van ’79, 2019 Recipient of the Yale Medal


Image courtesy of YAA

Recently, YaleWomen Council Member Akosua Barthwell Evans ’90 JD interviewed Caroline H. Van ’79 — whom she met several years ago when she was a delegate to the Yale Alumni Association (YAA) Assembly and Ms. Van was an officer of the YAA Board of Governors — about her entire “Yale life cycle.” 

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From Privilege to Activism: Sophie Ascheim ’22 Wins Oscar and Fights for Menstrual Equity

Can you change the world in 26 minutes? Sophie Ascheim ’22 did just that, by co-executive producing an Oscar-winning film: “Period. End of Sentence.” This short documentary, less than a half-hour in length, has nevertheless brought global attention to menstrual inequity – the inaccessibility of clean menstrual supplies for many women and girls. The film’s message, though, is one of hope and empowerment. As women in a poor Indian village use a machine to make clean menstrual pads, which they then sell, they decrease the stigma around menstruation and increase their opportunities for income, education, and greater participation in family and civic life.



Above: Sophie Ascheim ’22 talks about her activism with Joellyn Gray ’81 MBA at a YaleWomen Connecticut event in November. After viewing Sophie’s Oscar-winning documentary, “Period. End of Sentence,” and participating in a Q&A with her, attendees packed kits of menstrual supplies that were donated to a New Haven agency. The event was co-sponsored by 1stGenYale, the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance (YANA) New England chapter, the Yale School of Nursing Alumni Association, and the Yale School of Public Health Alumni Association.

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Support the Yale College Council (YCC) Womxn's Stipend Program!

Throughout the history of Yale College Council, womxn in government have been combatting challenges that disproportionately affect women and gender minorities. For example, it was womxn who were responsible for the installment of a sexual wellness machine in Bass Library as well as for ensuring the accessibility of the LiveSafe app, which offers resources to sexual misconduct victims. 

However, low-income students, particularly those who seek to serve at the highest echelons of student government, often come up against financial barriers that can strongly inhibit their ability to pursue leadership opportunities and fully meet their YCC responsibilities. In order to make YCC a more accessible space, we hope to implement a stipend program to support students while they serve on YCC. 

If you would like to support this stipend program and make YCC a more powerful incubator for student leaders, please email the Womxn's Affinity Network chair, Aliesa Bahri ’22, at Thank you so much for your consideration!

A Call for Stories from Women’s Leadership Initiative at Yale (YWLI)



In recognition of 50 years of coeducation at Yale College and 150 years of coeducation at Yale University, the Women's Leadership Initiative at Yale (YWLI) will be publishing a book of stories from alumni and current students. YWLI is seeking to collect pitches from as many people as possible in order to make the book representative of the many students who have come through Yale in the last 50 years. Pitches can be submitted for consideration through the link below until January 15th; YWLI will notify submitters by January 25th if their pitch has been chosen. Please direct any questions or concerns to Please share this link widely!


“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Among the abundance of riches on the 50WomenAtYale150 website are images from the 50th anniversary Commemorative Weekend that was held on campus September 19-22, 2019. Be sure to check the calendar for new events that have been posted, Projects to Preserve Our History, and videos as well as the History of Women at Yale.

Mark your calendars for the 50WomenAtYale150 Celebration Weekend, November 6-7, 2020. More information to follow!