Anne Gardiner Perkins's new book highlights life at Yale University for first female studentsHistorians in the News
tags: Yale University, book review, Anne Gardiner Perkins, female students
But “Yale Needs Women,” Anne Gardiner Perkins’s lively and engaging account of the college’s first class of female students, shows that the reality was far more complicated. It was one thing to let women in the door; it was quite another to make them feel welcome, integrated and equally represented in Yale’s deeply entrenched male culture.
Among the women Perkins writes about are Connie Royster, whose aunt Constance Baker Motley was the first black woman to serve as a federal judge, and whose family worked as chefs and managers in Yale’s fraternities; Kit McClure, who played trombone and became a member of the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band; Shirley Daniels, who became active in the Black Student Alliance and focused on Afro-American studies; and Lawrie Mifflin, a field hockey player who struggled to establish a women’s team and went on to work at The New York Times as a reporter, editor and executive.
The challenges these women faced ranged from formidable hurdles like Yale’s “thousand male leaders” quota — under which more than 1,000 places were reserved for men and just 230 for women — to smaller indignities like a professor who wrote, across one assignment, “Not bad for a woman.”
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