Booked for Lunch: Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant


Join the Next Booked for Lunch Book Talk on Zoom!

“Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant”

With author Anne Gardiner Perkins

The news was so shocking that the New York Times ran it on the front page.

Yale, which had banned women undergraduates for the previous 268 years, was finally going coed. A student editorial praised Yale’s decision as a “personal triumph” for Yale President Kingman Brewster. And yet, had Brewster had his way, Yale would never have admitted women at all.  “Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant” will be the topic of a book talk by author Anne Gardiner Perkins on Thursday, January 28 from 12:30 – 1:30.  Part of the Booked for Lunch series on Zoom, the program will feature Ms.  Perkins and some of the students she interviewed for the book. The title recently won the 2020 Connecticut Book Award for Nonfiction.

“Yale Needs Women” tells for the first time the true story of the young women students who broke the gender barrier at Yale in September 1969. They came from all over the country: Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Boston, the Bronx. Few were prepared for what they found when they arrived. Based on five years of archival research and eighty oral histories, “Yale Needs Women” follows the story of five women students in particular—two black and three white—through the tumultuous early years of coeducation at Yale. 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 Needs Women’ is a riveting and uplifting account of the experiences of Yale’s early women coeds—first admitted in 1969.  It reveals the multiple barriers faced by these pioneers, as it chronicles their brave efforts to overcome them. Thanks to these champions of women’s rights, with similar efforts across the country, opportunities for women have improved. The fight is not over. This inspiring book is a “must read” for everyone.” — Janet L. Yellen, Former Federal Reserve Chair; Brookings Institution Distinguished Fellow.

“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 … In absorbing detail, Perkins describes the organizing efforts of those early years, from a protest by freshman women at an alumni lunch to the creation of advocacy groups like Women and Men for a Better Yale.”    — New York Times Book Review

About the Author:

Anne Gardiner Perkins is an award-winning historian and expert in higher education. She grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Yale University, where she won the Porter Prize in history and was elected the first woman editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News. Anne is a Rhodes Scholar who received her PhD in higher education from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She earned her master’s degree from Harvard, where she won the Littauer Award for academic excellence and served as a teaching fellow in education policy. Anne has spent her life in education, from urban high school teacher to elected school committee member, and has presented papers on higher education at leading conferences.

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