From the Editor

Recognizing women

A few alumnae worth remembering.

If you’ve gotten this far into your September/October Yale Alumni Magazine, you’ve likely noticed it has something to do with women. That is: it’s all about women. Yes, there’s a male basketball player in the sports section, and President Peter Salovey ’86PhD has his own page, and the new dean of the School of Engineering is a man. But almost everything else, from the nurse who served at the South Pole (page 12) to the 1969 undergraduates who dearly wanted to play field hockey (page 52), is feminocentric.

Personally, I am thrilled to be at Yale for this 2019–2020 joint anniversary: 50 years since Yale College admitted women, 150 years since a Yale school first admitted women. Our cover feature in this issue celebrates the 50th; we’ll mark the 150th with an issue about women from all the Yale schools. No one wants to write off men in favor of women. But recognition of women’s contributions and abilities still lags far behind that bestowed on men, and the Yale Alumni Magazine can do its bit to change that.

So I’ll start on the 150th with this list of exceptional Yale women of the past:

Sophie Bledsoe Aberle ’30MD (1896–1996): one of the two women first appointed to the National Science Board, she was an anthropologist and doctor who worked with Pueblo tribes.

Jane Bolin ’31LLB (1908–2007): the first black woman to graduate from the Law School and to serve as a judge in the US. She worked to eradicate racial and religious biases from childcare agencies and served on the board of the NAACP.

Sylvia Ardyn Boone ’79PhD (1940–1993): a noted scholar of African art and the first African American woman tenured at Yale. (Vera Wells ’71 established  a Sylvia Ardyn Boone Prize for work in African or African American art.)

Martha May Eliot (1891–1978): one of the first three women on the School of Medicine faculty and the first woman elected president of the American Public Health Association. She headed a World War II program that provided maternal care for 1.5 million US servicemen’s wives.

Eva Hesse ’59BFA (1936–1970): an acclaimed postminimalist sculptor whose work is displayed in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and has been exhibited posthumously around the world.

Grace Hopper ’34PhD (1906–1992): a rear admiral in the Navy, she was the third computer programmer in the world. She invented the compiler, essential software for modern computers. A Yale residential college now bears her name.

Gloria Naylor ’83MA (1950–2016): a novelist whose work The Women of Brewster Place won the National Book Award for a first novel and was serialized for television by Oprah Winfrey.

Helen Parkhurst ’43MA (1886–1973): the founder of The Dalton School and, at one point, director of the US Montessori schools. Her book Education on the Dalton Plan was translated into nearly 60 languages, and she won awards for her radio and television programs.

Wendy Wasserstein ’76MFA (1950–2006): a playwright whose The Heidi Chronicles won a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize, she was a professor at Cornell University.

There are many more, so please write in if you’d like to credit anyone else. In the meantime: feel free to drop one of these names offhandedly when you’re with friends. Let’s spread the recognition.

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