The experience the first undergraduate women found when they stepped onto Yale's imposing campus was not the same one their male peers enjoyed. Isolated from one another, singled out as oddities and sexual objects, and barred from many of the privileges an elite education was supposed to offer, many of the first girls found themselves immersed in an overwhelmingly male culture they were unprepared to face. Yale Needs Women is the story of how these young women fought against the backward-leaning traditions of a centuries-old institution and created the opportunities that would carry them into the future.
As a female graduate of Yale, I’d always assumed that the story of women’s admission to the college in 1969 was one of triumph ... 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... In absorbing detail, Perkins describes the organizing efforts of [the] early years ... Reading the book, it was amazing to realize that during my first days at Yale, in 1983, the gender quota had been abolished only 11 years before, and that women had been present for just 14. It’s no wonder, as Perkins notes, that there remains a considerable distance to go.
While the book feels a bit parochial because it never leaves Yale’s campus, Perkins has delivered an engaging and surprising story that illustrates the challenges college women have confronted across the country. Her narrative made this recent college grad feel grateful to the women who came before her ... Perkins offers intriguing insights into the stories of Yale’s female students ... Her book invites other schools and scholars to recognize the pioneering women of their own institutions.
This smart, lively first book by Perkins, a higher education scholar and Yale graduate, challenges a 'sanitized tale of equity instantly achieved' when the elite university, after 268 years, admitted female undergraduates in 1969 ... Perkins succeeds admirably in restoring these women’s fascinating voices and weaving in the larger historical context. This is a valuable contribution to the history of higher education, women, and the postwar U.S.