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Yale Needs Women

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“If Yale was going to keep its standing as one of the top two or three colleges in the nation, the availability of women was an amenity it could no longer do without.” In the summer of 1969, from big cities to small towns, young women across the country sent in applications to Yale University for the first time. The Ivy League institution dedicated to graduating “one thousa “If Yale was going to keep its standing as one of the top two or three colleges in the nation, the availability of women was an amenity it could no longer do without.” In the summer of 1969, from big cities to small towns, young women across the country sent in applications to Yale University for the first time. The Ivy League institution dedicated to graduating “one thousand male leaders” each year had finally decided to open its doors to the nation’s top female students. The landmark decision was a huge step forward for women’s equality in education. Or was it? The experience the first undergraduate women found when they stepped onto Yale’s imposing campus was not the same one their male peers enjoyed. Isolated from one another, singled out as oddities and sexual objects, and barred from many of the privileges an elite education was supposed to offer, many of the first girls found themselves immersed in an overwhelmingly male culture they were unprepared to face. Yale Needs Women is the story of how these young women fought against the backward-leaning traditions of a centuries-old institution and created the opportunities that would carry them into the future. Anne Gardiner Perkins’s unflinching account of a group of young women striving for change is an inspiring story of strength, resilience, and courage that continues to resonate today.


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“If Yale was going to keep its standing as one of the top two or three colleges in the nation, the availability of women was an amenity it could no longer do without.” In the summer of 1969, from big cities to small towns, young women across the country sent in applications to Yale University for the first time. The Ivy League institution dedicated to graduating “one thousa “If Yale was going to keep its standing as one of the top two or three colleges in the nation, the availability of women was an amenity it could no longer do without.” In the summer of 1969, from big cities to small towns, young women across the country sent in applications to Yale University for the first time. The Ivy League institution dedicated to graduating “one thousand male leaders” each year had finally decided to open its doors to the nation’s top female students. The landmark decision was a huge step forward for women’s equality in education. Or was it? The experience the first undergraduate women found when they stepped onto Yale’s imposing campus was not the same one their male peers enjoyed. Isolated from one another, singled out as oddities and sexual objects, and barred from many of the privileges an elite education was supposed to offer, many of the first girls found themselves immersed in an overwhelmingly male culture they were unprepared to face. Yale Needs Women is the story of how these young women fought against the backward-leaning traditions of a centuries-old institution and created the opportunities that would carry them into the future. Anne Gardiner Perkins’s unflinching account of a group of young women striving for change is an inspiring story of strength, resilience, and courage that continues to resonate today.

30 review for Yale Needs Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    Sonia Sotomayor. Janet Yellen. Elizabeth Kolbert. Jodie Foster. Maya Lin. Angela Bassett. Anne Applebaum. Sigourney Weaver. Marian Wright Edelman. All of these notable women have gotten a leg up in life by attending Yale University. Applying to Yale may seem like a no brainer to top female high school students today, but as recently as fifty years ago, many top private universities only admitted men. With Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir stimulating the feminist revolution in the late 1960s, Sonia Sotomayor. Janet Yellen. Elizabeth Kolbert. Jodie Foster. Maya Lin. Angela Bassett. Anne Applebaum. Sigourney Weaver. Marian Wright Edelman. All of these notable women have gotten a leg up in life by attending Yale University. Applying to Yale may seem like a no brainer to top female high school students today, but as recently as fifty years ago, many top private universities only admitted men. With Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir stimulating the feminist revolution in the late 1960s, the closed door to women in prestigious universities was about to end. Anne Gardiner Perkins, a remarkable woman in her own right and the first female editor of the Yale Daily News, has written about the first female students at Yale in time for the event’s fiftieth anniversary. Yale Needs Women looks back at a pivotal moment in the history of higher education in the United States. Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Dartmouth have been known as the best of the best universities in the United States since their inception. Yet, for the entire time these universities opened their doors, the only students had been men. Yale prided itself on educating America’s future leaders and instilling a one thousand man quota plus twenty five extra each year. Notable graduates had included presidents, Supreme Court justices, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, and Wall Street executives; all men. In the world of eastern establishment gentleman’s clubs, only men were capable of being leaders of tomorrow. In the 1960s decade of turmoil coinciding with the fledgling women rights movement this was about to change. Yale President Kingman Brewster, Jr was a member of the eastern establishment. He believed that men and women operated in separated spheres of society, which in his eyes included higher education. Brewster received millions of dollars each year from male alumni, who he believed did not want Yale to open its doors to women. Students, however, wanted a change. A single sex environment did not mirror society as a whole, nor did the student mixers which brought in busloads of women from Vassar and Smith each weekend. Yale students desired co-education, and in 1969, Brewster relented, opening Yale’s doors to its first 230 female undergraduate students. Perkins centers the book around the experiences of five diverse students: freshmen Kit McClure and Lawrie Mifflin and sophomores Betty Spahn, Connie Royster, and Shirley Daniels. Yale had allowed women to enroll in its graduate programs for a number of years, yet even they felt isolated. By 1969, the year of Yale’s first undergraduate women enrollment, there were only two women tenured professors and no women in higher administration. In order to get a female perspective on female enrollment, President Brewster turned to Elga Wasserman to head the Co-Education committee. Wasserman held a PhD in chemistry but could not find a tenured position at any institution of higher education due to her gender, so she accepted Brewster’s overtures to lead the committee, as she wanted to be a voice for the women of the next generation. What Wasserman desired and Brewster supported, however, did not mesh, leading to friction between the two of them as Yale moved toward greater co-education in the years to come. More women students would not be for a number of years, and for the first year the 230 would suffice for Brewster, who did not really desire their presence in the first place. The passage of Title IX was still three years away. In 1969 Yale did not have any varsity sports for women nor any role for them on the university’s newspaper staff, choir, or senior secret societies. Mory’s club excluded women, yet Yale professors and administrators continued to conduct their business there. With only 230 women in the freshman class as well as 575 overall across the entire university, often times the women felt isolated. Yet, they made gains albeit small ones. Kit McClure joined the marching band as a trombonist. Lawrie Mifflin started a field hockey team that she hoped would eventually gain varsity status. Connie Royster majored in theater and starred in a number of plays. Betty Spahn anchored a Women’s Collective that met once a week and encouraged women to speak their minds and not feel so alone. Shirley Daniels became an active member of the Black Society at Yale and a member of its student board. While Kingman Brewster and his cronies still believed that only men were future leaders, the first women at Yale had other ideas. Perkins prose reads so quickly that I finished this book in one day. She discusses what happened in society as a whole including the Black Panther trial, Vietnam protests, Kate Millet and second wave feminism, and the passage of Title IX. All of these events played a role in eventually ending Yale’s one thousand man quota and making admission gender blind. I rooted for Perkins’ five pioneering students as well as Elga Wasserman to make changes to the eastern establishment. Along the way, readers meet other students and administrators, male and female, who left their mark on Yale’s push toward co-education. Whether it was chairing a student committee, signing a petition to end Mory’s single sex policy, working toward creating female varsity sports, or starting a female only band, the women in this book quickly showed President Brewster that they meant business and exhibited qualities that would make them members of America’s future leadership class. So much happened in the United States in the late 1960s: the Civil Rights Act, man walking on the moon, Vietnam, Woodstock. It is easy to overlook Ivy League schools opening their doors to women, yet this watershed moment allowed women to show their metal as America’s future leaders. Judging from the list at the opening of this review, Yale made the correct choice to go co-educational. Yale has been at the cutting edge of educating future award winners, politicians, and business leaders, both men and women, and for the last fifty years, women have proven that they are also up to the task as leaders of society. From 1988-2008, the President of the United States had been Yale educated. With Yale at the cutting edge of educating future leaders, perhaps one day a female president will join the list of notable female Yale alumna. 4+ stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Teodora

    This is a fabulous historical nonfictional work. Yes, Yale needs more women. Every top Uni out there needs more women. All the women they can get. And I do not exaggerate. It is not an exaggeration, it is something wonderful For everyone with feminist inclination, this actually might be an interesting nonfictional read. Just a bit of a mind-opener. Really shows that with the right materials, everyone can build beautiful things.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I was particularly interested in reading this book as I also found myself an unlikely pioneer in college......among the first women attending Washington and Lee University in 1985. We numbered only 100 of 1600 undergrads on campus. I found many similarities, not all of them positive, between my experiences and those of the women of Yale in 1969. This book is well-written and easily engages the reader with the lives of 5 women as well as many other figures at the university at that time. There ar I was particularly interested in reading this book as I also found myself an unlikely pioneer in college......among the first women attending Washington and Lee University in 1985. We numbered only 100 of 1600 undergrads on campus. I found many similarities, not all of them positive, between my experiences and those of the women of Yale in 1969. This book is well-written and easily engages the reader with the lives of 5 women as well as many other figures at the university at that time. There are some fascinating details, including the shadows of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war protests, looming among these students battling for equality in their secondary education. I think this book is a must-read for those interested in the evolution of university coeducation as well as women’s rights. We must study history, not ignore or destroy it, in order to learn how to better ourselves for the future. This is a great study in the history of American education.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    My great-aunt, so the story goes, entered graduate school in English at University of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. She dropped out after her masters as they would not allow a woman into the faculty lounge, where graduate seminars were held. Her three sisters taught high school and never married. Maybe that was their choice, although they would have lost their jobs if they had married. When I was preparing to head to graduate school in 1977, one of my father's students asked what I woul My great-aunt, so the story goes, entered graduate school in English at University of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. She dropped out after her masters as they would not allow a woman into the faculty lounge, where graduate seminars were held. Her three sisters taught high school and never married. Maybe that was their choice, although they would have lost their jobs if they had married. When I was preparing to head to graduate school in 1977, one of my father's students asked what I would do with my degree. My mother responded that I could "always get married." (She would never say this now.) Times have changed, but the change process has not always easy. It is difficult to embrace change for women when they are merely “the most prized piece of chattel in the college man’s estate” (p. 8). The status quo was stacked against women. In 1968, Yale had two tenured women – and 391 tenured men – on its faculty. Faculty and administration held meetings in a club that did not admit women, even as guests of members. When the first class of women at Yale was finally admitted (because male students preferred to attend a coeducational rather than a male-only school), women were only 18% of the freshman class and well less than that overall; they remained tokens. A 1970 American Council on Education study reported male high school students in the top fifth of their class had a 92% chance of being accepted by a selective US university; only 62% of top-ranked high school girls received acceptances. The "dean" of coeducation was given a meaningless title, insufficient power, and blocked at every turn. Women's dorms and bathrooms had insufficient safety measures. There were no women's varsity sports and no women were allowed in marching band or any of Yale's choirs. The Whiffenpoofs, Yale's premier singing group, did not admit women until 2018. At the same time that Yale was (sort of) considering coeducation and sex-blind admissions – and believing that women could not truly be leaders – future Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen was earning her PhD in economics and future UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ was earning hers in English; Hillary Rodham had been recently accepted at Yale Law; future Connecticut Supreme Court chief justice Ellen Peters was on the faculty; and future Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman had graduated six years earlier. The story of creating change at Yale was interesting. Protests. Building alliances and creating friends. Infiltrating the newspaper and marching band. Creating a field hockey team without resources. Challenging the club's liquor license. And, in the winning strategy, fighting from within by insiders. Yale Needs Women sounds like an interesting story, but dry. This is a fascinating story – smart, well researched, and well-written. Well done!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    An engrossing, detailed and frequently appalling account of the first years of coeducation at Yale, serving as a timely reminder of how very different the world was 50 years ago and how glacial was and remains the pace of change at the white male bastion that is Yale. Kingman Brewster in particular comes in for a large share of the opprobrium, I think deservedly and very much at odds with his popular image and memory. There are minor errors which don't detract from the narrative. No Yorkside Pizz An engrossing, detailed and frequently appalling account of the first years of coeducation at Yale, serving as a timely reminder of how very different the world was 50 years ago and how glacial was and remains the pace of change at the white male bastion that is Yale. Kingman Brewster in particular comes in for a large share of the opprobrium, I think deservedly and very much at odds with his popular image and memory. There are minor errors which don't detract from the narrative. No Yorkside Pizza in 1971!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I need more books like this!! I want to know this hidden and obscure history or more appropriate herstory that is not common knowledge!! I loved that this book was intersectional as well since Yale did have black women as well as white women attend in their first class. Yale Needs Women is the story of how Yale became a co-ed institution and the various obstacles that arose and how the first classes of women felt at Yale. This was such an intriguing narrator and to me, besides the women students I need more books like this!! I want to know this hidden and obscure history or more appropriate herstory that is not common knowledge!! I loved that this book was intersectional as well since Yale did have black women as well as white women attend in their first class. Yale Needs Women is the story of how Yale became a co-ed institution and the various obstacles that arose and how the first classes of women felt at Yale. This was such an intriguing narrator and to me, besides the women students, the unsung hero was Elga Wasserman. Her tenacity and spirit throughout the whole story was amazing and I'm so sad she didn't get the title she deserved. However, I am totally going to read The Door in the Dream: Conversations with Eminent Women in Science! There was so much going on in this book and I loved following the stories of each of these determined and passionate young women. My heart ached whenever they faced a setback, but I was so happy when they'd succeed. Every time I pick this book back up, I didn't want it to end. Hearing how the women's movement got started in the Yale area was so exciting and inspiring.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily Joy

    In this riveting book, Anne Gardiner Perkins presents the stories and history behind Yale’s decision to become coed and start accepting female undergraduate students in 1969, at a time when feminism, women’s lib, and activism was increasingly making the news. Yale Needs Women is one of the best works of feminist nonfiction I have ever read, set during an eventful time in American history. Focusing on the lives of five of the first female students at Yale, this book discusses the issues female st In this riveting book, Anne Gardiner Perkins presents the stories and history behind Yale’s decision to become coed and start accepting female undergraduate students in 1969, at a time when feminism, women’s lib, and activism was increasingly making the news. Yale Needs Women is one of the best works of feminist nonfiction I have ever read, set during an eventful time in American history. Focusing on the lives of five of the first female students at Yale, this book discusses the issues female students faced when they were often the only women in the room. I loved this book. It was everything I wanted it to be, and perhaps more. This book is a page-turner, and after I first picked it up, I couldn’t stop picking it up again to read more and more, finishing it in three days. The stories of all five women were varied and different and included many voices and experiences. I love narrative-driven nonfiction, and the women we follow in this book are a perfect mix to highlight life at Yale during this fascinating time in Yale’s (and America’s) history. In fact, that’s one of the things that I loved best about this book. Feminism is, of course, a big theme in this book, but it does not focus only on white feminism, and instead makes a point to showcase how black students did not feel represented by some of the white-led activism on campus, and shared how black female students were equally vocal and active in their efforts, including creating a seminar class that studied black women’s leaders and hosting the “Conference on Black Women” which featured Maya Angelou as a speaker. For much of the book, I was a little bit disappointed that there didn’t seem to be any mention of LGBTQ students, but was later happy to read that one of the five students comes out as a lesbian and becomes involved with other lesbian feminists outside of Yale. I was so excited! Perkins also wrote earlier in the book: "The gay women were there, of course, but the climate made sure most kept that identity hidden. Many aspects of sex at Yale went unseen in 1970. The presence of gay students was just one of them." Suffice to say, by the end, I was no longer disappointed in this book’s LGBTQ content. I loved this book, and while I try not to assign star ratings, this book is definitely a five-star book and well-worth reading. It’s engaging, informative, and educational. Especially pick this up if you have an interest in campus activism and second-wave feminism! I received this book via NetGalley for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    A few reviewers referred to Yale needs Women as a novel and it is not. This is an academic work although written in a very accessible style for the average reader. The book started as a graduate paper and morphed into a dissertation over time. Anne Gardner Perkins has a wonderful writing style for what could become dry material. Perkins really allows readers into the lives of several of the students and one administrator in particular. The author straddles the line nicely between fitting in the A few reviewers referred to Yale needs Women as a novel and it is not. This is an academic work although written in a very accessible style for the average reader. The book started as a graduate paper and morphed into a dissertation over time. Anne Gardner Perkins has a wonderful writing style for what could become dry material. Perkins really allows readers into the lives of several of the students and one administrator in particular. The author straddles the line nicely between fitting in the comprehensive detailed research she managed and making it interesting enough that someone mighty think it was a novel. As others have said, Yale needs Women was eye opening. It’s not a book for feminists only and I sincerely hope it doesn’t get classified as women’s studies and left there. This work deserves a wider audience. That first wave of women had a difficult time. They weren’t wanted by many, they were taken advantage of by many, endured discouragement and harassment in the name of a quality education. There are many sad chapters in our nation’s history and this is one. As a woman I am not always aware of the struggles of those who have gone before me to break down barriers and I really appreciated this research. My thanks to #NetGalley for this ARC of #YaleNeedsWomen

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Yale Needs Women by Anne Gardiner Perkins is a fabulous historical account (nonfiction) based on the first females that were accepted and lived on campus at Yale starting the summer/fall term of 1969. This is particularly interesting for anyone that is interested in female rights/liberties, how we have acquired what we have so far, and to gage how far we still need to go. It is fascinating (and honestly very sad) to see how difficult it was for these women to just want to have the same opportunit Yale Needs Women by Anne Gardiner Perkins is a fabulous historical account (nonfiction) based on the first females that were accepted and lived on campus at Yale starting the summer/fall term of 1969. This is particularly interesting for anyone that is interested in female rights/liberties, how we have acquired what we have so far, and to gage how far we still need to go. It is fascinating (and honestly very sad) to see how difficult it was for these women to just want to have the same opportunities and educational experiences as men, and how they were treated and probably overwhelmed doing so. This gives the positives as well as the cascade of repercussions of this monumental integration. A fascinating read. I was able to devour this gem in less then 2 days. 5/5 stars. Thank you NetGalley for this ARC and in return I am giving my unbiased and voluntary review. Thank

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cait

    I love books about feminism, I love books about higher ed, I love books that take a micro topic (the first cohort of women admitted to Yale) and use that to examine a macro topic (women’s place in higher ed from the 1960’s to today).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cindy H.

    This book which could have been a dry and overly academic drudgery was however, a riveting page turner. Anne Gardiner Perkins brilliantly captures the trials , disappointments and triumphs that a small band of women pioneered in the early days of coed education. Not only does Perkins cover the history of education at Yale but she skillfully weaves the early days of the equal rights movement, the tumultuous Vietnam war, the beginnings of the feminist movement, rape culture and the discrimination This book which could have been a dry and overly academic drudgery was however, a riveting page turner. Anne Gardiner Perkins brilliantly captures the trials , disappointments and triumphs that a small band of women pioneered in the early days of coed education. Not only does Perkins cover the history of education at Yale but she skillfully weaves the early days of the equal rights movement, the tumultuous Vietnam war, the beginnings of the feminist movement, rape culture and the discrimination against African Americans, Jews and other minorities. By following the lives of 5 women this book felt very personal and the nonfiction narrative became absolutely engaging. I highly recommend this book, this read would make for lively bookclub discussion. I listened on audio via Hoopla. Narration was wonderful.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth S

    Tightly woven, nuanced true history of five of the First Women who entered Yale College in the fall of 1969. Set during the turbulent 60s, with the Vietnam War protests, Black Panther trials, and the emergence of the Second Wave of Feminism, Perkins brings the era, and the lives of these young women to life. Perkins, herself a 1981 Yale graduate, Rhodes Scholar and PhD historian, was the first woman to serve as Editor in Chief of the legendary Yale Daily News. The saga of the women's field hocke Tightly woven, nuanced true history of five of the First Women who entered Yale College in the fall of 1969. Set during the turbulent 60s, with the Vietnam War protests, Black Panther trials, and the emergence of the Second Wave of Feminism, Perkins brings the era, and the lives of these young women to life. Perkins, herself a 1981 Yale graduate, Rhodes Scholar and PhD historian, was the first woman to serve as Editor in Chief of the legendary Yale Daily News. The saga of the women's field hockey team's journey to become the first women's varsity sport at Yale alone is worth the read. At times hilarious and others truly heartbreaking, Perkins writes with verve and style. (Disclosure. This reviewer is one of the five women portrayed in the book. In all likelihood that makes me a tougher audience.)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mayleen

    I chose this book to be one of two non-fiction books I would be discussing in my November Book Talk at my library. I found it fascinating and very informative. I devoured it in two days. Needless to say I was blown away when I attended the Library Journal Day of Dialog in October and who was there on a panel? Anne Gardiner Perkins! She was great (as well as the rest of the panel). I have been recommending the heck out of this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    "The phrase rankled, and some women liked to extend it: "one thousand male leaders and two hundred concubines," they would say to each other, underscoring what the tagline implied for their own status. The male undergraduates were the given, the nonnegotiable, the heart of Yale's mission. The women were add-ons." In 1969, Yale admitted the first 575 women into their undergraduate school - a quantity that meant the ladies were outnumbered by their male counterparts at a ratio of roughly 7:1. And w "The phrase rankled, and some women liked to extend it: "one thousand male leaders and two hundred concubines," they would say to each other, underscoring what the tagline implied for their own status. The male undergraduates were the given, the nonnegotiable, the heart of Yale's mission. The women were add-ons." In 1969, Yale admitted the first 575 women into their undergraduate school - a quantity that meant the ladies were outnumbered by their male counterparts at a ratio of roughly 7:1. And what was one of the primary reasons Yale president Kingman Brewster, Jr. decided to let these ladies in in the first place? Equality? Fairness? Guess again: by 1968, 40% of students accepted by Yale were choosing to go elsewhere, with a majority citing Yale's single-sex status as the reason. Essentially, he didn't want Yale's status to suffer. So these 575 ladies get admitted, and then life is all peaches and cream and rainbows for them, right? Not so much. These ladies had to deal with constant sexual harassment - even if that term hadn't been invented yet. There were no sports for women to play, only a "women's exercise" class. The Yale Wiffenpoofs, the most prestigious singing group at Yale, stated "it would make an inferior sound to have girls singing," and thus, wouldn't allow women in. Mory's club, where Yale professors would wine, dine, and conduct business meetings, was off-limits to ladies as well. Yale Needs Women primarily follows five women who were admitted in that first class of 575 - Kit McClure, the only female (reluctantly) allowed in the Yale marching band; Lawrie Mifflin, a field hockey enthusiast who wanted nothing more than to establish a female Varsity team at Yale; Connie Royster, a budding dramatist; Betty Spahn, a political activist; and Shirley Daniels, a leader in the Black Student Alliance at Yale. Although Yale Needs Women's principal focus is on, well, women at Yale, Perkins also weaves in a lot of events that were also happening at the time and impacted Yale life, such at the Black Panther movement, the Vietnam War, and abortion rights. This helped the reader get a more holistic sense of life at Yale, rather than just the slice of the fight to increase the number of ladies enrolled. I'm blown away that this book started out as Perkins's history dissertation and is her first book. If you just read "history dissertation" and equate that with "boring," you'd be oh so wrong in this case. Perkins writes in a style that grabs the reader's attention from page one and doesn't let it go until the story is wrapped up. As an avocado toast eating millennial, I had no idea that it was as recently as when my mother went to college that Yale wasn't enrolling women in their undergraduate program. So I found it fascinating to read about the plights of the first ladies as they paved the way for future generations. The amount of research and the thoroughness through which it is conducted is clearly evident. Basically, this book checks a lot of the boxes for me: well written, interesting, about a topic I knew little about going in, and relevant to conversations going on in the world today. Perkins writes in a non-ranty, tell-it-like-it-is manner that I didn't find off-putting like I've found with some other feminist books I've read as of late. I can already tell that Yale Needs Women will be sticking in my brain for a long time to come. I started talking this book up at a party I attended this past weekend, and I'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Go forth and pick yourself up a copy, stat! Thanks NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. "If Yale was going to keep its standing as one of the top two or three colleges in the nation, the availability of women was an amenity it could no longer do without." In the summer of 1969, from big cities to small towns, young women across the country se I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. "If Yale was going to keep its standing as one of the top two or three colleges in the nation, the availability of women was an amenity it could no longer do without." In the summer of 1969, from big cities to small towns, young women across the country sent in applications to Yale University for the first time. The Ivy League institution dedicated to graduating "one thousand male leaders" each year had finally decided to open its doors to the nation's top female students. The landmark decision was a huge step forward for women's equality in education. Or was it? The experience the first undergraduate women found when they stepped onto Yale's imposing campus was not the same one their male peers enjoyed. Isolated from one another, singled out as oddities and sexual objects, and barred from many of the privileges an elite education was supposed to offer, many of the first girls found themselves immersed in an overwhelmingly male culture they were unprepared to face. Yale Needs Women is the story of how these young women fought against the backwards-leaning traditions of a centuries-old institution and created the opportunities that would carry them into the future. Anne Gardiner Perkins's unflinching account of a group of young women striving for change is an inspiring story of strength, resilience, and courage that continues to resonate today. Yale didn't let in women until really late in the game .. yet they let in Dubya no questions asked?? (LOL). This was an interesting read, especially in the time right now of college admission scandals - mind you, how is that whole debacle different from wealthy alumni donating wings and buildings so that their not-s-smart or deserving kids can get in no questions asked??? Sometimes feminism backfires as shown in this book ... I am not a feminist (long story) but I have them in my family and I know my niece, for instance, would explode at the anti-feminism exposed in this book. It was an interesting read and the excellent research and points of view given by the author made it a totally enjoyable read. Anyone who works in education would enjoy reading this as would anyone who considers himself to be a feminist. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by Millennials on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 📜📜📜📜📜 NOTE: I cannot link this review to LinkedIn - there is something wrong with the linking/programming and it will not happen.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    In 1969 Yale University opened it's doors to women students for the first time. Yale was known for it's dedication to graduating "one thousand male leaders" each year, so admitting women was a huge step forward in women's equality in education. But, the first group of women admitted had a very different experience from the men - they were isolated, vastly outnumbered by men, seen as sexual objects and oddities, and barred from many of Yale's extracurricular activities. But, these first women at In 1969 Yale University opened it's doors to women students for the first time. Yale was known for it's dedication to graduating "one thousand male leaders" each year, so admitting women was a huge step forward in women's equality in education. But, the first group of women admitted had a very different experience from the men - they were isolated, vastly outnumbered by men, seen as sexual objects and oddities, and barred from many of Yale's extracurricular activities. But, these first women at Yale were determined to change Yale from the inside out and make a place for themselves. By the time the freshmen enrolled in Yale in 1969 graduated in 1973 more significant strides had been made, but there was still a long way to go for women to be seen as equals on college campuses, workplaces, and the world. As the author points out today we hear the sanitized version of equality like it happened overnight, but as this book shows the first women at Yale had a very hard struggle, but they knew it was worth fighting for and Yale Needs Women shares their stories. This book was AMAZING! Reading a book like this from today's perspective it's crazy to me to see just how blatant sexual harassment and assaults were and how the women were just used it - not happy, but used to it. Despite their struggles, it was so uplifting to hear the stories of how these women made huge changes to the culture of Yale just by their persistence. Yet another book of trailblazers and pioneers of feminism and women in America. Some quotes I liked: "The Film Society's decision to hold the porn fest at the same time as the Free Women Conference, just like the timing of its previous porn fest on the first day of Coeducation Week, was intended as a hilarious joke. Women's lib conference? We'll show them.." (p. 132) "Despite all the challenges the women students faced, they had outperformed their male classmates...Women sophomores and juniors received Honors, Yale's highest grade, in 31 percent of their classes, compared with 23 percent of the men. Freshmen women got 22 percent Honors, on par with freshmen men, but outflanked men 49 percent to 41 percent in High Pass, the second-highest mark." (p. 142) "But one power that Brewster [Yale's President] did not mention was perhaps the most important of all: the power to do nothing. As Kit McClure wrote in her diary after the Corporation's March 1970 vote to leave Yale's gender quota unchanged, 'The campaign for full coeducation has been stopped by the Yale Corporation's decision to ignore it.' If the goal is protecting the status quo, the best move by those in power is no move at all." (p. 188) "The work of leading coeducation at Yale carried with it a terrible sameness. Wasserman had to battle for each inch forward, and sometimes she even lost ground. But Elga Wasserman was a fighter, and even if the title at the bottom of her memos had not changed since 1969, she had increased her power at Yale and beyond...At a time when most Yale women employees were assigned invisible roles as secretaries and dining hall workers, Wasserman showed women an alternative. 'She was a female leader in a place where there were few of them,' said Linden Havemeyer. 'We were proud of her and glad she was there.'" (p. 249) "And on June 23, 1972, Congresswomen Patsy Mink and Edith Green got the victory they had long worked for. In one simple sentence, Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments to the Civil Right Act prohibited the gender discrimination that was rampant in U.S. colleges and universities when the first women undergraduates came to Yale: 'No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program receiving Federal financial assistance.' No one paid much attention to Title IX at the time it was passed. Few yet understood the extent of gender bias against women in America's colleges and universities. But in the decades that followed, Title IX would halt the gender quotas in admissions that had robbed women of their place in the nation's top schools." (p. 251) "Title IX began with its one elegant sentence, but then it included a list of institutions that were exempt from its provisions...But the very first exemption went as follows: 'In regard to admissions to educational institutions, this section shall apply only to...public institutions of undergraduate higher education.' In other words, private institutions of undergraduate higher education - Yale, for example, were exempt from Title IX's prohibition of discriminatory admissions policies...'Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard...were able to get a narrowly worded exemption for private undergraduate admissions.' The letters to Congress from these four powerful institutions, written in the fall of 1971 during the initial stages of the legislation's development, had succeeded...by the time Title IX passed in 1972, Congress had deferred to Yale's outrage over Edith Green's call for sex-blind admissions, and the final version of the law exempted Yale and the others from that one provision. The exemption still stands today." (p. 251-52) "On December 9, the Yale Corporation voted to abolish the gender quota that had shaped the first four years of coeducation at Yale. The announcement came with a simple statement: 'We believe that the gender of the applicant should not be the deciding factor in a candidate's admission.' Within five years, the percentage of women at Yale more than doubled to 46 percent. Other battles, both at Yale and beyond, still remained. But all through that year, 1972, the mountains had moved. Someday, they would do so again." (p. 263) "Two months after the Yale Corporation adopted sex-blind admissions, [Elga Wasserman] learned that she no longer had a job at Yale. Brewster terminated her special assistant position and gave all four of the new jobs she expressed interest in to other. Wasserman was left with nothing...Yet once again, Wasserman proved resilient. She enrolled at Yale Law School and received her law degree in 1976 at age fifty-two. Wasserman practiced family law in New Haven for the rest of her career and in 2000 wrote her first book, The Door in the Dream: Conversations With Eminent Women in Science. She died in 2014." (p. 274)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Gust

    While working on a PhD in History at the University of Massachusetts, the author had a light bulb moment about the first females at historically all-male Yale. The slightly more than 200 women admitted in 1969 as freshmen, sophomores and juniors had become a footnote in history but no one had ever told their stories. So she decided to do it. Yale Needs Women reminds us of how much has changed over the past 50 years as well as how little essential change has occurred. Those of us who came of age While working on a PhD in History at the University of Massachusetts, the author had a light bulb moment about the first females at historically all-male Yale. The slightly more than 200 women admitted in 1969 as freshmen, sophomores and juniors had become a footnote in history but no one had ever told their stories. So she decided to do it. Yale Needs Women reminds us of how much has changed over the past 50 years as well as how little essential change has occurred. Those of us who came of age in the bad old days of the 1960s and 1970s will identify with the struggles of the female undergrads at Yale. Despite being eminently qualified for admission and for the most part outperforming their male cohorts, they were treated as “lesser than” and simply ignored by most of the 99% all-male faculty. For the majority of their male classmates they were simply sexual targets. The university president, Kingston Brewster, Jr., reluctantly succumbed to pressure to allow coeducation in 1967 but only with the commitment to keep male admissions at a 7:1 ratio. He added no female faculty or female residence halls. In fact, they spread the new female undergraduates throughout the residences of the 12 colleges - minimizing the fellowship/sense of belonging that all-women residences might have produced. It also made them easier targets for harassment. I found this book enthralling to much a deeper extent than I had anticipated. I knew it would be interesting but Ms. Perkins' writing style is such that she transformed an extensive amount of data, including statistics, into a very palatable read. Besides delivering the information about the co-education transformation, she followed up on many of those first female coeds at Yale and other females involved in the process. All these decades later, the statistics for females in higher education faculty and administrative still lag greatly behind. This is a great read in my opinion because it deals with an important topic and highlights the harsh reception that these first Yale female undergrads were given. Fortunately, they were strong enough to carve a way for themselves and the coeds who followed them. It is not just for feminists - this is a great story of the human spirit that encompasses those who pioneer change as well as those who champion "tradition." I was given an advanced reader copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I received an ARC of this book from Bookbrowse.com in exchanged for a First Impressions review. In the fall of 1969, Yale admitted its first women - 575 of them - to its undergraduate college.The pressure came from male students who were selecting coed universities in preference to the all-male Yale, and the school feared losing its preeminence to other elite schools. So women were admitted -- and Yale thought it had done enough. As author Anne Gardiner Perkins (who entered Yale in 1977 herself) I received an ARC of this book from Bookbrowse.com in exchanged for a First Impressions review. In the fall of 1969, Yale admitted its first women - 575 of them - to its undergraduate college.The pressure came from male students who were selecting coed universities in preference to the all-male Yale, and the school feared losing its preeminence to other elite schools. So women were admitted -- and Yale thought it had done enough. As author Anne Gardiner Perkins (who entered Yale in 1977 herself) notes at the end of her book, the story typically told of what happened next was "... a sanitized tale of equity instantly achieved, as if all it took to transform these villages of men into places where women were treated as equals was the flip of an admissions switch. That is not what happened." Perkins, as research for her doctoral dissertation, interviewed 51 of the women in that first class, with particular attention to five of them, 2 black and 3 white. Using their stories she traces the first three years of Yale's coeducation experience from the women's point of view -- and it was not an easy life. They were discounted, disrespected, ignored, excluded and harassed --but they involved themselves in the life of the school in spite of all that and fought for increasing the number of women and improving the conditions under which they lived and studied. This book was of particular interest to me because I graduated from college in 1970, the same school year in which this story begins. I was in graduate school at University of Virginia in 1970/71, the first year women were admitted to the undergraduate college there, and taught at UVA in 1972/72, the first year a full class of women entered through the normal admissions process.The situations Perkins describes are familiar. She tells the story well. This book does an excellent job of charting the path women have followed over the past 50 years, at least with regard to academics. But as the end of the book indicates,while we have in fact come a long way, baby -- we aren't there yet.

  19. 5 out of 5

    HollyLovesBooks

    I really enjoyed this highly readable nonfiction account of the first class of women who were accepted to attend Yale University. This had been a long-standing, male only institution of higher education, only allowing the women on campus to work menial jobs or for short parties in order to try to arrange proper couples. This was part of what drove the push for inclusion of women, in that the "sister" institution was not convenient and therefore Yale was losing attendees to other schools who alre I really enjoyed this highly readable nonfiction account of the first class of women who were accepted to attend Yale University. This had been a long-standing, male only institution of higher education, only allowing the women on campus to work menial jobs or for short parties in order to try to arrange proper couples. This was part of what drove the push for inclusion of women, in that the "sister" institution was not convenient and therefore Yale was losing attendees to other schools who already had a more enticing co-ed policy. It was an interesting account of the lack of insight the men in charge had into even the basics that the women would need, requiring them to put a woman in place as Dean of Women's Education. And given that so much of the push to involve these highly qualified young women was about marriage to the men, the men were expecting the women to "be available" to them. Whereas, the women were looking for a great chance at the educational opportunity that was now offered. This book gives a great collection of insights into what that culture must have been like for both the women and the men. These are the growing pains faced at many universities around the same time when inclusion, be it gender or ethnic or racial, etc. was relatively new to shake up the status quo. And this was not that long ago. We have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go and this book helps to show the hurdles that Yale faced at the time. Really well done. Highly recommend. #YaleNeedsWomen #Netgalley #Sourcebooks

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Anne Gardner Perkins has done an amazing job with Yale Needs Women. This book tells the stories of some of the women in the first undergraduate class of women to be enrolled at Yale in 1969. It is so easy for us to think that women have always had an equal right to education as men did. This book shows the discrimination women received at Yale and how these women worked to overcome the obstacles they faced in sports, marching band, the school paper, safety on campus, and others. I was really imp Anne Gardner Perkins has done an amazing job with Yale Needs Women. This book tells the stories of some of the women in the first undergraduate class of women to be enrolled at Yale in 1969. It is so easy for us to think that women have always had an equal right to education as men did. This book shows the discrimination women received at Yale and how these women worked to overcome the obstacles they faced in sports, marching band, the school paper, safety on campus, and others. I was really impressed with the activism at Yale during the Vietnam and Roe vs Wade eras as well as the women’s rights era. Yale Needs Women should be required reading, especially for the younger generations, so they can see how far women have come, but also how difficult it was to get there. And also that women have not yet reached equality and so need to keep striving. I won a copy of this book from Bookreporter.com.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Previously an all-male enclave, Yale admitted its first women students in 1969. This book is a surprisingly compelling account of how that change came about and an account of some of the first women to be accepted there. They certainly didn’t have an easy ride, and prejudice against women from both faculty and students survived for quite a while. It’s hard now to remember those days and this is a timely reminder of how women have often had to battle for equal educational rights. The stories of s Previously an all-male enclave, Yale admitted its first women students in 1969. This book is a surprisingly compelling account of how that change came about and an account of some of the first women to be accepted there. They certainly didn’t have an easy ride, and prejudice against women from both faculty and students survived for quite a while. It’s hard now to remember those days and this is a timely reminder of how women have often had to battle for equal educational rights. The stories of some of those first students, and the trajectory their lives took, make for some fascinating reading, but after a while I found it all became a bit repetitious and I began to flag. Perhaps the book could have been a bit more condensed to retain the reader’s (or at least this reader’s) attention. Overall, however, an interesting and worthwhile read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanie Johal

    A very interesting (although frustrating) read I was worried this would be a whitewashed story (I didn't know whether any of the first women undergrads were also black), but 2 of the 5 primary students interviewed were black and their experiences on campus + in black activism were covered. The only voice missing was the Jewish experience? (the minority of/discrimination against Jewish students was only ever mentioned in conjunction with black students, but no individual Jewish experience was expl A very interesting (although frustrating) read I was worried this would be a whitewashed story (I didn't know whether any of the first women undergrads were also black), but 2 of the 5 primary students interviewed were black and their experiences on campus + in black activism were covered. The only voice missing was the Jewish experience? (the minority of/discrimination against Jewish students was only ever mentioned in conjunction with black students, but no individual Jewish experience was explored? idk if this was bc there was no Black Student Alliance equivalent for Jewish students at the time, so there wasn't the same easy narrative structure to tell that story?) Overall, a very informative read and would highly recommend if you're interested in the subject

  23. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    This is a fabulous book that follows four women who were in the first class at Yale. What I love about this book, is that in the same way poetry uses few words to state big and powerful ideas, Perkins gives us a scope of a turbulent time in our history that includes civil rights, women's movement, ecology and the Vietnam War, though the experience of these four women. I bought this for each of the millenials in my life, to help them understand how different it was to grow up female not too long This is a fabulous book that follows four women who were in the first class at Yale. What I love about this book, is that in the same way poetry uses few words to state big and powerful ideas, Perkins gives us a scope of a turbulent time in our history that includes civil rights, women's movement, ecology and the Vietnam War, though the experience of these four women. I bought this for each of the millenials in my life, to help them understand how different it was to grow up female not too long ago.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    The title of this fascinating book about the struggle to make Yale, one of the last bastions of men-only Ivy League schools in the 1960s and 1970s, is somewhat of a misnomer. While it was true that Yale needed highly qualified female students, most of Yale's faculty and male students didn't really want the young women there (unless they happened to be girls from Vassar College looking for dates on a Saturday night). The author adds human interest in her telling of this time of great social chang The title of this fascinating book about the struggle to make Yale, one of the last bastions of men-only Ivy League schools in the 1960s and 1970s, is somewhat of a misnomer. While it was true that Yale needed highly qualified female students, most of Yale's faculty and male students didn't really want the young women there (unless they happened to be girls from Vassar College looking for dates on a Saturday night). The author adds human interest in her telling of this time of great social change in the country, as readers meet and get to know the key players in this battle to make the campus truly co-ed. Give this one a try! -Louisa A.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I am one of the first women in Yale College. Fifty years ago it was impossible to really understand what was going on around us. There was no social media, no smartphone in our pocket, no internet with news at one's fingertips. We knew only what we happened to encounter. 1969-1973 at Yale was a tumultuous and chaotic time. Anne Perkins has recreated those years, but with the benefit of her meticulous research and great storytelling I now understand what was going on around me. I am astonished. A I am one of the first women in Yale College. Fifty years ago it was impossible to really understand what was going on around us. There was no social media, no smartphone in our pocket, no internet with news at one's fingertips. We knew only what we happened to encounter. 1969-1973 at Yale was a tumultuous and chaotic time. Anne Perkins has recreated those years, but with the benefit of her meticulous research and great storytelling I now understand what was going on around me. I am astonished. And I was there. You will be astonished too. Read this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rita Ciresi

    A reminder of how far--and how not-far--women have come in higher education, this book will appeal to anyone who has a vested interest in women's studies, academia, Yale, or the turbulent atmosphere in New Haven in the late 60s and early 70s.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    3 stars This review is based on an ARC ebook received for free from NetGalley. I am not being paid to review this book and what I write here is my own opinion. My rating scale is below. brief summary Drawing on first-hand interviews and numerous secondary sources, this eye-opening history follows five primary individuals and nearly a score of others involved in the tumultuous years of the late 1960s and early 1970s as Yale opens the doors of its hallowed halls to students of the fairer sex for the 3 stars This review is based on an ARC ebook received for free from NetGalley. I am not being paid to review this book and what I write here is my own opinion. My rating scale is below. brief summary Drawing on first-hand interviews and numerous secondary sources, this eye-opening history follows five primary individuals and nearly a score of others involved in the tumultuous years of the late 1960s and early 1970s as Yale opens the doors of its hallowed halls to students of the fairer sex for the first time. full review Perkins' research shines throughout this volume, blending seamlessly with the narration in such a way that the nonfiction read almost like a novel. Much like a novel, readers will have a hard time putting the sequence of events from their minds until they get to the end, and the prevailing attitudes of the time will linger for days and days after finishing, bringing sharper focus to the parallels with today's social climate. As a part of the Millennial generation, Yale Needs Women was eye-opening in much the same way New shoes was. It presents a version of the world which is so alien to my own experience that merely reading about the iniquities is almost like reading about a fictional dystopia. It is as enthralling as it is infuriating to read about the institutional foot-dragging and the casual misogyny presented herein. This book has the potential to appeal to a wide audience. Millennial readers such as myself will come a greater appreciation of the work put in to achieve gender parity, as well as the distance yet to be covered. Older readers may remember living through some of the cultural zeitgeists alluded to in the text. The opportunity for cross-generational conversations presented by this book are ample, and the subject matter itself is relevant, even fifty years later. This is a book to borrow, to lend, to gift, and to share. It would be a great book club choice. I would be confident in recommending it to just about any reader. rating scale 1 star - I was barely able to finish it. I didn't like it. 2 stars - It was okay. I didn't dislike it. 3 stars - It was interesting. I liked it. 4 stars - It was excellent. I really liked it. 5 stars - It was extraordinary. I really hope the author wrote more things

  28. 5 out of 5

    M

    As a Yale alum, I expected to this book to add some useful context to my recent time at Yale. I did not expect to be so enrapt in Anne Gardiner Perkins’ storytelling and so impressed by each students’ bravery and perseverance in the face of emotional, physical, and sexual assault that I was teary-eyed at nearly every page. The depth of Perkins’ research is impeccable. I could practically see every student’s face and the setting of every scene. Their experiences felt visceral and true, as they re As a Yale alum, I expected to this book to add some useful context to my recent time at Yale. I did not expect to be so enrapt in Anne Gardiner Perkins’ storytelling and so impressed by each students’ bravery and perseverance in the face of emotional, physical, and sexual assault that I was teary-eyed at nearly every page. The depth of Perkins’ research is impeccable. I could practically see every student’s face and the setting of every scene. Their experiences felt visceral and true, as they really were. These were the moments that shaped the next decades at Yale—my own short time there included. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Fascinating recounting of the first year of Yale admitting women! I was 11 years old in 1969 and my one of my older sisters was starting her freshman year at Virginia Tech, it was easy for me to go back in my mind to picture that time and to imagine how hard it was for those young women at Yale. I highly recommend!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Through interviews with female undergraduates who attended Yale in 1969 when it became a coed university, Perkins examines the many challenges these women faced. True pioneers.

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