Yale women alums in Connecticut love to hear from other Yale women alums! One of YaleWomen Connecticut’s signature events is the Museum Trail. During the past few years, we have visited 10 museums around the state. These are exclusive tours, led by Yale women alums. They offer unexpected, unusual, and rich insights into the exhibits. I am a regular at these events not only because of the opportunity to go to museums I might not otherwise visit, but also because of the opportunity to meet and talk with Yale College and Graduate & Professional School alums I probably would not otherwise meet and get to know.
Yale College alum Elysa Engelman, PhD (’94 Berkeley), Director of Exhibits at Mystic Seaport: the Museum of America and the Sea is transforming the learning experience for Seaport visitors. This past July, Elysa took a group of alums, family, and friends on a journey of interpretation as she juxtaposed two very different exhibits. SeaChange, which is housed in a new showpiece building with dramatic architecture and natural materials (designed by Centerbrook Architects and Planners, the architectural firm that also designed Kroon Hall at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies), creatively speaks to the transformations and connections in technology and American maritime culture. The exhibit features seemingly unlikely artifacts through interpretive tools, including video, audio, photography, visual activities, and even smell (yes, guano!). We slowed the pace for a contrasting exploration of Rosenfeld: On Land and On Sea – A Century of Women – a “flat” exhibit of forty 20th century black and white photographs. Elysa’s curiosity about the different ways that people learn and engage, her interdisciplinary approach, and her enthusiasm for her work are infectious.
During the past several years, I have participated in many YaleWomen Connecticut events, from the Museum Trail, to Curiosity and Conversation, to potluck dinners. For me, the opportunity to come together with alums from throughout the state at these unique events is not only compelling, but it’s nearly irresistible!
Karen Warner ’06 PhD
(Photo: Elysa Engelman, PhD [’94 Berkeley]; courtesy of Mystic Seaport)
Just a quick note to say hi and provide you with an example of how YaleWomen is influencing lives… Katie Ellias, my good friend from Yale, lives in Paris and we were able to sneak away from work and family for a day by ourselves in Barcelona (I was in Spain/France for a couple weeks… I know, sometimes everything just falls into place!). Katie and I were both in the midst of considering new job opportunities (Katie in private equity and myself in law) so we were chatting about the YaleWomen webinar on negotiating salary. It was a good program and prompted us to talk very pointedly about negotiating our own salaries as job situations change - what we can do, encouraging each other, etc.
It also made me feel somehow especially connected: here we were, walking down a street in Spain, chatting about the same webinar that was reaching both Chicago and Paris and interested both of us… it is wonderful that we are still part of something that remains relevant to our lives. We also spent a fair amount of time together discussing the tough parts of being a woman in professions that are increasingly male-dominated as we advance in our careers – it is also nice feeling that YaleWomen is on our side and kind of 'understands.'
Yay! to YaleWomen for reaching both of us on different continents and actually influencing us about negotiating salaries, etc. We'll bridge the pay gap eventually!
Tiffany Amlot ’00, President, Yale Club of Chicago
(Photo: Katie Ellias ’00 and Tiffany Amlot ’00; courtesy of Tiffany Amlot)
Across Yale’s library system are hidden archival treasures documenting the legacy of female students at Yale, the coeducation process, and celebrated women writers, artists and playwrights who have shaped their respective industries. “There is no special designation for women’s archives, but the library has a strong investment in women’s history,” said Melissa Barton ’02, one of seven Beinecke curators who oversee the American Literature holdings of the Beinecke Library.
She pointed to the James Welden Johnson collection as one with “strong holdings relating to women.” The celebrated highlights of this collection include African American women artists and writers Augusta Savage and Gwendolyn Bennett, as well as photographs of Zora Hurston. She also pointed to the James Marshall Osborne collection of annotated manuscripts, illustrating the history of reading through a woman’s notes. Barton’s recent curatorial efforts over her four years working at the Beinecke include developing the collection of Pulitzer prizewinning playwright Paula Vogel, the first woman playwright held in the Beinecke’s collections. The Paula Vogel Papers, which are accessible to students, include drafts of most of Vogel’s dozen published plays, as well as teaching files, email correspondence with theater practitioners, photographs and drafts of work by students. Vogel served as adjunct professor and chairwoman of the playwriting department at the Yale School of Drama (2008-2012).
Mary Caldera, who has been working in the Manuscripts and Archives department for 16 years, pointed to a 1969 image of Amy Solomon — the first woman to register at Yale College — from the University Library Digital Archives, as one of her favorite documents related to women at Yale. In 1968, after former President of Yale University Kingman Brewster announced the coeducation of Yale College through the introduction of 500 women, he appointed Elga Wasserman as the chair of the University Committee on Coeducation. This collection in Yale’s Manuscripts and Archives department contains notes from committee meetings, administrative correspondence and details on the new service programs that were implemented as a result of women being welcomed to Yale, including gynecological services, sex counseling, the addition of women faculty and women’s studies. The majority of these records remain sealed for another few decades, in accordance with the policies of the Yale Corporation. Even before the coeducation of Yale College, library records in the Viola F. Barnes collection showcase images of life at Yale and female PhD candidate Viola Barnes, who graduated in 1919.
Another significant set of library holdings document the 1976 Title IX protest by the Women’s Crew team, whom Caldera described as “protesting the lack of equal facilities in comparison to Men’s Crew.”
Both librarians noted the University's historical interest in showcasing collections pertinent to women, both those celebrated within Yale and in the wider world.
What struck me was the extraordinary span of collections related to women — both those celebrated within Yale and those who have made important strides in the wider world — across the library system. Between archives of New Haven based women's organizations to relics of the University's earliest students, the librarians interviewed noted the University's historical interest in showcasing its extensive collections pertinent to women.
Veena McCoole '19
Kate Walsh is funny.
Yes, she’s the President and CEO of Boston Medical Center, the teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine, with an operating revenue of over $2.8 billion, which serves many low-income patients.
And yes, she was just voted by her peers to be the next Alumni Fellow of the Yale Corporation.
But, she has a great sense of humor, coupled with tremendous humility.
In Kate’s 2014 commencement address to Suffolk University College of Arts & Science grads, she said: “There are many uplifting and inspiring graduation speeches out there. This is not one of them. So, please Google one of them if you’re feeling the need for encouragement.” She then proceeded to say that she’s a practical sort, a mom (of two), and that she was going to tell the 1,100 assembled grads about how to keep a job, and balance work and family.
She describes her promotion to CEO of a major medical institution, after serving as Executive VP and COO of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston as, “Not a meteoric rise to the top."
Kate’s story of that rise, irrespective of speed, is inspiring. One of five kids, and the daughter of a Brookline, Massachusetts police officer, she was the first in her family to attend college. As Kate says, laughingly, “Irish from Boston, from central casting. I should have been a nun.”
Her parents valued education, moving to Brookline for better schools. When it came to college applications, Kate sent out four or five, and went to look at schools by herself. Being a first generation student at Yale today would be tougher than it was for her, she says. With the greater income gap now, there are more pressures on lower income students. Today, Kate says, “you need a cell phone, a data plan, more stuff.”
When she started at Yale, she recalls, with her usual humor, all she needed were good boxes for moving. As she puts it: “I worked at a grocery store and I was very proud of my boxes. I could choose really good ones.” More seriously, she says, “I can’t imagine asking my parents for the stuff we bought our kids when we moved them into their dorms.”
As humble as Kate is in conversation, what others say about her demonstrates her true regard in the field. A colleague of Walsh’s from her days at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Gary Gottlieb, CEO of Partners in Health, characterizes her in a Yale Daily News article as someone who makes quick decisions rather than “[wasting] time and sort of lumbering along.” (Walsh actually describes herself “as not belaboring issues that clearly fall into the ‘yes or no’ category.”) The same News piece also quoted Janet Eisner, President of Emmanuel College, where Walsh served as board vice chair, as saying how much she valued Kate’s advice on financial matters: “Fifteen minutes with Kate can be worth hours with others.” Kate herself took business courses at Columbia and encourages women, who often shy away from finance, to get an MBA.
She has more wisdom - this is a sample:
- Apropos of her self-described, non-meteoric rise, Kate counsels patience to those expecting to be quickly crowned CEO: “I wasn’t thrilled 100 percent of the time in my jobs,” Kate says, but she always liked her field. Approach your career, she advises, as a lifelong learner, rather than worrying about how fast you can race to the top. And, in truth, she didn’t race. She picked up essential experience after getting her MPH at Yale, working at a number of New York institutions, before moving back to Boston.
- The best mentor isn’t necessarily the person three rungs above you – often it’s the other people who are doing what you’re doing. “Look over the wall of your cubicle,” Kate says. She recalls one of her mentors, another Yalie, who had different strengths. “I would have paper all over, and I remember her helping me sort it out on a Friday so that I could better start work on Monday. She knew what I needed because we were doing the same job.”
- Kate says her career made the biggest jump when she took the greatest risk, in her case, moving from the hospital sector to work under Mark Fishman ‘72 as COO of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, which later set her up to be COO of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The last time I had worked for a taxable entity, I was a waitress,” Kate comments.
- On the importance of team building, Gottlieb calls Kate “probably the best team builder I’ve ever met.” Kate admits that she thinks women are better at this: “It’s how we manage our lives. Teams of moms who keep the family afloat.” It’s also a loss in a society where we think that “we can do everything by remote control.” Kate says she probably spends too much time in meetings because she chats with others about their lives and lets people wander until they get to their point. Why? When people feel they are being listened to, they are more creative and thoughtful, she says.
- You can’t predict how your career will unfold. For Kate, choosing hospital administration was “total dumb luck.” A grant from Yale to spend a summer in an urban agency of her choice led her to the Brookside Health Center in Jamaica Plain, MA. (“My dad didn’t want me hanging around the courts.”) Instantly, Kate knew she wanted to run a health center like that, falling in love with its offerings from daycare to medical services.
And finally, Kate’s wisdom on health care: She is an evangelist for the mantra that health shouldn’t be dependent on zip code or other social determinants. For example, the hospital sponsors a one-of-a-kind therapeutic food pantry where cancer patients can get prescriptions for protein-rich food or families can receive a 3-day food supply when benefits run out. Kids get jump ropes to take home because, as Kate says, where there’s urban violence, parents won’t send children out to play. “I care deeply about access to healthcare,” Kate says. “It’s a fundamental right, especially in the richest country in the world.”
Elisa Spungen Bildner ’75
- On the Table: a Bouquet of Voices
- In Conversation with Tina Lu, Head of Pauli Murray College
- Joanne Lipman ’83 on Women’s Issues in the Workplace
- Yale’s Female Iconography: Former Yale College Dean Mary Miller’s Portrait
- Half the Population: Sarah Siegel ’19 Shares Her Experience as a Yale Women in Government Fellow
- YaleWomen Boston Honors Pauli Murray ’65 JSD and Grace Hopper ’34 PhD to Celebrate Women’s History Month
- YaleWomen Northern California and Women’s Health Research at Yale partner in a thought-provoking conversation
- Reflections on YaleWomen’s Salary Negotiation Webinar
- Update: YaleWomen Mentoring
- YaleWomen at Yale College Reunions
- Congratulations to Newly Elected Yale Corporation Alumni Trustee Kate Walsh ’77, ’79 MPH
- Donate Now!
Read the full newsletter here: YaleWomen Global Newsletter | June 2017
YaleWomen Northern California and Women’s Health Research at Yale partner in a thought-provoking conversation
“By sparking innovation in health research, we’re finding sex and gender differences that matter.”
- Women’s Health Research at Yale 2017
On May 16th and 17th, Northern California area alumni and friends, along with employees of Yelp and Google, engaged in a conversation with Dr. Carolyn Mazure, the Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and Director, Women’s Health Research at Yale, in partnership with YaleWomen Northern California and the Yale Alumni Association.
The first evening, hosted by the generosity of Yelp in San Francisco, Beth Axelrod ’89 MPPM (Vice President of Employee Experience at Airbnb and Vice Chair of YaleWomen, Inc.) engaged Dr. Mazure in a discussion about issues ranging from the founding of Women’s Health Research at Yale just 20 years ago, to the uncertain future of federal NIH funding for health research. Attendees were both educated and challenged to consider the broader importance of the study of sex and gender differences in research. Dr. Mazure noted the benefit of women’s health research as “it advances our knowledge of not only women’s health, but also the topic areas that we study, as they affect both sexes.”
The second evening was hosted by the generosity of Google Inc. and presented just as stimulating a conversation, engaging both the alumni and Google employees who attended. In a discussion moderated by Donna L. Dubinsky ’77 (CEO, Board Chair, and Co founder, Numenta, Inc. and Senior Trustee of the Yale Board of Trustees), Dr. Mazure described that the primary goal of the development of Women’s Health Research at Yale was to “stimulate research on women’s health that asks and answers previously unaddressed questions, and to enlist Yale faculty in leading the way in this enterprise.” Over the course of years, she described a shift in research to include more than solely reproductive health; research topics now encompass a diverse range of subjects including a study on the effects of stress on neurodevelopment and how this relates to our understanding of depression in women, a study of gender-specific treatments for tobacco dependence, and studies examining girls with autism and how they can present with different types and/or severity of symptoms than boys with autism.
Overall, attendees walked away better informed about the progress and challenges surrounding issues in women’s health, with a desire to learn more about the work and how to support this vital area of research. Women’s health research explores questions that are crucial to all of us; this work affects our mothers, our daughters, our wives and ourselves. To view videos and learn more about Women’s Health Research at Yale, visit this link.
A note of special thanks to Laurie Benjamin (WHRY Advisory Council), Bethany French (Google), Tiffany Hsu ’16 MBA, Carolyn Kenady ’74, Stephanie Rosenkranz ’02, and the amazing team in the office of Women’s Health Research at Yale.
- Mindy A. Marks ’00, AYA Director for Shared Interest Groups
“When I was 18, I didn’t think I’d still be fighting feminist battles my whole life, but I am.” Mary Miller ’81 PhD, reflected as we spoke about her portrait recently installed in the Faculty Room in Yale’s Connecticut Hall, where it hangs with seven other paintings of Yale College Deans, all white, all male. In addition to being the first (and only) female Dean of Yale College, a position she held from 2008-2014, Miller previously served for a decade as Head of Saybrook College, has taught art history at Yale for over 36 years, and currently claims the title of Senior Director of Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.
According to a sample study of portraiture conducted by the Women Faculty Forum at Yale, about 11% of campus portraits include female figures. Some spaces boast better numbers, such as Saybrook Dining Hall, where another portrait of Mary Miller hangs alongside 3 other portraits of women, making the tally there 4 out of 15 or about 30%. And the hall outside of the President’s Room upstairs in Woolsey Rotunda offers 75% with 4 portraits of past Yale provosts, including three women. Inside the President’s Room, though, men still dominate; here hang no portraits of women out of 8 portraits total. Will those numbers ever change? Will a portrait of a woman one day make it into the President’s Room? While we can’t know the answer to that question, we do know that with the addition of Miller’s portrait in the Faculty Room, the faculty who gather there no longer have only men to, quite literally, look up to. Now they also have this portrait of a woman of accomplishment to inspire them.
As Dean of Yale College, Miller served as chief academic officer of the undergraduate school of 5400 students, managed a staff of 240, and personally raised over $450 million ($100 million in 2014 alone, more than any previous Dean of Yale College in a single year). During her tenure, Miller also identified the need for a clear policy addressing sexual misconduct. Not only did she spearhead the effort to write a new policy; she also developed an ongoing program of Peer Educators to guide students in consent and intervention. Over the years, she explained, she had learned that the world is not a better place, that one could never declare victory—that, in essence, for a policy of sexual misconduct to be effective, people must be reminded year after year that sexual misconduct is possible and that each person must make their own choices. “You are your own person, intellectually, sexually. You are your own self. That should be liberating to both men and women.
When she committed to sitting for her portrait for 20+ hours, Miller hoped for a “warm and authoritative” effect. In the painting, she stands in a dark blue blazer covering a black outfit, hands crossed at mid-section, holding a pair of glasses. She gazes out at the viewer with an unmistakable authority. Alone among the 8 portraits that hang in the Faculty Room, Miller’s includes no props of her profession, while the 7 other images boast urns, paintings, maps, books (open, in piles, in rows), and even a machine alight with scientific discovery. Miller, on the other hand, stands against a rich gold background, a background that she said got “lighter and lighter” as the artist worked, finally “luminous” in contrast to the other darker paintings. While Miller explained that the bright, uncluttered trappings resulted from the artist’s desire for a 21st century portrait style, I can’t help but think about how these choices mark the subject as decidedly different. Unlike the others, this figure looks toward the future, suggesting: It’s not the props of my profession that matter, or the credentials; it’s the legacy I’ve left, the determined work toward an unwritten future.
- Alice Rebecca Moore ’16 PhD
Last week, my husband and I sat around a conference table, discussing our financial portfolio with a new advisor. As he started counseling us, he kept looking across at my husband, rarely meeting my eyes, and even when I directed a question to him, he answered Rob instead. I was sizzling, and later mentioned this to his supervisor.
It is this behavior, likely unintentional - I’m sure the guy didn’t want to alienate clients--that Joanne Lipman ’83, Chief Content Officer of Gannett, and Editor-in-Chief of USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network, responds to in her forthcoming book, Women, Men and Work, to be published in early 2018 by William Morrow.
Lipman would contend that my advisor, and many men with whom she has come in contact in her 40-year journalism career are “clueless, well-meaning guys, blind to a lot of issues women face every day at work.” The book, based on her viral Wall Street Journal piece “Women at Work: A Guide for Men,” argues that while women complain to each other about workplace issues, this represents only half of the conversation. Men need to participate as well.
The misogyny I describe and that Lipman has seen is not “the old kind”; it’s not older Yale alumni who didn’t think women belonged at the institution. Instead, it’s perpetrated by men who think of themselves as equitable, and would be horrified to be considered sexist. Lipman argues that by making these men aware of their behavior, as she does in her book, it will change.
For example, take a meeting where a woman makes a great point: Unless she talks in the emphatic way that men are prone to do, her comment is often left hanging, until a guy repeats it, getting credit for the idea. Lipman tells of one man she interviewed, made aware of this behavior, who now says something like, “Susan, you made the point originally. Why don’t you elaborate?”
Women can help themselves as well, Lipman says. “Brag buddies” are a group of women who get together and consciously back each other up at meetings by repeating an ignored comment. Or, they talk up female colleagues to a boss, since women are less likely than men to push their achievements.
Lipman admits women can unwittingly harbor the same biases as men: “We make an assumption that there are in-groups and outgroups, and that the in-groups are male, who are automatically accorded higher status.” She tells of an interview she arranged with two executives, whom she was now meeting for the first time. A man and a woman, the same age, crossed the room to introduce themselves, and Lipman said that she started to take the man’s hand first, assuming he was the senior, before checking herself.
What would Lipman say specifically to Yale women alums? Lipman has spoken to many young women from prestigious colleges and universities where they were leaders. She says they’ve always felt on an equal footing with men, but were surprised when they hit the post-university world. She tells of one woman, a Harvard Business School grad running her own hedge fund, who was shocked to find herself cut off by men in conversation. Lipman advises younger women not to assume that “everything’s fixed now” or to become complacent.
- Elisa Spungen Bildner, ’75
Last summer, I received the Women in Government Fellowship to intern for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo ’98 JD. The Women in Government Fellowship encourages Yale undergraduates to pursue political careers by participating in challenging internships with elected representatives in Congress or with elected or appointed officials in other political arenas, where students can see government and policy-making firsthand. Fellows also receive funding to enroll in the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, a five-day intensive course at Yale Law School on the basics of running a successful political campaign. Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, the Women in Government Fellowship has made it possible for more than 40 undergraduates to attend the Campaign School and explore government work.
As a policy intern in Governor Raimondo’s Office, I conducted research, wrote memos, briefed the Governor, created presentations, and participated in interagency and nonprofit meetings. I got to see our government in action. I also had the opportunity to attend weekly “Lunch and Learn” talks for summer interns by city and government officials, which helped broaden my understanding of the range of government activities and experiences, from the local to the state to the federal level. And I participated in a few YaleWomen Rhode Island events, thanks to the generosity of Rachel Littman ’91.
I was grateful and lucky to be so close to Governor Raimondo this past summer. I was inspired by her path to public service. She talked a lot about being a trailblazing woman, and how women and other underrepresented groups have an extra obligation to serve, to break down biases, and to lead the way for others to follow. Do you know that there are only four female governors? If we don’t join in, who will? Governor Raimondo is a role model for me. Though I had never previously considered participating in government, I felt—and continue to feel—inspired to do so after my summer experience.
This past school year, building on the success of four prior summers of Women in Government Fellows, I worked with the wonderful Stephanie Waite, Senior Associate Director at Yale’s Office of Career Strategy to create programming for students, including the cohort of past WIG Fellows, interested in government on campus, from humanities majors to science majors to graduate students. We hosted a variety of events, from talks with Governor Raimondo and Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, Senior Fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs to workshops with School of Management and Law School students to application workshops.
As I write this piece, I have begun working for a public defender’s office in Portland, Oregon. I look forward to learning more about a different aspect of public service. I am grateful to the Women in Government Program for opening my eyes to public service, providing me with skills, and surrounding me with other dedicated women. We need more programs and fellowships like it! I’m not sure what lies ahead, though there is a good chance that public service is in my future. Having women in government matters, not only because women bring women’s issues and perspectives to the agenda and are skilled at cooperating, but also because we are half the population.
Sarah Siegel ’19