YaleWomen Boston Brings Women and Men Together in Conversation About Women in Science, Physics and Black Holes
What does a scientist look like? A physicist, to be precise?
Image: Professor Meg Urry and Tamar Mentzler ’97
On November 5th, YaleWomen Boston hosted Professor Meg Urry, the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Yale and Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, in a conversation about women in science and black holes. Professor Urry is known for her efforts to increase the number of women in the physical sciences and was recognized for this work as a recipient of the 2010 Women in Space Science Award from the Adler Planetarium.
Dr. Tamar Mentzler ’97 BS Yale College, a PhD research scientist at Harvard, organized the event through a synergistic partnership with MIT’s Astrophysics Department and Graduate Women in Physics, a group formed to foster community among women in the department. Mentzler was able to hold the event at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research thanks to this partnership.
More than thirty people attended, including a number of Professor Urry’s former Yale students, both women and men, as well as Yale women alums from across the sciences, and Yale women alums with non-science backgrounds. Participants spanned class years, including a member of the class of 1971, the first class of women to graduate from Yale College. For some attendees, this was their first YaleWomen event.
This Women in STEM event, which goes hand in glove with the themes of Connectivity, Voice, and Parity that drive YaleWomen’s work, struck a chord not only with women, but with several Yale men alums who attended, one with his young daughter. Another was drawn to the event because he is responsible for overseeing science departments and wants to ensure equitable practices.
For Tamar, whose work has included building a community of women to take actions to redress the imbalance of women in science, coming to a deeper appreciation of the relevance of this topic to men and the importance of engaging them in YaleWomen’s work around Women in STEM was an unexpected outcome. As the date of the event approached, Tamar said, "I confess that as a physicist who is often the sole woman in many professional settings, I had a knee-jerk reaction to exclude men…(thinking about men who were interested in attending) has helped me think more critically about my stance…this is a conversation worth having." She noted the role men can play in addressing both a lack of awareness and implicit bias, as well as in creating circumstances, norms, and communities that are supportive of women.
YaleWomen Boston hopes this will become an annual event, something Professor Urry supports. Tamar noted that one of Professor Urry’s many strengths is speaking to the issue of the scientific imbalance in gender and race. For future events, Tamar said she will “advertise more explicitly to men. I think including men is crucial to realizing real change, and I believe there are men who are curious and care and might have attended if they were aware of the event.”
(This piece posted in the YaleWomen Facebook Group on March 16, 2018, noted that children’s stereotypes change as women’s and men’s roles change in society, and, as a result, they are more likely to draw a woman when asked to draw a scientist.)
Image: Sheryl Carter Negash ’82; Margaret Hilary Marshall ’76 JD, ’12 LLDH; Lise Pfeiffer Chapman ’81 MBA
The Yale Medal is the highest honor presented by the Yale Alumni Association (YAA). Inaugurated in 1952, it is conferred annually to recognize and honor outstanding individual service to the university. This year – for the first time ever – three women alums were awarded the Medal during the YAA Assembly and Alumni Fund Convocation in November.
Sheryl Carter Negash ’82
A committed ambassador for Yale, Negash has served as a member of the YAA Board of Governors and as a service, club, and shared interest group (SIG) leader. She began her volunteer service in 2009, organizing and leading a service trip with undergraduates on behalf of the Afro-American Cultural Center to promote higher education, work she has continued as part of the Higher Education Initiative. She also embraced the Yale Day of Service in 2009, going on to serve as a site coordinator and regional director, then as co-chair for the global event from 2015 to 2017.
Negash has also been a leader in her local alumni community. She served on the board of Yale Club of Los Angeles, and, as a member of the Alumni Schools Committee since 2010, she serves as regional director for the Southern California South Bay area, coordinating alumni interviews for prospective applicants and personally conducting 10 to 30 interviews annually.
She has been an active SIG volunteer as well. She was a member of the founding board of the Yale Black Alumni Association (YBAA), serving as a chapter leader, then as YBAA’s national president and chair. She was also a founding member of the YaleWomen Council and continues to serve as a non-Council member of the YaleWomen Award for Excellence Committee.
Negash joined the YAA Board of Governors in 2015 and from 2016 to 2018 served as co-chair of the YAA’s Alumni Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. She currently serves as co-chair for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale and has a leadership role planning the 50 Women at Yale 150 celebrations.
Margaret Hilary Marshall ’76 JD, ’12 LLDH
Marshall has made a significant and enduring impact on Yale, establishing herself as one of the university’s most active volunteers. She started as a volunteer soon after graduation, when she helped establish a Law School club in Boston. In 1990, she became a member of the Law School Executive Committee. She also volunteered on the Reunion Gift Committee and the Reunion Committee, serving as co-chair of the latter from 1994 to1995, in addition to her more recent leadership as a member of the Law School Alumni and the Law School Fund boards.
In 2004, she began a six-year term as an alumni fellow on the Yale Board of Trustees (then named the Yale Corporation) and, after completing her tenure in 2010, returned as a successor fellow in 2012. A year later she was elected the first woman senior fellow of the Board, a position she held until 2016. In between, she chaired Yale’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, work that ultimately led to the establishment of the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.
Marshall has also been a regular guest lecturer, attending and speaking at alum and student events, and serving as a frequent and dedicated mentor to all who seek her counsel. She was a panelist at YaleWomen’s 2013 inaugural conference, Vision, Values, Voice: Women Changing a Changing World, and she has been an active participant in Yale club gatherings in her hometown of Boston was well as a frequent speaker at Yale alumni regional events, including one last year in her native South Africa.
Lise Pfeiffer Chapman ’81 MBA
Chapman’s dedication was evident in her early days as site coordinator and regional director for the Yale Day of Service. In 2014, as Day of Service chair, she recruited presidents George H.W. Bush ’48, George W. Bush ’68, Bill Clinton ’73 JD, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ’73 JD to be the program’s inaugural honorary chairs.
Chapman joined the YAA Board of Governors in 2010 and was elected an executive officer in 2013 and chair in 2014. As chair, she focused on building stronger bonds between the on-campus and alumni communities, inviting President Peter Salovey and several deans to attend board meetings and setting the precedent of board participation in Yale College Reunion, Freshman Address, and Commencement events. She championed the creation of the Careers, Life, and Yale program to connect alumni with students, initiated the AYA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, and served as a Yale Alumni Service Corps project leader in Nicaragua, West Virginia, and India.
Following her service as YAA board chair, Chapman co-founded 1stGenYale, a shared interest group that fosters a supportive community for alumni and students from first-generation and underserved backgrounds. For the School of Management (SOM), Chapman chaired her 25th, 30th, and 35th reunions, and was a member of the 25th and 35th Reunion Gift committees. She currently serves as co-chair of 1stGenYale, member of the board of directors and class agent for the Yale Alumni Fund, and member of her local Alumni Schools Committee. She is also one of four founding administrators of the Yale Alumni closed Facebook group.
Previous Yale Medal recipients include many women alums who helped found, shape, and continue to build YaleWomen: Anne Boucher ’80, Weili Cheng ’77, Maureen Doran ’71 MSN, Kathy Edersheim ’87, Susie Krentz ’80, Susan Lennon ’85 MPPM, Bobbi Mark ’76, Ellen McGinnis ’82, Eve Rice ’73, Nancy Stratford ’77, Barbara Wagner ’73, and Vera Wells ’71.
Learn more about this year’s Yale Medal recipients here.
YaleWomen Global Newsletter | September 2018
- Letter From The Chair
- Because of You, It Mattered.
- Meet the Women on the YaleWomen Council
- YaleWomen Talks With Yale College Council President Saloni Rao '20
- Reimagining Alumni Relations Made YaleWomen Possible
- New Annotated Library Subject Guide on Coeducation: A 50 Women At Yale 150 Initiative
- President's Women of Yale Lecture Series Features Patricia Nez Henderson '94 MPH, '00 MD
- A Truly Global Outlook: YaleWomen's Growing Network of International Chapters
- Women Faculty Forum Unveils Portrait of Dr. Otelia Cromwell
- In Closing, A Word of Thanks
Yale Women Faculty Forum Unveils Portrait of Otelia Cromwell ’26 PhD, First African-American woman to earn a Yale PhD
As part of its mission, the Yale Women Faculty Forum is working alongside the Yale Public Arts Committee to increase the diversity of portraiture on campus. On September 21st, WFF unveiled a painted a portrait it had commissioned to honor Otelia Cromwell, the first African-American woman to receive a PhD from Yale University (1926). The portrait was painted by Jennifer Packer ’12 MFA, an assistant professor at Rhode Island School of Design. “Packer paints portraits with attention to the complexities of representation and the responsibilities of viewership. She is quoted, ‘It’s not figures, not bodies, but humans I am painting.’” Drawing upon the gospel lyrics, “You know my soul look back and wonder how did I make it over,” Vera Wells ’71 told Cromwell’s story, which includes being the first African American graduate of Smith College. To learn more, watch this compelling and powerful video produced by Smith College published on the WFF website.
Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson ’94 MPH, ’00 MD was the featured speaker for the Fall 2018 President’s Women of Yale Lecture Series.
Marta Moret ’84 MPH and Miko McGinty ’93, ’98 MFA reached out to a network of Native American Yale women alums and mentors, including Ashley Hemmers ’07, Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, Assistant Professor of American Studies and History, Anya Montiel ’18 PhD, and Kathleen Sleboda ’99 for speaker suggestions. Together, they recommended Dr. Nez Henderson.
In his opening remarks, President Salovey noted that the women alums who have spoken in this lecture series "represent the very best of the coeducation of Yale." This lecture was especially powerful. You can watch the video here. What you can't see in the video is the audience. Many of the attendees were students from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Dr. Nez Henderson connected with them in a transformational way: many leaned forward in their seats to catch every word, and their heads often nodded in agreement. The unexpected evidence of this connection was the several times students snapped their fingers in appreciation of her words – snapping is the new clapping!
- Mindy A. Marks '00, AYA Director for Shared Interest Groups, produces the President's Women of Yale Lecture Series.
Many women alums don’t realize that YaleWomen has chapters outside the United States, but we do! We currently have chapters in China, France, Hong Kong, London, and Ontario!
Karen Go ’99 is one of the founders of YaleWomen London. She recently shared its “origin story” as well as details about past and upcoming activities.
Q: What inspired you to found YaleWomen London?
A: Several years ago, I attended a European leadership event that AYA hosted in Rome. Mark Dollhopf, then the executive director of AYA, talked about how alums could make a real difference in connecting alums by volunteering their time with Yale. I talked with other alums who had carved out a little space for Yale alums to come together in their respective countries. Some were small groups – three or four alums – who sometimes got together. Others – like London – would engage larger groups of 50 to 60 alums. This inspired me! I returned home to London to see how I could become more involved. I’d been working with the Yale Club of London in a variety of capacities, including interviewing. Clearly there was a need for a YaleWomen chapter! It just needed someone to take the lead. The Yale Club of London gave its full support, and I talked with other volunteer leaders both in London and when I was back in New Haven for Assembly and my 15th Reunion. We hosted our event about 4 years ago – a social event at the home of Renata Cesar ’79 (Renata developed and chairs the Yale International Alliance, which – like YaleWomen – is an AYA Shared Interest Group). More than 90 Yale women alums attended! This confirmed that there was certainly a desire and an unfulfilled need to create a women’s network.
Q: What type or range of events does YaleWomen London typically host?
A: Like many YaleWomen chapters, we host a variety of events, some small and some large, including an annual social at Renata’s home. One of our signature events is a book group that has met monthly for almost two years – we try to introduce Yale writers into the mix of books. We’ve hosted alum leaders, including Weili Cheng ’77, executive director of AYA, when she visited London. When Joan O’Meara Winant ’73 (one of the YaleWomen NYC chapter heads) and Patti Russo, executive director of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale were en route to Oxford, we were able to host them in a robust discussion about women in politics – it’s a universal issue!
Q: Are there other ways, beyond what's posted on the calendar of the YaleWomen website, for alums to reach you and learn more about your events, e.g., a Facebook page?
A: We do have a YaleWomen London Facebook page [hyperlink https://www.facebook.com/groups/786605804718884/] -- check it out! Alums can email Alice Shyy ’08 and me – we’re co-chapter heads -- at [email protected].
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
A: Watch the calendar on the YaleWomen website for information a social event we will host in October – at Renata’s home – that will highlight Women’s Wellness and will feature Victoria Stainsby ’87 and Justine Lutterodt ’01.
Thank you to Karen and our other international chapter leaders for taking the lead in building a vibrant community of international women alums!
Photo L-R: Renata Cesar '79, Weili Cheng '77, Karen Go '99
This summer, an early 50 Women at Yale 150 initiative launched at Manuscripts and Archives. Funded anonymously and conducted under the umbrella of the 50 Women at Yale 150 Steering Committee, two doctoral students worked with Yale University Archivist Michael Lotstein on an annotated research guide about coeducation.
Sarah Pickman, a doctoral student in the Department of History, and Brent Salter, a doctoral student at Yale Law School, examined more than forty-six collections, took meticulous notes, and determined which material was best suited for the research guide. The results of their work will be published online with the University Library's research guides: https://guides.library.yale.edu/?b=s. According to Lotstein, the guide will help all students and researchers to “zero in on specific documents of interest.” He also noted that this research guide will be unique in its comprehensiveness, depth, and scale.
Immediate beneficiaries of this subject guide will be students in both–Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools–who have shown an increased research interest in coeducation in America over the past several years. This renewed study of coeducation has attracted students in many departments, including Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Lotstein noted that it was “serendipitous to have the need arise and to also have the generous support of the Steering Committee.”
The research guide will be available in the Spring of 2019, just as 50 Women at Yale 150 programming is increasing, and in time for what we anticipate will be an even greater scholarly interest in coeducation. We hope that this is just the start of our Yale women alums’ engagement with Yale’s archives.
We will be reporting on this and other projects of the celebration year; stand-by for further updates.
- Miko McGinty ’93, ’98 MFA
Transforming the world.
This is the third leg of YaleWomen's bold vision, which emerged in 2013 following our inaugural conference. Five years later, this call to action remains a tall order. Consider the rich diversity of thought and perspective that the now more than 10,000 Yale women alums who have opted in bring to bear on the work of YaleWomen. Consider the increasingly complicated world in which we live and work, and to which we all bring the responsibility of our Yale education and experience, whether Yale College or the Graduate & Professional Schools.
YaleWomen is pushing into the why of all that we do—our purpose and beliefs—to connect Yale women alums and amplify their voices, in this e-newsletter and in our webinars and chapters. You lead demanding personal and professional lives. YaleWomen has to compete to find a place in your why. If we're doing our job right, "Transforming the world" will always be a tall order. We're bolstering our response to this call to action by broadening our guiding themes of "Connect" and "Voice" to include "Parity." Watch for more news about how this will be put into practice.
Please join YaleWomen in celebrating and telling the stories of Yale women. Let us hear from you, in our Facebook group or by email to [email protected]. Our thanks for all you do!
Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM
In 2011, when YaleWomen was envisioned, it was a “big idea.” Now in our 8th year, the why that drives, informs, and shapes the work in which this community of Yale women alums engages – Connectivity, Voice, and Parity – is increasingly important. You made possible everything we did during the past year. We are grateful for your generous support – your time, talent, and treasure.
Every time you opened one of the four quarterly enewsletters we published and clicked on a link, it mattered.
Every time you registered for one of the three webinars we produced, it mattered. (At Assembly, AYA recognized the success of our webinar series with a Leadership Award!)
Every time you engaged in the inclusive, vibrant, respectful and meaningful exchanges on our Facebook group, it mattered.
Every time you joined with other Yale women alums at events hosted by one of 20+ chapters around the world, it mattered.
Every charitable gift you made in response to our annual appeal – no matter the size – mattered.
This year, as we continue to build on these signature initiatives, we will also celebrate the YaleWomen Award for Excellence, for both Lifetime Achievement and Impact. Watch for more news about this and Events Beyond Yale in conjunction with 50 Women at Yale 150. Because of you, it all matters!
Saloni Rao ’20 is president of the Yale College Council this academic year, the first woman in a decade to helm the undergraduate student government. While the YCC has been around since 1972, only a few women have served as president. The last female YCC president was Rebecca Taber ’08, who is on the YCC Board of Trustees and who recently founded an educational nonprofit, Merit America.
What motivated you to run for YCC president?
I’ve been involved with the YCC since I stepped foot on campus my first year, and I saw that a lot of things about both Yale and the YCC organization could be better. Running for YCC president, to me, was the best way I could realize this potential for change.
What was the most challenging part of your campaign?
It was a massive personal challenge. On the Thursday when voting officially opened, I must have cried about fifteen times; I’d say campaigning was the worst week of my life. It’s a lot of stress, managing a campaign and the people running it, and I knew it was part of what I was signing up for, but I was not fully prepared for how personal the election would get. When you run on a campus-wide platform, you open yourself to all kinds of criticism, whether it’s about the way you look or something else. To most people on campus during the election, you’re seen as a figure running for a position, not a student or a fellow Yalie. Of course, since then, it’s been more than worth it.
What is the most gratifying part of your role in the YCC?
When we make changes or advocate for change as a Council, students recognize that their voices can be heard. Often, they feel that speaking up for change on campus falls on deaf ears and that there’s no real channel for change. We want to make the YCC more accessible this year. We want students to realize that speaking to a YCC representative about something leads to real change on campus. For example, someone reached out to me over the summer about the fact that people don’t really know how to use Excel in the workplace during their summer internships and asked if we could have a workshop to teach these skills. Now, we’re getting Excel workshops in the spring for anyone interested in strengthening that skill. It’s gratifying to show students that they can ask for something and we can do our best to get it done. Still, there are a few things within our purview and it’s up to students to speak up: progress is a two-way street.
On a more personal note, it’s been important for me to be a mentor to younger students. The responsibility that older students take to help younger students – something that attracted me to Yale in the first place – is one I’ve taken personally by being a mentor to younger women. Part of why a lot of women don’t run for YCC president is because they don’t see people like themselves in those roles. While I can’t put my finger on it, there’s an internal YCC culture that is prohibitive to women running for these positions in many ways. To address this, we’re planning internal YCC women events to gear up more women to run for these roles in the spring.
Briefly describe your main goals and campaign initiatives for your year as president.
YCC Vice President Heidi Dong and I – we both served on the executive board last year – ran on a three-pronged platform.
First, the YCC was not seen as a voice for students, it was just seen as the YCC that wasn’t really representative of the Yale student body. Our campaign featured extensive YCC internal reform, including turning one governing body into two, much like the US legal system, with a senate and a council of representatives. Our senate will work on policy change and consist of two representatives from each residential college, and our council will convene student group leaders so that all students at Yale feel represented. Currently, the YCC is missing athletes and students of color, so this aims to bring together different perspectives from across Yale.
The two other big items are sexual assault reporting and mental health resources, which are extremely complex issues and therefore haven’t been tackled in the past. In addition, we want to take action on financial aid changes, and are working on a number of one-off projects.
What are some changes to Yale student life that the YCC has enacted recently?
We’re working with the Yale Dems and some other groups to increase voter registration among Yale students for the upcoming midterm election by securing funding for Turbogo, a software that auto-registers university students for voting. We’ve also partnered with different offices, including the Office of Career Services, to bring a few different workshops to campus in the late fall and spring geared towards career and postgraduate opportunities, as well as pre-law resources and first-year specific courses.
What is something most people don't understand about the YCC? Is there a common misconception you'd like to clear up about your role?
A common misconception is that the YCC doesn’t really function for students and has a hard time making actionable changes. While this is true in certain areas, I think if students buy into the mission of the YCC and believe in what we’re capable of, there will be real synergistic change on campus. Furthermore, the YCC is seen as a more legitimate body in the administration’s eyes if the student body participates and contributes to our initiatives. Increasing the legitimacy of the YCC through student participation ultimately increases our potential to make improvements.
What do you believe is the most problematic thing about the Yale undergraduate experience that needs fixing?
On the surface it seems like all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at Yale, a mentality that Yale markets to prospective students. It’s not true: the university needs to do a better job to help everyone get on a level playing field.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind as the YCC's first female president since Rebecca Taber ’08?
I hope to leave behind a legacy of the YCC being perceived as a legitimate organization. On a more personal front, I want to champion the notion that a woman can take on this position of high leadership – in the YCC but also in any organization inside or outside of Yale – and do just as good a job as anyone who came before her, if not better.
- Veena McCoole ’19