YaleWomen Webinar Inspires Action to Combat Gender Bias in the Workplace

Pictured: Lori Nishiura Mackenzie and Beth Axelrod ’89 MPPM

On May 18th, YaleWomen hosted its 6th webinar, this one entitled "Gendered Language and Blocking Bias in the Workplace."  Participants wrote in that the webinar inspired them to take action such as reviewing hiring practices; educating others to pay attention to their biases; being mindful of how women are evaluated; elevating female colleagues; re-examining job descriptions for gendered language; introducing women powerfully with results-driven language; and supporting concrete measures to address workplace bias.

The webinar was produced by Ursula Burton ’88 and Jennifer DeVore ’87, both of whom are members of the YaleWomen Council. Beth Axelrod ’89 MPPM, YaleWomen Vice Chair and Vice President of Employee Experience at Airbnb, moderated the conversation, which featured Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, Executive Director of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research and co-founder of the new Stanford Center for Women’s Leadership. Axelrod and Mackenzie participated in the webinar live from the Airbnb offices in San Francisco. More than 500 female and male undergraduates, graduate students, alums, family, and friends from all over the world registered for the event, and many submitted questions throughout the webinar.

Part of the inspiration for the conversation, Axelrod explained, came from the questions that YaleWomen’s leadership was asking about the way gendered language was used to recognize the accomplishments of women. Gendered language alters girls’ and young women’s career aspirations, as we tend to associate leadership with typically male behavior. Sometimes, gender stereotypes unintentionally influence the words we choose. Through engaging discussion and an informative question-and-answer format, this webinar successfully examined how language and word choices shape perception and, ultimately, success.

Mackenzie integrated fascinating scientific research studies into her discussion of language shaping perception. “We make these gender associations in a millisecond,” she said, associations which vary when the same word is spoken by a man or by a woman. In the context of communication with children, Mackenzie said that girls are spoken to with a fixed mindset, whereas young boys receive messages aligned with a growth mindset. “From a very young age, we’re not schooling [girls] in the mechanism of problem-solving,” she explained.

Furthermore, Mackenzie highlighted the disparity between what we value and our perceptions. “The stereotype of men aligns with agency, but the stereotype of women aligns with communal language, the language of ‘we’,” she said. “Automatically, it’s easier for men to be perceived as leaders, even if they aren’t necessarily more agentic.” Mackenzie’s work examines the performance descriptions of men and women: women receive vague feedback and communal language in these reviews, whereas men receive clear, actionable, and specific feedback.

If you were unable to participate in this rich and thought-provoking conversation, we encourage you to tune into the webinar recording on YouTube here.

- Veena McCoole '19

Yale College Women Alums at Yale Reunions

Yale women alums celebrating their reunions on campus this year had another great event to add to the long list of "official" reunion events: breakfasts hosted by the Yale Alumni Association for Yale College women alums on each of the reunion Saturdays (May 26th and June 2nd).  Women alums met at The Study at Yale to enjoy lively conversations with other alums, learn more about YaleWomen, and hear about the launch of 50 Women at Yale 150, celebrating the 50th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation and the 150th anniversary of the admission of women graduate and professional students to Yale. Mindy A. Marks ’00 showcased the fabulous 50 Women at Yale 150 “lux et femina” tee-shirt! The breakfasts provided an opportunity for women alums from across the world to meet, mingle, and network. Sarah Pearsall '93 summed up the experience beautifully with her words: “The breakfast was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the YaleWomen endeavors and new ways to get involved. I did not know much before the breakfast about what was happening in this area, and I was really glad to learn more. It was also a pleasure to chat informally with so many impressive Yale women from our class and others."

- Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88

Seeking Mentors for Tsai CITY at Yale

Pictured: Wendy Maldonado D’Amico ’93 of TSAI CITY Mentoring

Pictured: Wendy Maldonado D’Amico ’93 of TSAI CITY Mentoring


Are you interested in providing your professional expertise to young innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs at Yale? If so, read on!

The new Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY) is actively recruiting women and people of color to join its mentor network. Launched in the fall of 2017, Tsai CITY has the mission to inspire and support students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to seek innovative ways to address real-world problems.

Our students are Yale undergraduates and graduate students who are starting businesses, organizations, and initiatives to make the world a better place. 

Project examples

Some examples of student initiatives for the summer include:

  • a crowdsourcing financial instrument to bring solar panels to low-income communities
  • a documentary film project showcasing alternative stories of black Americans
  • an agroforestry company importing Ethiopian honey
  • an aquaponics company
  • a nonprofit that integrates Muslim immigrants into American society
  • an app to connect local chefs to foodies to combat social isolation
  • a fashionable steel-toed boot for female engineers

Expertise needed

We are looking for mentors with expertise in specific industries and areas, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, fashion, food, finance, energy, international trade, nonprofit, social entrepreneurship, filmmaking, agriculture, sustainability, retail, cultural institutions, real estate, and more. 

We also need mentors with functional expertise in branding, marketing, finance, operations, intellectual property, leadership, venture capital, hiring, software engineering, big data, customer identification, product prototyping, organizational capacity-building, and startup experience, along with many other skills.

Mentor profile

Mentors should have specific expertise to offer, enjoy working with young people, and provide targeted, constructive feedback.


We will tailor the mentorship to your availability. You can offer a one-time “laser” coaching session; a conversation once a month by phone or video-conferencing; or meetings every two to three weeks.  

Mentors typically coach one team at a time. Mentors are carefully matched to student teams according to mentor expertise and team need. Each match is monitored for quality of interaction on both sides. 


All mentors are screened over the phone with a 30-minute interview before a match is considered. Mentors who pass the screening are invited to register in our mentor database.  If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact me at wendymaldonado.damico@gmail.com to schedule an interview time. In the subject line of your email, please use “Tsai CITY Mentoring.” We look forward to hearing from you!

- Wendy Maldonado D'Amico '93


Behind the Logo: 50 Women at Yale 150

50 Women at Yale 150 is thrilled to announce the launch of the logo, website, and initial plans for the 2019-2020 celebration of women at Yale. We invite the community of Yale women and friends to explore the website and use it as a resource.  Information and particularly the events calendar for 2019-2020  will be regularly updated at celebratewomen.yale.edu.

In late winter 2017, President Salovey and Secretary Goff-Crews appointed Linda Koch Lorimer ’77 JD and Eve Rice ’73, to co-chair this University-wide celebration. During the last year, they have been coordinating plans across the University, meeting with deans, professors, and staff throughout Yale College and the Graduate & Professional Schools.  Along with Performances and Exhibitions Committee co-chairs Vera Wells ’71 and Amy Meyers ’85 PhD, they have met with representatives of Yale’s museums, libraries, collections, and musical and theatrical performance groups. Together, they have encouraged the development of programming at Yale during 2019-2020 featuring the history, accomplishments, and leadership of women. The Events Beyond New Haven Committee, co-chaired by Ellen McGinnis ’82 and Sheryl Carter Negash ’82 with Beverly Jurenko ’86 serving as deputy chair, will encourage alums to plan off-campus events that tie into the celebration.

I was honored to design the logo for 50 Women at Yale 150 with my colleague Rebecca Sylvers ’15. We used the Yale typeface and the new Mallory typeface, first designing concepts which we presented to Linda, Eve and the steering committee for feedback. We further refined the concepts based on feedback received from University Printer and Yale School of Art Senior Critic John Gambell ’81 MFA and from renowned type designer, type design teacher, and Yale School of Art Critic Tobias Frere-Jones. Rebecca and I finalized the logo, created a style guide for its use, and then worked with Campus Customs to create bags, hats, mugs, and tee-shirts. The tee-shirts and mugs both feature the less formal tagline "lux et femina" on the back and are available at Campus Customs.

During reunions we invited a wonderful group of emissaries to join us in publicizing and talking about the project. At each reunion, they gave away lanyards and buttons. Thank you to our marvelous emissaries: Eve Rice ’73, Maria Lopez Bresnahan ’78, Kyle Gibson ’78, Alix James ’83, Jennifer Ebisemiju Madar ’88, Ursula Burton ’88, Ilona Emmerth ’98, Jennifer Stout ’03, Erin Johnson ’08, and Jessica Ruck ’13.

Also during reunions this year, 50 Women at Yale 150 launched an oral history  project, led by Executive Producer Kyle Gibson ’78 and facilitated by Mindy A. Marks ’00, to interview the first undergraduate women at Yale. The first classes of women in Yale College –  ’71, ’72, and ’73 –  all arrived on campus together in September 1969. The 45th reunion weekend for the Class of ’73 presented a wonderful opportunity to film the first of these videos:  twenty ’73 women alums were interviewed by Carol Whitehead ‘72, Kyle Gibson, and Tina Babarovic, head of Video and Production at the Office of Public Affairs and Communications at Yale. Karin Shedd '16 ran one of the cameras and assisted with interviews.   Filming of women in the first three classes will continue throughout the coming year.

We look forward to reporting further news in this year leading up to the celebration in 2019-2020.


- Miko McGinty ’93, ’98 MFA

Chair's Letter

Pictured: Members of the YaleWomen Council at the in-person meeting held at Airbnb headquarters in May 2018 in San Francisco


“This is why we do what we do.”

This year, when alums have told us that engaging with YaleWomen has influenced their lives – from deciding to run for elected office, to negotiating salary, to identifying and taking next steps after watching our “Gendered Language and Blocking Bias in the Workplace” webinar (see story below) – we’ve frequently found ourselves saying “this is why we do what we do.”

We also found ourselves focused on the word why in conjunction with the YaleWomen Council’s in-person meeting last month, as we began our work to chart a course for the 2018-2019 year and beyond. You might be interested in exploring the tool we used to help us get to YaleWomen’s why – our purpose and beliefs – which will guide us as we develop this year’s workplan. (Spoiler alert for those of you who tinker with the tool: our why will take us to our how and our what!) Stay tuned for more information!

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 info@yalewomen.org. Our thanks for all you do!

Susan E. Lennon ’85 MPPM
Chair, YaleWomen


Soaring to New Musical Heights: Sofia Campoamor ’19, The First Female Whiffenpoof

Sofia Campoamor is a junior in Morse College.  She is a music major and a member of Mixed Company.  She is also, notably, breaking barriers as the first female Whiffenpoof.

Whim ‘n Rhythm and the Whiffenpoofs jointly announced that they would consider singers of all genders to be members.  Why the change now?

It’s important to understand the statement the two groups are making.  It isn’t about being co-ed, it’s about not wanting gender to define the groups.  The groups looked at what was important to them about their music and not the labels that defined them and their singing. 

Why the Whiffenpoofs rather than Whim ‘n Rhythm?

I auditioned for both.  For me, personally, I was interested in the Whiff’s music and taking the year off to concentrate on the group.  I remember seeing the Whiffenpoofs when I was a first year in high school. I thought, wow, it would be so cool if I could do that, but I guess I can’t because I am not a guy.  I want things to look different. 

How do you feel about being the only woman in the group next year?

It is the reality of my next year.  Happily, I am going with some of my closest friends from Mixed Company.  Not everyone might be comfortable with that, but I am.  Still, it will be a group mostly comprised of men, which means I will still have a gendered experience.  I hope that it will be the beginning of a conversation rather than the end. 

How will this impact the repertoire of the Whiffs going forward?

I don’t anticipate it impacting the repertoire at all.  I was considered a tenor.  You want a range of pitches in an arrangement, and tenor parts can be quite high. 

You are a music major.  How has that impacted your a capella experience? 

I really enjoyed being the only music major in Mixed Company.  It’s good to be with people who are not in music all the time.  Last semester, I took a class on arranging voices, and I now have more tools and perspectives.  I like to think about music all the time – in school and extracurricularly.  My major let me make an album for my senior project with original songs as part of my degree.  I am thinking about potentially using one of my original songs in the repertoire next year. 

Do you have a particular influencer you admire? 

I do – Sara Bareilles, a singer-songwriter.  She writes music and has an incredible voice.  She makes everything true to herself.  In her Broadway show Waitress, she had an all-female creative team. 

How has Yale been for you in regards to gender?

I’ve never really felt like my gender has been an obstacle or put me in difficult situations.  There have been classes I have been in where there are very few women, particularly in composition.  However, my primary professor in composition is a woman, Kathryn Alexander, which has been great.  Even when most of the people in the room are men, I have never seen it come up in a way that has been harmful.  But it can make you feel like being a little more watchful.  It puts you on edge. 

I think gender is still useful in connecting with others and as an identity but not to define a singing group.  The women in my life are extremely important to me, as is being able to share and talk about things that are important to me with other women.  Most of the world is still a place where people have a different experience based on their gender.  It can be useful to look at things with that lens so we can address things when gender becomes an obstacle.  I’m trying to learn what that looks like in the music industry.  When you look at instrumentalists in bands, you have your female front woman singing but a whole lot of guys backing her up.  And producing and engineering are jobs still traditionally thought of as male.  There is a lot to be worked on.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

I really love writing songs and singing them.  I’d like to be doing that as much as possible.  I want to write as many good songs as I can and keep finding people to sing them and produce them.  I’m still working out whether I want to sing or write.  Right now, I plan on doing both, perhaps focusing on each at different times.  I would be happy just doing the writing but would love to keep the two together if possible. 

What would you tell others at this point in your life about how you find courage?

Throughout my life, the best things I’ve done, I did not know to be scared of.  I didn’t know what it would be like, so I thought, I’m just going to do it.  That’s something I’ve noticed again and again, and it’s been really wonderful. 

Where do you find inspiration for what you do?

It depends.  If I’m sitting at an instrument, I improvise and then pursue.  Or if I have a lyrical idea, I attach it to music pretty quickly.  I may take a saying or construct a new idea around familiar songs.  I try to write songs that I want to hear, songs that don’t exist yet.  I grab something on my mind and try to build around it. 

- Susan Pepin ’87, MD, MPH

One Chapter Ends; Another Begins: Joan O’Meara Winant ’73 Reflects on the Early Years of YaleWomen

For me, the roots of YaleWomen stretch back to my long-ago undergraduate days as one of the first female freshwomen.  The somewhat chaotic goldfish-bowl atmosphere on campus in the fall of 1969 led many of us to form intense, life-long friendships with female suite- and college-mates.  After graduation, we sought each other’s company at engagement parties, weddings, graduate school graduations.  Then those occasions passed, so we started meeting for a weekend every year, to talk about careers, relationships, marriages, divorces, kids, infertility.  No subject was off the table, and confidences were kept.  We loved being together and missed each other when we were apart.

Yale herself created two fantastic opportunities for us to reunite on campus:  the Gender Matters: Women and Yale in Its Third Century conference co-hosted by AYA and the Women Faculty Forum in 2001 and, a few years later in 2004, AYA’s In the Company of Scholars: Yale Women in a Changing World conference.  Both brought together not just my own personal posse but a diverse group of amazing Yale women alums from both the College and the Graduate & Professional Schools from all eras.    

It was during AYA’s 2010 conference, Celebrating Yale Women: 40 Years in Yale College, 140 Years at Yale, that the opportunity to capture the energy and passion of Yale women alums took hold.  Nancy Stratford ’77 and Ellen Gibson McGinnis ’82 were tasked with hosting a series of listening sessions around the country to explore the interest in, and feasibility of, a Yale women alum group.

Nancy and I, both living in New York City, met and bonded on our walks back to the subway after several of these sessions and decided to put our heads (and our contact lists!) together and hold a few events.  At the time, my late husband, Riv, was quite infirm, so I had lots of time at home to email and talk to people while he rested.  He encouraged me because he himself was a huge “people person” with a large international network of friends and colleagues and so thought our work was valuable.  He was able to attend one or two early events of what would become YaleWomen NYC. 

Our list and our events grew; sadly, my husband’s health declined.   His memorial service was on February 26, 2011, the official launch date of YaleWomen, which is why I am not in the iconic Founders’ photo on the YaleWomen website.  

So, my chapter as his wife and colleague ended, but the YaleWomen NYC chapter that emerged has been both a balm and a solace in my widowhood.   We stood 75 strong, new friends and old, in Riv’s and my apartment for the 2017 holiday party.  I felt his spirit in the room; I don’t think I was the only one to sense his presence. 

We may go on in life together with some sadness, but there is also joy in finding new and enduring connections in the vibrant mix that is YaleWomen NYC. 

- Joan O'Meara Winant '73

Photo courtesy of Joan O'Meara Winant.

Bringing A Diversity of Experiences to Yale Athletics: A Profile of New Athletic Director Vicky Chun

In July, Victoria ("Vicky") Chun will depart her post of six years as Vice President and Director of Athletics at Colgate University to lead Yale Athletics as Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation. Chun is the first female Asian-American to serve as an athletic director in NCAA Division I history, and the fifth female athletic director in the Ivy League. In her new capacity, Chun will oversee 35 varsity sports teams as well as intramural and club sports and facilities enjoyed by many members of the Yale community.

As Yale's first new athletic director in 24 years, Chun steps into a role long held by Tom Beckett, who is retiring this year. Her rich diversity of experiences include sports administration in the NCAA, national committees, volleyball coaching at Colgate, and conference championships won as both a player and a coach.

Chun's commitment to academics aligns well with Yale's institutional values. Under Chun’s leadership, for the first time ever, the student-athletes at Colgate outperformed non-athlete students academically in 2016, boasting a higher grade-point average. Chun believes that a powerful combination of academics and athletics can bring together the whole university.

Although Yale has ten more varsity athletic teams than Colgate, Chun notes similarities between the two institutions. "In terms of recruiting, we are always looking for the same student-athlete," she said. "The sheer size is a difference, but the core values of integrity and succeeding at the Division I level are the same." Chun said she is excited to work with the larger number of student-athletes of Yale's academic and athletic calibre and benefit from the "larger outreach" afforded by Yale's reputation. 

Chun attributes both her previous successes at Colgate as well as her future hopes for Yale to her leadership as a woman. While gender parity in the realm of collegiate athletic leadership has improved over time, Chun remains in the minority of female leaders in sport. Yet the incoming athletic director sees this as an advantage. "I think there is an inherent trust for a woman leader, because as a woman, you tend to be in tune with where people are coming from without them having to say it," she said. Chun says she felt that her leadership as a woman created more trust among athletes, coaches, administration, and faculty, "through transparency and a lot of communication."

At Yale, Chun hopes to foster not only a winning athletic program but also one that is healthy and positive from the inside. "I love the external work that comes with being a director of athletics, but my heart is about making sure that the internal is set," she said. "I want people to be happy at Yale and want to work hard for Yale." Chun says she looks forward to meeting with students, staff, faculty, and coaches to hear their opinions on what can be improved. "Tom Beckett has done a wonderful job at Yale for more than 20 years, and I would like to see what he thinks could improve because he has been there," she said. Beyond engaging with the athletic community upon her arrival, Chun hopes to lead Yale's athletic teams to more wins and increase engagement with the surrounding community of New Haven. "I hope I'm able to take the success I was able to achieve at Colgate and bring it to Yale," she said.

In the past, Chun has only coached women's teams, and she mentioned that she has received comments about having never coached a men's team. Despite this, she believes athletes in general want to win and all need an environment conducive to their success. "My job is to give them, male or female, that opportunity." Chun also mentioned the importance of thorough preparation as a leader representing an esteemed institution. "My preparation for everything is thrice normal because it's one thing to let myself down, but I really can't let Yale – and women in athletics – down," she said, adding that the pressure she faces makes her a better leader.

"The ultimate goal is to create leaders for society, and when I look at what the Yale men and women are able to do globally, it is incredible," she said. "Being a part of mentoring them and giving them a great experience at Yale so they go out into the world and make great changes is an opportunity that only comes at a place like Yale. I see it as an opportunity of a lifetime."

- Veena McCoole 19

Where Will You Be on Saturday, May 12th?

At the intersection of Nathan Hale’s declaration, “I wish to be useful” (inscribed in the Memorial Quadrangle) and one of YaleWomen’s areas of focus, Contributing to Society, is Yale Day of Service – this year, celebrating the 10th anniversary of bringing alums across clubs, classes, Graduate & Professional School associations and SIGs, including YaleWomen, together in service to their local communities.

YaleWomen, especially through our chapters around the world, has a distinctive opportunity to bring alums, families, and friends together, by sponsoring and/or participating in project sites, particularly those that focus on women and children. 

Elvira Duran ’05, co-chair of this year’s Day of Service and a former YaleWomen Council member, notes that while May 12th is the official 2018 Day of Service date, “Service is needed in our communities and is given by Yale alums in so many ways year-round. This year we strive to achieve our goal of having at least one service site in all 50 states. Can Yale women alums who live in or know alums who live in Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota help make this possible?”

The Day of Service website offers a wealth of information, from Ways to Participate, to the Organizer’s Toolboxsubmitting a Service Site, Finding a Service Site and much more!

Do you know that Yale was the first American university to inscribe service to society explicitly in its founding legislation? Day of Service is one of Yale’s compelling pride points! Let’s help make this 10th anniversary an extraordinary one!

Pictured above, Elvira Duran