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Remembering 50

Curated and collected by the Women's Leadership Initiative at Yale, an undergraduate student organization

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 has published a book of stories from alumni and current students from Yale College and various professional schools. The book focuses on the experiences of womxn at Yale, as well as how the acceptance of womxn has shaped Yale culture and affected the Yale experience. 

CONTENT WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS MENTIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL ASSAULT.

 

The book features the stories of the first classes of women admitted in 1969, students who remember the protests during the Vietnam War and historic campus events such as the construction of the Women’s Table and the Women’s Crew Title IX protest. It also commemorates their personal struggles, with relationships, mental health, barriers due to gender, and imposter syndrome, among other challenges. It celebrates the joyful moments too—encouraging professors, getaways with fellow students and friends, and incredible memories that have come to define the Yale experiences.
 
Most importantly, the book commemorates trailblazers—people of all identities and backgrounds, speaking about their Yale experience from different time periods. We hope this book will inspire more people to recognize and appreciate the contribution of womxn and understand how life at Yale has changed for womxn over the past 50 years.

“Yale both marginalized and empowered us.

We were forced to demand our rightful place in physical and social spaces that had denied us entry for centuries. We knew we belonged at Yale as much as any male student, but also knew that the institution was a long way from figuring out what that meant. There was a kind of self-confidence that we acquired just by virtue of getting in, showing up, being ourselves, and playing a role in tearing down antiquated barriers that deserved to be demolished. We left with memories of the marginalization we challenged and we left with the power that a Yale College degree conferred.”

— SHELLEY FISHER FISHKIN —

(YALE COLLEGE, ES '71)

“I’d be lying if I said that the prevailing organizational culture, male, raucous and cheeky, didn’t facilitate a general experience of playful havoc during my year in charge . . .

But it also challenged me as a female leader.

Trial and frequent error drove home unexpected lessons to the contrary: that if I was too worried about seeming firm and therefore bitchy, I couldn’t inhabit a leadership role fully, and if I wanted a climate where that bouncing glob of passionate people could have fun together, it was on me to create it with emotional intelligence, confidence, and choice. Sometimes that meant finding the spit to overrule our all-male script team on a performance problem the night before a football game, and sometimes it meant learning the hard way that when I avoided a tough but necessary conversation I devalued my own influence.”

— BETSY GOLDEN KELLEM —

(YALE COLLEGE '01)

The Faces Behind the Voices:
Book Contributor Biographies

“If there's anything my personal tragedy taught me, it's that women at Yale lift one another up.

We're at each other's side, no matter the physical distance between us. And while yes, we feel pressured to make a difference in the world, we are also more than capable of rising to the challenge. The world will need a lot of healing. We'll help another work to heal it, and we'll heal ourselves in the process.”

— MIRANDA RECTOR —

(YALE COLLEGE, ES '20)

Book Launch Recording
 
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© 2020 by the Yale Women's Leadership Initiative