At the beginning of a film on the advent of coeducation at Yale at the University Art Gallery’s lecture hall Tuesday night, photographs, paintings and statues of Yale men flashed across the screen, while the almost arrogantly masculine 1960s Yardbirds’ hit, “I’m a Man,” blared in the background.
A news clip from WFSB/TV3 interrupted the music and images. The clip called Yale’s decision to admit women undergraduates as the “crumbling” of the University, a statement that evoked both dropped jaws and chuckles from an audience of students, alumni and faculty, including Yale President Richard Levin.
Similarly bold statements about the controversial decision to admit women as Yale undergraduates filled the remainder of “Boola Boola — Yale Goes Coed,” the award-winning documentary by Julia Pimsleur ’90. This film will be replayed tonight at 7 p.m. and followed by a panel discussion including prominent Yale alumni and faculty, including Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead. This event is one of several the Women Faculty Forum for the Tercentennial has scheduled to celebrate the role of women — who just gained admittance to Yale College in 1969 — in the University’s 300-year history.
“Obviously it’s the goal to reflect women in all tercentennial programs,” Women Faculty Forum coordinator Alison Mackenzie said.
But Mackenzie said since women have shared only several decades of Yale’s history, some females involved with tercentennial planning were concerned that this part of Yale might be neglected. To ensure that the influence, struggles and contributions of their gender were celebrated, a handful of women on the tercentennial committee banned together last spring and the Women Faculty Forum was born.
The group has grown beyond this small, initial committee, political science lecturer and forum member Nancy Ruther said. Today, 23 female faculty members communicate via meetings and e-mails to discuss event possibilities and crystallize plans.
The group is excited about the events they have helped to line up, Mackenzie said.
One such event is the screening of “A Hero for Daisy,” a film about Olympian Chris Ernst ’76, who led the Yale women’s rowing team in protesting for proper locker room facilities, part of a larger movement that alerted the nation about gender inequalities in sports.
The film will be presented March 28 at 7 p.m. in Linsly-Chittenden Hall.
Yale women have thrived despite this and other struggles, and a panel discussion entitled, “Women at Yale and Beyond, WAY Beyond” on March 29 at 7 p.m. in Linsly-Chittenden 102 will demonstrate some of the successes of female alumni.
Sandra Boynton ’74, an artist and author; Kathleen Cleaver ’84, attorney, professor and a former member of the Black Panther Central Committee; and Laura Scher ’80, co-founder, chairwoman and CEO of Working Assets will reflect on their years at Yale and their successful careers since.
But the forum’s biggest event will come this fall. “Gender Matters,” a series of panel discussions, performances, speeches and teas that will feature renowned Yale professors and graduates, will be held Sept. 20-21.
“It’s important [for the Women’s Faculty Forum] not only to celebrate what women have brought to the university, but also what they have brought to the world,” visiting law lecturer and forum member Mary Clark said.