News from Alumni House

Celebrating Yale women

Susan Lennon ’85MPPM and Barbara Wagner ’73 are the co-chairs of Celebrating Yale Women. 

A weekend event for Yale College, Graduate School, and professional school alumnae, as well as current and former faculty and administrators and current students, will be held March 26–28, 2010, to examine a variety of topics of particular interest to women and to enable women to share experiences and insights. The event, entitled Celebrating Yale Women, also serves to commemorate this year’s 40th anniversary of coeducation at Yale College and 140th anniversary of women at Yale University.

Forty years ago, the United States was embroiled in the midst of great social, political, and economic change wrought by such events as the Vietnam War and the civil rights and women’s movements. Among the changes was the coeducation of many single-gender colleges and universities, including Yale College in 1969. While women had been at Yale since 1869 as graduate and professional students, the college was male-only. With college coeducation, Yale University experienced a life-defining moment of its own, and was forever changed.

Yale women have made their mark on the university, in their homes and communities, in all sectors of the workplace, on the world at large. The generations of students who follow in their footsteps will do so as well.

There are numerous topics that women want to discuss—across generations and geographies; whether they are employed outside the home or not; whether full-time or part-time, paid or volunteer; whether or not they are caring for children, aging parents, or siblings. Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. Army before her retirement, has noted, “Women not only see things differently from men, but they see different things. That only adds strength to an organization.” We want to celebrate the variety of ways women contribute to our economy, our government, and our communities, and also explore where women could bring new voices to the discussion.

When the AYA launched its new strategic plan in 2008 (, the objective was to build communities of Yale alumni across all lines—school affiliation, geographic area, interest and identity groups—and engage more effectively in service to Yale. In addition to a variety of keynote speakers and panel discussions on such topical issues as work-life balance, breaking the glass ceiling, health, and education, Celebrating Yale Women will include networking opportunities and smaller, more intimate and reflective conversations around campus, as well as opportunities to capture oral histories.

Additional programs and activities in local Yale Clubs are planned, including lead-up programs in major cities. Service projects that speak particularly to women are also planned, to tie in with the Yale Global Day of Service in May. Celebrating Yale Women will offer women the option to participate in the full three-day program or, to accommodate schedules and budgets, on single days. To make the event widely accessible to those who cannot make the trip to New Haven, many of the presentations will also be recorded and made available online.

The last time Yale hosted an alumnae program was in 2004. Yale Women in a Changing World brought close to 500 alumnae to campus ( We hope to get a larger turnout than in 2004 and build on the excitement that was generated then. The conversations at the 2004 conference spilled over from speakers to meals to small groups, as we shared our own perspectives on where women have come from and where we are going. We hope alumnae realize that making the effort to attend this conference in person will far outweigh the alternative of reading about it or participating in a local event.

A final list of speakers is not available as this goes to press, but information about and registration for the program, as well as informative resources, are available at, a website that will be updated up until the March weekend.

The comment period has expired.