A Timeline of Women at Yale

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September 1773

At graduation, Nathan Hale wins the “forensic debate” on the subject of “Whether the Education of Daughters be not without any just reason, more neglected than that of Sons.” One of his classmates wrote that “Hale was triumphant. He was the champion of the daughters and most ably advocated their cause.”

December 1783

Lucinda Foote, age twelve, is interviewed by Yale President Ezra Stiles who writes later in his diary: “Were it not for her sex, she would be considered fit to be admitted as a student in the freshman class of Yale University.”


The Yale School of Fine Arts, Yale’s first coeducational school, opens through the bequest of donors Caroline and Augustus Street. Alice and Susan Silliman, daughters of Benjamin Silliman, Jr., enroll in the first class.


Yale Law School accidentally admits its first female student, Alice Rufie Blake Jordan, who had applied using only her initials and was assumed to be a man. With the support of the Law School, but against the wishes of the Corporation, Jordan successfully completes her coursework and is awarded a degree a year later. After her graduation, the Corporation officially stipulates that courses are only open to men unless both sexes are specifically included. Women are not officially admitted into Yale Law School until 1919.


The Yale Graduate School admits women. 23 enroll.


For the first time, Yale awards Doctor of Philosophy degrees to women. At the 1894 Commencement, 7 of the 21 PhD degree recipients are women. Two become professors at Vassar, two at Smith, one at Wellesley, and one is for many years a top researcher in Yale’s astronomy department.


Florence Bingham Kinne in the Pathology Department, becomes the first female instructor at Yale.


First Honorary Degree awarded to a woman, Jane Addams, the developer of the settlement house movement in America and head of Chicago’s Hull House.


Women are admitted to the Yale School of Medicine. Four years later, Louise Whitman Farnam receives the first medical degree awarded to a woman: she graduates with honors, wins the prize for the highest rank in examinations, and is selected as YSM commencement speaker.


Helen Robertson Gage becomes the first woman to graduate with a Master’s degree in Public Health.


Women are first hired in the college dining halls.

Catherine Turner Bryce, in Elementary Education, becomes the first woman Assistant Professor.


The Yale School of Nursing is established under Dean Annie Goodrich, the first female dean at Yale. The School of Nursing remains all female until at least 1955, the earliest date at which a man is recorded receiving a degree at the school.

The Drama School also opens that year, immediately admitting women.


Otelia Cromwell is the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from Yale, a PhD in English.


Women are admitted to the Yale Divinity School.


Grace Murray Hopper receives her PhD in Mathematics from Yale.


The first two women graduate from Yale Divinity School.


Alice Elizabeth Chase becomes Instructor in the History of Art and the first woman appointed to teach male undergraduates at Yale.


First woman receives tenure, Professor Bessie Lee Gambrill in the Department of Education.


Arthur Howe, Jr., the new Dean of Admissions, advocates for the admission of women to Yale College in order to raise the academic level of the student body, attract outstanding students who prefer coeducational schools and reduce the disintegration of the Yale community on weekends as students visit far away women’s colleges.

President Griswold placates the angry alumni with a limerick that turns the idea of coeducation into a joke:
“ ‘By keeping in step with the male, We proceed at the pace of a snail,’ said the Dean of Admissions, ‘Let’s shift our positions, And get some fast women at Yale.’ ”

February 1957

The Yale School of Divinity opens Porter Hall, the first building to be constructed at Yale specifically as a residence for women. It is named for Professor Frank C. Porter and his wife, Delia Lyman Porter, who was quite active in the life of the Divinity School.

November 1957

Anne Morissey, a senior at Cornell who is sports editor of the Cornell student newspaper, is the first woman to enter the Press Box at the Yale Bowl in order to cover the Yale- Cornell game (which Yale wins).


Helen Hadley Hall opens as the first residence hall for women graduate and professional students.


Mary Clabaugh Wright becomes the first woman to receive tenure in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.


Marie Boroff becomes the second woman to be tenured in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Pauli Murray JSD ’65 becomes the first African American to receive a doctorate from Yale Law School.


Women are admitted to the Yale School of Forestry, which had been founded in 1900, and which was the last of the professional schools to admit women.

March 1966

The Yale Corporation announces that it is in favor of finding a women’s “coordinate college” to address the issue of coeducation. Yale begins serious conversations with Vassar that nearly result in Vassar selling its Poughkeepsie campus and moving to New Haven. Vassar ultimately rejects the proposal, deciding in favor of accepting men into Vassar in the spring of 1969.


The Brewster administration considers various plans for coordinate college coeducation, including finding a sister school in New Haven - or even on the West Coast.

September 1968

President Kingman Brewster, Jr. distributes a memorandum entitled “Higher Education for Women at Yale” among members of the Corporation and key faculty committees. It is met with questions: “Brewster’s memorandum takes for granted the desirability of bringing women to Yale. The main difficulty of introducing women to Yale is not the question of coeducation versus coordinate arrangements, but the matter of finding a donor who will commit at least $30 million to the enterprise…The choice in large part will depend upon the preferences of the donor.”

October 1968

Nancy Altman, first year student at Albertus Magnus and wife of Jeffrey Altman ’71 and “acting secretary” of the Trumbull College Council, petitions the University to allow all undergraduates’ wives to take courses (the policy only allows wives of seniors). A response to Altman argues that Yale should not let a husband’s choice of wife determine which women should go to Yale.

Ten presidents of single-sex liberal arts colleges hold a semi-secret meeting at Smith to discuss coeducation, but Yale is not invited.

At the October 4th meeting of the Yale College faculty, Dean of Admissions R. Inslee Clark remarks that attracting applicants would be easier if Yale were coed. The faculty applauds his remarks.

The Yale chapter of Students for a Democratic Society presents a demand for immediate coeducation to Assistant to the President Henry Chauncey. Chauncey responds with a reminder of the University’s dedication to continue producing the same number of male leaders (1,000) each year.

The Student Advisory Board’s Committee on Student Life proposes “Coeducation Week,” a plan to bring 500 college-age women to campus. Fifty students from secret societies, Dwight Hall, and Students for a Democratic Society organize an ad hoc committee for Coeducation Week to promote dialogue, and demonstrate student interest in the coeducation debate.

The administration and college masters approve Coeducation Week. They are in agreement with Aviam Soifer ’69, who works to organize the event. Soifer says: “To make a valid decision about what women want in a coeducational school, it seems logical to talk to women about it.”

November 1968

The Yale Corporation secretly votes in favor of full coeducation, or accepting women into Yale College, in the fall of 1969.

On November 4th, Coeducation week commences. 750 women from 22 colleges arrive on campus. In the middle of the week, students hold a spontaneous rally, Marching to President Brewster’s home to demand full coeducation.

On November 14th, President Brewster announces his coeducation plan to the faculty, who vote 200 to 1 in favor of coeducation. Brewster walks straight from

Connecticut Hall to the Trumbull College Dining Hall to announce to the students that Yale will be coeducational by the next fall. When he asks the Trumbull men to cede their college to the 250 incoming freshman women, the men refuse. They demand that the women be divided equally among the colleges.

The next day, President Brewster announces publicly that Yale will enroll 500 women next September – 250 freshmen and 250 transfer students. At the time, he states that the transfer students will be housed off- campus while freshmen will be housed in one of the 12 residential colleges. However, the Office on the Coeducation of Women ultimately decides to place the freshmen women in Vanderbilt Hall and to house transfer women in one entryway in each of the colleges.

Brewster announces that the Planning Committee on Coeducation will be chaired by Elga Wasserman, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School.

On teaching all-male classes: “Until society makes its role assignments equal, I can’t help feeling a deeper satisfaction and sense of accomplishment teaching all-male classes. As a professor, I feel a greater sense of accomplishment when I direct my efforts toward those who will one day have a greater role in society—men.” (A professor anonymously quoted in the Yale Daily News, 11-8-68.)

The “critical mass” in terms of the distribution of women throughout the colleges is determined by the Planning Committee on Coeducation to be 50 women per college, composed of 30 transfers and 20 freshwomen.

Hundreds of prospective female applicants flood the admissions office with letters and phone calls. A New York Times headline reads, “Yale Besieged by Female Applicants.”

December 1968

Associate Director of Financial Assistance, John Q. Wilson, says that in terms of financial aid, Yale has a “basic commitment to men.” Women and men will not be treated equally with respect to financial aid.

The New York Times reports that “A Radcliffe dormitory at Harvard is applying as a unit for admission to Yale next year…to end the frustrations of semi-coeducation.”

January 1969

Addressing admissions practices, President Brewster says, “all other things being equal, there will be some preference given to an alumni daughter.”

February 1969

Payne Whitney Gymnasium (PWG) announces it will have hours Friday evening and Saturday afternoons, as well as 7–9 PM week nights, when the gym will be open to both sexes. Members are advised to wear clothes after 6:30 PM. PWG intends to provide all day use for both sexes the following year.

April 1969

Jokes about the looks of women are popular. Dean of Admissions R. Inslee Clark responds by declaring that the beauty of an applicant is not important except in contributing to the “attractiveness” of the applicant as a whole.

On motives behind coeducation: “the decision to have women in 1969 was based not on Yale’s seeing her mission as the education of both sexes, but on fears that Yale cannot continue to attract the nation’s top males to a non-coeducated campus.” Paul Taylor, reporter for the Yale Daily News.

One week before acceptance letters are delivered, a widely-cited article by Jonathan Lear ’70 in The New York Times Magazine characterizes the admitted women as “superwomen” and “the female versions of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch.” The “superwomen” epithet lingers for years.

278 women are admitted for the class of 1973 for a target class of 240 women. 370 female transfer students are accepted: 212 for the class of 1971, and 158 in the class of 1972.

2,800 women had applied to the freshman class resulting in a 10% acceptance rate, which was unheard of at the time.

Elga Wasserman, chair of the Planning Committee on Coeducation, estimates that coeducation will cost $1.5 million, not the $55 million Brewster cited earlier in the fall. The cost will be paid mostly by the “girls” in tuition fees.

Rather than add residential space, plans were made to house women in existing college spaces by increasing the number of occupants per room. Cosmetic touches – fresh paint, brighter lights – were to be the chief modifications in entryways designated for women.

Yale overwhelms Radcliffe in the competition for women in the Class of 1973; of women admitted to both colleges, 60 accepted Yale and 35 accepted Radcliffe.

May 1969

230 women decide to join Yale’s Class of 1973, including 26 of the 34 black women admitted. 358 women admitted as transfers accept, including 16 black women. The target rate of 540 women is exceeded by 48 women, which will cause a housing crunch – and also put more pressure on the University to facilitate coeducation

The department of University Health announces that a gynecologist will be available for undergraduate women and will be authorized to prescribe birth control.

Twelve female graduate and professional school students are appointed to be assistants to college masters. Twelve are appointed as freshman counselors for women.

September 1969

Yale opens its doors to the first female undergraduates.

Between September 12th and 14th undergraduate women students arrive on campus. At the time, 48 of 817 FAS faculty are women; only two have tenure.

Although campus buildings generally allow open access, a guard was installed in the main entryway to Vanderbilt Hall, which houses freshman women.

On September 15th Amy Solomon is the first female to register for freshman classes. President Brewster makes his opening address to the first freshperson class at Yale to include women. The “two things most obviously on everyone’s minds on this opening day are women and campus violence.” He says he is “very much for the former and very much against the latter.”

Payne Whitney Gym is now open to women and, “only a few of the gym’s facilities remain segregated.” The gym adds certain classes to accommodate the “coeds:” modern dance, figure skating, synchronized swimming, and ballet - but no provisions have been made to establish women’s athletic teams. When women enquire, they are asked to form the teams themselves and find their own coaches. Martha Aly is named “girls” athletic director.

A woman who had joined the JE men’s soccer team – for lack of a women’s equivalent – is asked by the JE Master to resign “for the good of the college.”  Her teammates are told they will automatically forfeit games in which she plays.

Controversy arises as to whether “girls” should pay the same social fees as “men.” The women object to fees being used to bus in women from other schools on weekends. The administration  denies this, stating that the funds only go towards bands and beer. Ezra Stiles announces a new pledge to serve wine punch “in deference to feminine taste.”

Mory’s policies allow women to enter the facility for dinner as “guests” when accompanied by a Yale man; however, the club , which played an outsize role in campus social life of the era, will not accept women as members or allow them to enter during the day even when accompanied. The few women faculty at Yale cannot attend departmental lunches or other daytime meeting with their colleagues. “Mory’s has been a men’s club for over 100 years, and we hope to keep it a men’s club for as long as it is possible to do so” according to management.

The Yale Slavic Chorus, is founded, the first all-female singing group on campus. The New Blue is founded the same year.

Despite a greater than 7:1 ratio of men to women on campus, an article in the Yale Daily News entitled “Coeds Still Untouched?” reports that according to a poll of 117 Vanderbilt  freshman  women,  26%  had  no  dates the previous weekend. Some Yale men describe the

freshwomen as “scared and unfriendly…a bunch of nuts, but you don’t have to worry about them cornering you.” The record number of dates was six in two days.

October 1969

Betsy Thomas is appointed “Dean of Women.” However, she explains that she is supposed to help with all freshman problems.

Carol Christ, then a graduate student in English (later President of Smith College and then Chancellor of UC Berkeley) writes to Brewster et al. questioning whether Yale believes women will be leaders too, or whether it’s only the “1,000 male leaders” they hope to continue graduating. Some undergraduates joke that Yale will produce 1,000 male leaders and 250 housewives a year.

Saint Anthony Hall donates $100,000 for women’s scholarships.

November 1969

Jan Costelle is the first female to win a place on the Yale debate team.

December 1969

The results of an informal survey of Yale women show that out of 158 responses, the major issues noted are difficulty in establishing friendships with other women because there are so few of them, overcrowding and lack of privacy, and lack of dating.

Ezra Stiles, Morse, and Saybrook colleges decide to put locks on all of the women’s bathrooms after repeated intrusions by Yale men. The most recent incident involves an intruder with a knife. A proposal is also being considered to group women by floor rather than by entryway to make them harder to find. This would also make it easier for women to meet other women.

The first issue of the Yale Break comes out. It is a newspaper published by the New Haven Women’s Liberation and is intended to be a forum for all women at Yale, including faculty and staff, as well as students, to “speak out.”


“Topics in Human Sexuality” is offered for the first time in Battell Chapel by the Department of University Health Services. It has an enrollment of 1,000, 20% of which is female.

When Anne Coffin Hanson joins the faculty as full professor - the first woman to be hired with this rank - only two of Yale’s 363 full professorships are held by women.

February 1970

The Committee for Full Coeducation has its first meeting. A major platform of the committee is to persuade Yale to accept the best applications regardless of their sex for the class of 1974.

Forty female undergraduates enter an alumni event in Commons to protest the University’s 7:1 male-female ratio. President Brewster acknowledges that the complaints are valid, but reaffirms Yale’s commitment to produce 1,000 male leaders every year.

April 1970

Brenda Jubin, an Instructor and PhD candidate, is named the first woman dean of a residential college.

First semester undergraduate grades show that, overall, women did better than men.

May 1970

May Day at Yale: 4000 national guardsmen, with tanks and tear gas, and demonstrators from around the country converge on Yale and New Haven to rally in support of Black Panther leaders who were being tried in New Haven. Yale women and men provide volunteer staffing to house and feed protesters throughout the tense weekend.

August 1970

John Hay Whitney donates $15 million for construction of student housing to alleviate the overcrowding which has accompanied the advent of coeducation.

Four women and eleven men, all undergraduates, stage a peaceful sit-in in one of the male-only sections of the Yale Club in New York City.

A childcare center for the children of Yale staff opens.

September 1970

The second year of undergraduate coeducation at Yale begins. It is the first year with women in all four classes.

October 1970

Twenty women meet and discuss their lives at Yale. Issues raised include the need for career guidance seminars, forming a rock band, raising consciousness and giving emotional support, and the desire for more women’s classes. The group names itself the “Sisterhood.”

Residential college “Social Chairmen” decide to reduce the number of mixers, due to decreased student interest. “A lot of people have decided that the cattle market mentality of a mixer is pretty perverse,” Elliot Alazraki tells the Yale Daily News.

November 1970

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare investigates a number of Ivy League institutions, including Yale, for sex discrimination in the faculty hiring process as a result of complaints filed by the Women’s Equity Action League and the National Organization for Women.

Harvard Glee Club refuses to let the Yale Glee Club women sing at Harvard with the Harvard all-male glee club during The Game Concert. The Yale Glee Club does not participate, as it refuses to sing without its women members.

December 1970

The University Committee on Coeducation recommends admission of 800 men and 400 women to the class of 1975. The Committee quotes Elga Wasserman’s report stating that life at Yale suffers with the present ratio, “How Yale treats women in its own community affects how women students view their own futures.” More women faculty and administrators are recommended as well.

“The Chubb Conference on The Black Woman” is held on December 12th and 13th — the first time the Chubb Fellowship has been given to women. Chubb Fellows Shirley Graham DuBois, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Henrik Clarke, and Maya Angelou are featured in the conference.

The Sisterhood organizes a rally on Beinecke Plaza to demand full coeducation. 100 people attend; 1930 students sign a petition.

January 1971

500 Women in state-wide organizations based in New Haven challenge Connecticut abortion law in federal court, calling the anti-abortion law unconstitutional.

Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL) submits a formal charge of sex discrimination against Yale to the Department of Health and Welfare related to its status as federal contractor, citing the small proportion of women faculty members. According to Yale Daily News statistics, there are only two tenured women teaching in Yale College and three female full professors at the University. Only 7% of assistant professors are women and no associate professors are women.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) attacks Yale Medical School Admissions for “anti-female attitudes” during the interviewing process and in final admissions.

February 1971

Nancy Kaplan ’72 is named the first female manager of a varsity sport. Her appointment begins as a joke when team members state that they want “a girl” manager and one wrestler asks Kaplan if she is interested. Kaplan’s appointment causes a stir in the Yale Athletic Board, which “frowns” on female managers. The board resolves its dilemma by officially naming Kaplan “Statistician” and asking her to watch practices from the balcony to avoid injury, a place which Kaplan quickly abandons once practice begins.

March 1971

Sue Bennet fights to become the first woman admitted to the Yale Bartending Course with the help of Elga Wasserman.

April 1971

Yale announces the decision to increase the number of women in the class of ’75 by forty-five.

Secret societies Book and Snake, Manuscript, Berzelius, and Elihu and fraternity society St. Anthony Hall accept women.

May 1971

Marian Wright Edelman, LAW ’63, a public interest lawyer, and Hanna Holborn Gray, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago, are the first women to be named to the Yale Corporation.

On June 14th, Yale’s first cohort of women undergraduates, transfer students in the class of 1971, graduate.

September 1971

The first Yale Daily News headline of the school year runs: “Provost Charles Taylor Issues New Pledge to Recruit Women Faulty.” All twelve of the new professors hired over the summer are men.

Katherine Lustman-Findling becomes acting Master of Davenport College when her husband, the former Master Seymor Lustman, dies shortly after his appointment as Master.

The Women’s Advocate Group, headed by Elga Wasserman, is formed.

October 1971

“Trumbull Women Barred from Intercollege Soccer” for “reasons of health,” by Delaney Kephuth, Director of Athletics, who explains that: “Boys take it for granted that there will be injuries incurred from contact sports. But the idea of dislocating a girl’s pelvis is not desirable.”

November 1971

Five members of the Undergraduate Admissions Committee send a letter to the Provost regarding the “frustration imposed by the present quotas for men and women.” They write: “Again and again we had to withhold admissions from women who were more compelling candidates.” The quotas for the year are 1025 men, 250-325 women per class.

March 1972

The US Senate and House approve a bill denying Federal funds to colleges that discriminate against women. This law—“Title IX”—gives the schools 7 years to “fully coeducate.” 32 million dollars, or one quarter of Yale’s annual budget, comes from Federal funding, making the university subject to this law. Elga Wasserman, head of Women’s Advocate Group, expresses doubts about Yale’s ability to meet these standards under its current policies.

April 1972

The Connecticut law banning abortion is struck down.

The number of Women’s Study courses to be offered in the next academic year will increase from one to ten.

The Dahl Committee releases its report on coeducation at Yale, which recommends that “admission to Yale College should be granted on the basis of qualification without regard to sex,” and also, that enrollment not be increased.

May 1972

The Morse Oarswomen become the first all-female intramural team.

New York Times reports that the Yale Club of New York City will renovate its lobby to do away with the “female only” areas. For years, the Yale Club had had a separate side entrance for women who were not allowed to enter through the main door.

July 1972

Women’s Squash, Tennis, and Field Hockey teams are the first women’s teams elevated to Varsity status.

November 1972

Yale women hang a large banner in response to the influx of female dates on weekends: “HAPPINESS IS NOT IMPORTABLE.”

December 1972

The faculty tables a decision on the sex-ratio question. Many alumni continue to oppose reducing the number of male students, but the Association of Yale Alumni officially endorses a 60-40 ratio. The faculty then votes to approve a recommendation of sex-blind admissions. Finally, the trustees eliminate sex quotas and vote to accept more women for the fall of 1973 and eventually seek a 60-40 balance of male and female students.

February 1973

The office of Special Assistant to the President for Education of Women is disbanded. Elga Wasserman goes on to earn her law degree from Yale Law School.

March 1973

Yale announces that it expects to hire three female professors this year.

June 1973

The first class of women who came to Yale as freshmen graduate, 177 of the original 230 female freshmen.

Twelve women from the class graduated early in 1972 and a number enrolled in the five-year BA program.

September 1973

University of Chicago Professor Hanna Holborn Gray is appointed University Provost. President Brewster strongly supports the appointment.


Rosemary Stevens, Professor of Public Health, becomes the first female master of a residential college to be appointed in her own right. She oversees Jonathan Edwards College.

January 1974

Anne Coffin Hanson, a History of Art professor, is named the first female department chair at Yale.

Yale reports that it is receiving an increased number of female applicants who are older women dissatisfied with their marriages or with their boring secretarial jobs.

Yale adopts sex blind admissions.

March 1974

Only 32% of the applicants for the class of 1978 are women, dashing any hopes for an immediate 60-40 ratio.

Mory’s, after a protest that has spanned years and included the loss of its liquor license in 1972, finally admits women as members, accepting all 160 freshman membership applications, 80 of them female.

November 1974

The Yale Women’s Caucus is established.

Ella T. Grasso becomes Connecticut’s first woman governor.

September 1976

“Women’s-words” is founded to publish writing on women’s ideas, problems, and experiences. The journal is a response to what its founders consider inadequate representations of women’s issues in student publications. They welcome submissions by “feminists, men, and women with a different perspective.”

Yale Daily News headline reads: “Oarswomen bare all.” Twenty of the twenty-one members of the women’s crew team March into the office of Joni Barnett, Director of Women’s Activities, strip, and stand with the words “Title IX” written across their chests and backs while their captain reads a statement protesting the lack of locker room facilities for women at the Derby boathouse. The immediately infamous “Title IX strip” brings not only a trailer with four showers for the team but also national press coverage.

January 1977

Sue Halpern ’77 and Sarah Deutsch ’77 become two of the thirteen women awarded Rhodes Scholarships in the first year the scholarships are awarded to women.

September 1977

The gender ratio of faculty continues to be skewed: 5% of female professors are tenured, while 50% of their male counterparts are.

Provost Hanna Holborn Gray begins her term as acting President of Yale University after the resignation of Kingman Brewster and serves until the appointment of A. Barlett Giamatti. Later, she becomes president of the University of Chicago.

October 1977

Though still in the process of becoming a program of study, Women’s Studies offers its first course, “Feminism and Humanism: An Introduction to Women’s Studies,” taught by Catharine Mackinnon. Forty students enroll.

November 1977

The Women’s Caucus successfully works to set up a “Woman’s Space” in Hendrie Hall, which includes a home for the Yale Women’s Forum, Center for Third World Women, and Yalesbians. It also pushes for a major in Women’s Studies. The Woman’s Space opens the following March.

January 1978

Lisa Brachman becomes the first female president of the Yale Political Union.

February 1978

The Dean’s Office forms an advisory committee on sexual harassment grievance procedures to consider ways to deal with student complaints of sexual harassment.

The committee leads to the establishment of the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board one year later.

Law School Professor Ellen Ash Peters, LAW ’54 is appointed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, making Peters the first woman on that court. It is also the  only time since the turn of the century that a Yale Law professor has been chosen to serve on the state Supreme Court.

December 1978

The Athletic Department institutes a new rule designed to include more women on intramural athletic teams. Only 25% of Yale women participate in intramurals, compared to over 50% of men.

The Yale Daily News editorial board rejects a Playboy ad soliciting women to appear in the magazine’s “Girls of the Ivy League” issue. Two days later, the business board decides to run the ad when the publisher of the Yale Daily News says the paper can’t deny Playboy the freedom they allow other advertisers. The editorial board discourages any female student from modeling for the magazine and encourage Yale students to boycott the Ivy League Issue.

The Women’s Caucus holds a demonstration to protest the Playboy solicitation of campus models. Ultimately, nine Yale women are chosen to pose from over 100 applicants nationwide, resulting in national news coverage, including the appearance of four of the women on cover of Time magazine.


Women’s Volleyball wins the 1979 Ivy League Title. However, it is cut from varsity to club level, losing coaching, trainers, funding, and use of the amphitheater for home games. The athletic department defends its decision by stating that varsity volleyball is “too expensive” and conflicts with the basketball season for use of the amphitheater.

January 1979

The Yale Daily News runs an article on new abortion services at University Health Services, citing a positive, supportive atmosphere. Yale Health Plan subscribers previously obtained abortions at the Yale-New Haven Hospital abortion clinic.

April 1979

The faculty unanimously approve Associate Dean Judith Brandenburg’s grievance procedure committee proposal to establish a formal procedure to handle sexual harassment complaints.

May 1979

The Women’s Studies Program is approved as a permanent part of the Yale curriculum, after a ten- year evolution from a handful of courses to a coherent program. With the acceptance of Women’s Studies, other departments increase courses focusing on women.

Sara Mathilthe Lord ’79 becomes the first woman to win the Alpheus Henry Snow Prize.

September 1979

Female enrollment reaches 46% of freshman class.

October 1979

Anne Perkins ’81 is elected the first female editor-in- chief of the Yale Daily News. In February of 1980, she publishes a column about the disjunction she feels between her treatment as a woman and the power of her position.

February 1980

Aurora, a feminist magazine at Yale, which is no longer in print, publishes its first issue.

Alexander v. Yale: Ronni Alexander, Ann Olivarius, Pamela Price, Margery Reifler and Lisa Stone sue Yale for sexual harassment. Though they lose at trial, it is one of the most cited sexual harassment cases.

The Yale Women’s Center moves to its current home in the basement of Durfee Hall.

March 1981

The Yale administration announces a plan to relax the policy that states that women should not live on the first floor of residential colleges.

April 1981

Whim-n-Rhythm, the new senior women’s singing group designed to be the female equivalent of the Whiffenpoofs, holds its first concert.

Maya Ying Lin ’81, is chosen as the designer of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C after a national contest entered by hundreds, including several of her professors in the School of Architecture.

July 1981

Pictures of women’s team captains first grace the walls of Mory’s.

November 1981

The Women’s Studies Major is approved by the faculty. Questioning Women’s Studies as an academic pursuit, an English professor submits a mock-proposal to the entire faculty for a “Department of Grossness” and voices his doubt about the program.

April 1982

The first GLAD (Gay-Lesbian Awareness Days) Week takes place on the Yale campus.

Of the 175 chaired professorships at Yale, four are held by women.

The Yale Daily News reports that Yale’s black student body consists of approximately 40% more women than men; causing black women to wonder whether the admissions office is trying to “kill two birds with one stone” by accepting a student who is both black and female.

May 1982

Elizabeth Alexander, class of ’84, chastises the Yale Daily News for neglecting to cover the Black Women Writer’s Conference, whose panelists included Alice Walker.

The first and last Annual “Daughters of Yale” calendar is produced.

February 1983

The National Endowment for the Humanities gives the Women’s Studies department a three-year $170,044 grant to broaden the scope of the program.

April 1983

Women’s Week takes place at Yale—a project designed to explore the role of women in labor, academia, athletics, and the law. Panels include congressman Bella Abzug, Chemist Maxine Singer, and the Ms. Editorial board.

Betty Friedan, feminist activist and author of The Feminine Mystique is chosen as Senior Class Day Speaker.

September 1983

Deborah Rhode, BA ’74, JD ’77, Associate Professor of Law at Stanford, becomes the first woman graduate of Yale College to be elected an alumni fellow of the Corporation.

March 1984

Yale Women’s Fencing Team wins Yale women athletics’ first national championship. They will repeat the following year.

October 1984

Mostly female clerical and technical workers in Local 34 hold a 10-week-long strike to raise women’s wages, revise and upgrade job classifications, and encourage women to take pride in their work. The strike was successful; many of Local 34’s demands were met in negotiations.

February 1985

Professor Patricia Joplin, Assistant Professor of English, speaks at a Directed Studies lecture on the topic “Are Women Human?”— a lecture held in response to the paucity of women studied in the D.S. curriculum.

April 1985

Provost William Brainard announces that Yale hopes to have 30 tenured women on the faculty by 1990, as recommended in the Faculty of Art and Sciences Advisory Committee on Education of Women (the Crothers Committee) Report.

January 1986

The first Rape Awareness Week at Yale offers information, holds a vigil, and places a large “X” on campus in places where women have been sexually assaulted.

April 1986

Yale Trustees vote to include “sexual orientation” in Yale’s equal opportunity clause.

September 1986

Playboy again comes to Yale’s campus, and several undergraduate women are selected to pose. Unlike 1978, there is minimal controversy.

November 1987

Jessica Yu ’87 is awarded the Francis Gordon Brown Memorial Prize, given annually to a student for “character, capacity for leadership, and service to the university” as well as academic and athletic achievements. The criterion of “high manhood” has been removed from the prize.

March 1988

The secret society Scroll and Key votes to go coed. Skull and Bones considers accepting women, but decides not to do so.

October 1988

Yale cheerleaders charge that they were molested at the Yale-Navy football game by the Navy team. They later receive a handwritten apology from the Naval

Academy for alleged harassment and abuse by crowds of midshipmen.

January 1989

Margaret Chen ’90 is the first woman to be elected as Yale College Council President.

April 1989

Approximately 400 Yale students join over 300,000 demonstrators in Washington, D.C. to “Mobilize for Women’s Lives.” Yale Marchers carry signs reading “Skull and Bones for Choice” and “For God, For Country, for Yale and for Choice.”

Seven hundred women and 100 men March to Take Back the Night, after a seven hour speak-out on Old Campus against sexual assault and harassment.

Professors Nancy Cott and Margaret Homans collect forty faculty signatures and send a letter to President Schmidt urging a goal of parity between men and women on the faculty.


Marie Borroff becomes the first woman to be named a Sterling Professor.

April 1991

Judith Rodin is the first woman to be appointed dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Against the wishes of their national leadership, the secret society Skull and Bones taps its first class to include women. The alumni board reacts to this act of defiance by changing the locks on the doors of the tomb. Following months of arguments, the organization votes to accept women in July of 1991.


Weili Cheng ’77 becomes the youngest and first female Yale College graduate to serve as chair of the Yale Alumni Association.


The non-partisan Women’s Campaign School at Yale is founded with the help of Yale Law School, to train women to run for public office.

The Women’s Table is installed in front of Sterling Memorial Library. Designed by architect Maya Lin, BA ’81, M. Arch ’86, the granite slab in engraved with the number of women in each Yale class since its founding.

September 1995

Women outnumber men for the first time in the freshman class. 694 (50.7%) women to 675 (49.3%) men.

February 1998

Women’s Health Research at Yale is founded by Dr. Carolyn Mazure.


Bobbi Mark becomes the first female chair of the Alumni Fund.

October 2000

The Gilder Boathouse is named for Virginia Gilder ’79 who rowed all four years at Yale and competed on two Olympic teams, winning one silver medal. Virginia Gilder and her father, also a Yalie, spearheaded the funding drive for the boathouse.

July 2001

Rebecca Chopp is appointed the first woman dean of the Yale Divinity School.

September 2001

The Women Faculty Forum is established with membership of female faculty across campus to advocate for gender equality at Yale. It is inaugurated with a two- day conference titled “Gender Matters,” featuring Maya Lin and Gloria Naylor as keynote speakers.

May 2002

Maya Lin is elected as the first artist and Asian American woman to serve on the Yale Corporation.

April 2003

Kathrin Lassila becomes the first female editor of the Yale Alumni Magazine.

September 2004

The Department of Education conducts an investigation into claims that Yale has been under-reporting crimes on campus, particularly incidents of sexual harassment and rape.

September 2005

Yale graduate Louise Story publishes “Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood.” She writes of the “opt-out revolution,” based on interviews of undergraduate Yale women and faculty, among others, in which “roughly 60 percent said that when they had children, they planned to cut back on work or stop working entirely.”

September 2006

Yale announces its intention to open an on-campus center for sexual assault. This announcement eventually gives rise to the Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education (SHARE) Center.

Women comprise 31% of the Yale faculty – 20% of tenured faculty are female. It is reported that women are paid less than their male counterparts at every professional rank.

October 2006

The Yale Corporation expands its official equal opportunity and employment policy, which formerly protected against discrimination based on “race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national or ethnic origin, veteran status,” to include “gender identity or expression.”

September 2007

The undergraduate Women’s Leadership Initiative is formed to inspire and encourage women leaders. They hold their first conference in 2007, attracting 180 student attendees and featuring keynote speaker Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post.

January 2008

A photograph is circulated which depicts members of the Zeta Psi Fraternity in front of the Yale Women’s Center holding a sign that says “WE LOVE YALE SLUTS.” In response, the Yale Women’s Center produces a report encouraging the improvement of Yale’s sexual harassment and education policies. Dean Peter Salovey creates two committees to deal with the Center’s requests.

October 2008

Sterling Professor of Art History and master of Saybrook College, Mary Miller, is appointed the first female dean of Yale College.

November 2008

Although Yale college receives 2,281 more applications from female than from male applicants, 68 more men than women are offered a place in the class of 2012, representing an admission rate of 9.8% for men, and only 7.5% for women, causing doubt about Yale’s “gender- blind” admissions policy.

Sharon Oster, SOM’s first tenured female faculty member, is appointed Dean of the Yale School of Management.

January 2009

The women who graduated in the Jonathan Edwards College class of 1973 dedicate a plaque in the JE Junior Common Room to commemorate the first years of coeducation.

September 2009

An email surfaces rating 53 freshwomen according to the number of drinks one would need to consume before having sex with them.

The program in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies welcomes its first senior faculty member, Inderpal Grewal, of University of California, Irvine.

November 2009

The Yale policy on Sexual Harassment and Student- Teacher Consensual Relations is amended to expressly forbid amorous or sexual relations between teachers and undergraduate students.

Jen Ivers ’10, is elected by her college to participate in the Yale College Council’s annual Mr. Yale competition. She is the first ever competitor in the talent show who does not identify as either male or female.

February 2010

The Yale College Council announces that the Yale Corporation has voted to approve Mixed Gender suites for seniors for the 2010-11 academic year.

September 2010

The Women Faculty Forum launches “Women at Yale: A Tour.”

February 2011

YaleWomen, a shared interest group under the umbrella of the YAA, is founded following the 40th anniversary celebrations of women in Yale College.

September 2011

Advisory Committee on Campus Climate releases The Marshall Report on Campus Climate.

July 2014

Tamar Gendler ’87 takes office as the inaugural Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

April 2016

It is announced that one of the two new residential colleges will be named for Pauli Murray JSD ’65.  It is the first residential college at Yale named for a woman; it opens its doors to students in fall 2017.

July 2016

Weili Cheng ’77 is appointed the first female executive director of the Yale Alumni Association.

Deborah Berke is appointed the first female dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

Marta Kuzma becomes the first woman dean to lead the Yale School of Art.

Indy Burke is appointed the first female dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Heather Gerken becomes the first female dean of Yale Law School.


Calhoun College is renamed for Grace Murray Hopper PhD ’34.

April 2018

The Women Faculty Forum unveils a portrait at Sterling Memorial Library celebrating the first women to receive PhDs at Yale.

Nancy Stratford becomes the first person to have chaired both the Alumni Fund and the Yale Alumni Association.

February 2018

Vicky Chun is appointed Yale’s first female athletic director.

Sofia Campoamor becomes the first female to be admitted to the Whiffenpoofs.