Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Women Presidents and the Changing University

Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Women Presidents and the Changing University


Welcome everyone. My name is Jean Howard. I’m chair of the Pembroke
Center Associates Council and I’m delighted to welcome
you to tonight’s roundtable, “Cracking the Glass
Ceiling: Women Presidents and the Changing University.” When I went to Brown in the late
1960s, I had exactly two women professors during my four
years as an undergraduate. During the time I
was a PhD Student at Yale in the early 1970s,
I had no women professors. And in those days, it was
almost impossible to think that some day women
would be presidents of such prestigious
Ivy institutions. Tonight, we are here in part
to celebrate the changes that have occurred during
the last 40 years, and it’s important to remember
that positive change does happen, and to think
critically about the social and institutional
factors that still impede the realization of full
gender and racial equity in institutions of higher
education as in society at large. At Brown, the Pembroke
Center, founded in 1981, has played an especially
important role in keeping feminist
concerns alive, and in keeping the conversation
around those concerns both serious and evolving. As an interdisciplinary
research center, the Pembroke Center produces
critical scholarship on gender, and on other
issues of difference such as race, ethnicity,
class, sexuality, and religion. Supported by the Pembroke Center
Associates, alumni, friends, and parents such as
myself, the Center not only facilitates
teaching and scholarship, but also develops
archives, preserving the history of women at Brown,
as well as the rich history of feminist theory
in the academy, and it brings together
faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students from
the humanities, the social sciences,
and the life sciences for collaborative
research and conversation. It is the Pembroke
Center that is sponsoring tonight’s event as part
of its contribution to Brown’s 250th
Anniversary Celebration. President Paxson
will be mentioning another important event
the Center is also sponsoring, a fascinating
exhibit, “The Lamphere Case: The Sex Discrimination
Case that Changed Brown” on display in Pembroke Hall
from now until commencement, and I urge you all to
go visit that exhibit. At Brown, we have become,
I am happy to say, a little accustomed
to female leadership, and it is very sweet
to say those words. Ruth Simmons led Brown during
an important period of growth from 2001 to 2012, and now we
have the wonderful Christina Paxson as our 19th president. Let me introduce
her very briefly. After receiving a
BA from Swarthmore, President Paxson
then earned a Ph.D. in economics at
Columbia University, and in 1997, she was hired
as an Assistant Professor of Economics and Public
Affairs at Princeton where she was the first
woman to receive tenure in the Economics Department. And at least in my
experience, economics is one of the very
hardest tenure ceilings for women to crack. During her time
at Princeton, she was, among many
other activities, the founding director of
the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging, and
her scholarship has increasingly focused on the relationship
of economic factors to health and welfare
over the life course. Immediately, before
coming to Brown, President Paxson served as dean
of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International
and Public Affairs. At Brown, she has quickly
moved to develop building on distinctions,
the strategic plan that will guide the next
phase of Brown’s growth, and has become a leader much
admired by students, faculty, and alums and I’m very
happy to introduce her as the moderator
of tonight’s panel. Jean, thank you so much. I will do my introductions
from the podium and then sit down
for our conversation. The topic of the panel
today is the changing role of women in academics, featuring
three very strong and very wonderful women who have
become university presidents. In fact, all of them can claim
the role of the first woman to be president at their
respective institutions. So let me just say a few
words about each of them. Shirley Tilghman served
as Princeton University’s president from 2001 to 2013. At the time of her
appointment as president, she had served on the
Princeton faculty for 15 years. She is a world renowned
scholar in the field of molecular biology. Among her many
accomplishments as president, Shirley oversaw the creation
of major academic programs in the arts, energy, the
environment, and neuroscience. Drew Faust is the 28th president
of Harvard, appointed in 2007. She is a professor
of history, was on the faculty at the University
of Pennsylvania for 25 years, and then founding dean of
the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. As president, Drew continues
to raise the university’s international reach, and
expand financial aid, in addition to collaborating
on many of today’s challenging issues facing administrators
in higher education. Nan Keohane’s career
as a president spanned over two decades,
first at Wellesley College from 1981 to 1993, and
then at Duke University from 1993 to 2004. Nan is a political
philosopher, and is currently researching the theory
and practice of leadership in democratic societies at
the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Of note, as a visiting
professor at Princeton, Shirley appointed Nan
to chair a committee on undergraduate
women leadership. During her presidencies, Nan
advanced the use of technology on campus, and worked to
diversify the communities of students and faculty. I also want to note one
brand new, well sort of brand new woman president
who is in the audience, and that is Rosanne
Somerson who’s sitting right here in front. Rosanne has been interim
president of RISD for a year, and just last week,
we got the great news that she will continue as
the permanent president, so congratulations, Rosanne. So the backdrop
for this panel is what is referred to at Brown
as the Lamphere decision. In the mid 1970s,
Louise Lamphere brought a class action lawsuit
against Brown University, which charged Brown with
discrimination against women in tenure decisions. This lawsuit resulted, in
1977, in a consent decree that opened up the
university to women faculty in much greater numbers. And Jean mentioned the exhibit. I hope all of you
have the chance to go see the exhibit that
opened today in Pembroke Hall, and lays out in a very
forthright and honest manner, the genesis and consequences
of the Lamphere case. And I want to thank all of
the members of the exhibit committee for their
thoughtful care in curating and bringing
this exhibit to fruition. So let me just read their names
so we can acknowledge them. Nancy L. Bac, Amy Goldstein,
Jean Howard, Wendy Korwin, Karen Newman, Barbara Raab,
Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Kay Warren, Elizabeth
Weed, and Debbie Weinstein. So thanks to all very much. And thanks. I’m looking for her
in the front rows. Is Louise here? There you are! There you are. I couldn’t see you. I’m delighted to have Louise
Lamphere here with us today. So let’s start the
conversation, and I just wanted to start by saying,
for people in the audience, it might seem a little
unusual for a university to be celebrating
what was effectively, we didn’t formally lose, but
Brown did lose this lawsuit, and here we are celebrating it. But I think we’ve come to
know that Louise Lamphere’s victory was really
a victory for Brown, it was a victory
for women at Brown, and it was a victory
for universities around the country. And it’s recognized to this day
as a very pivotal experience. So what I wanted
to ask each of you is can you identify in the
respective institutions that you’ve been part of over
the course your careers really pivotal moments other
than becoming presidents yourself– although those
can be moments too– but that really changed
the status of women, either as students or faculty. What’s been really important? Should I start with Nan? Well, it’s easy to say in
the case of Wellesley, being founded as a women’s college
by our founder, Henry Fowle Durant, who said,
“Women can do the work. I give them the chance.” And having reaffirmed
the decision to remain a women’s
college– sounds like Gilbert and Sullivan– in the face of
being able to do other things, has been an important
commitment for Wellesley, and one that we cherish. For Duke, I guess
what I would name would be, again,
the founding– not the founding– but the big
gift for Trinity College of $100,000 in 1890, which was
a lot of money, the first Duke family gift on condition
that women be educated on the same terms as men. That was a big deal. But the last thing
I want to mention was not of any institution
I was president of, but one that involves Louise
Lamphere in an indirect way. I was an assistant professor
at Stanford in the 1970s working happily and dutifully
on political philosophy, Greek 18th century,
and got this invitation from Shelly Rosaldo, Diane
Middlebrook, Jane Collier, young faculty members
like myself, who said, let’s get together
and talk about what it would be like if our
disciplines paid attention to women. Wow, what a revolutionary idea. This was second wave feminism
as it took root at Stanford. And the way I think
about it in retrospect is the familiar line, “Bliss
was it in that dawn to be alive, and to be young
was very heaven.” So we faculty members sat
around on somebody’s carpet all night talking about
how to change Stanford by founding a feminist
studies program with a Ph.D. and an undergraduate
major by setting up a center for research
on women, and by editing Signs, the feminist journal,
together as a collective. And although Louise was not
on the Stanford faculty, she was very close
to Shelly Rosaldo. Their book, Women, Culture,
and Society, was our Bible, and so she was often there. And so I name this because I do
think it did change Stanford. It was technically
co-educational, but this made it much
more clearly feminist, and Louise had a part in that. Thank you. Shirley. I don’t think, Princeton
didn’t have a Louise Lamphere. We didn’t. So when I was trying
to think about what was the comparable event
at Princeton that initiated the many changes that have
happened in the last 40, 50 years, it was
really co-education. And we shouldn’t
underestimate today, when co-education just seems
so obvious to us, the impact on these all-male institutions. In the first two or three
years when women first appeared on campus most
of the institutions were not ready for women. Wasn’t just the
absence the bathrooms. It was really the
absence of any idea of what it was
going to suddenly be like to have women in
classrooms, women asking, where’s my sports team,
women sort of asking to be taken seriously as scholars. So I think for
Princeton, the arrival of that first generation
of women in the 1970s who really were extraordinary. I mean, they were pioneers. I often refer to them
as the kibbutzniks because they were the pioneers. And I think they came with
a certain amount of pioneer spirit and intention to
take the place by storm. And when I now look at
what those women have done with their
lives, many of them have taken the world
by storm, and I don’t think it’s at all surprising. So I think for the Princeton,
the arrival of women as students was really the
transformational event. What about at Harvard? Or maybe you want
to talk about Penn? I don’t know. When you asked us
to think about this, I couldn’t come up
with a single moment. There’s not a Louise
Lamphere to cite and I don’t think
a particular event, but something that
came to my mind immediately was a report
that was written in 1971, and issued to the
faculty as a whole. It was written, the
chairs of the report were Michael Walzer, now at the
Institute for Advanced Study, and Caroline Bynum,
recently at the Institute for Advanced Study. She was soon thereafter
denied tenure at Harvard. But in this report,
they bravely set forth the realities of numbers across
the faculty, and how terrible they were, and what the
expectations of an increasingly female student body
included, and set a path that has been the North
Star in a way for the inclusion of women more fully
on the faculty and in the university
as a whole. At the time they
wrote that report, there were 731 faculty at
Harvard, and 11 were women. That’s every school. And in arts and sciences,
there were only two women. So Jean, I thought about, you
said you only had two women. Well, you would have
had to really make a point of finding
those two women had you been an undergraduate
at Harvard at that time. So I think that was kind of
the beginning of monitoring ourselves, and that was the
beginning of recognizing the path towards change. It’s interesting. And I’m going to
go off questions that I know you knew
I was going to ask, but one way I started to
really get to know you, Shirley, was when you asked me
to be the lone social scientist on a report that we did
on the status of women in the natural sciences and
engineering at Princeton. And that had followed on
the heels of the MIT report, which I think was also
a very important report. Absolutely. Yeah. And actually, there
were, I think, two heroes of that story at MIT. One is Nancy
Hopkins, who clearly raised the question of
whether women faculty at MIT were having the same
experience with respect to their own institution
as their male colleagues. And then I think the other
great hero was Chuck Vest, who was president of MIT,
and instead of saying, be a good girl. Go away. He said, that’s a question
we should be answering. That’s a question we
should be looking at, and I think his willingness
to open the door, and have that publicly
examined, because it really became a very public report,
was a remarkable thing. No, I think so too. So second topic, which is to
get off, talk about, all of you are great scholars,
amazing scholars, and you come from
very different fields. We have American history,
molecular biology, political theory,
and philosophy. How has your
experience, how does interdisciplinary
background, how has it affected how you’ve
approached the presidency. Has it helped you? Has it hurt you? What’s the role? It’s so nice to have
you ask this question in a kind of neutral
way, because when I first became president people would
say, you’re a historian. What use is that? How did that qualify
you for this job. And I felt from the
very outset that there could be no better background. Because as I look at
a problem, I think, where did it come from? What are its origins? What can I learn
about the problem by looking at its origins? And then I think,
what is history about? It’s about change. And leadership is about change. It’s about helping
people to accept change, helping people ready for
change, understanding what makes them resist
change, and that’s what history is
about, so I’ve always felt it was an enormously
useful disciplinary framework from which to approach the
problems of a presidency. And have people
stopped asking you that question with skepticism? They’ve stopped. Good. Shirley. [INAUDIBLE] So I remember one of
the very last questions I was asked by the
search committee when they were making their
final decision about who was going to be president,
one of them who was a banker, I think, turned to
me and said, you do know how to read a
spreadsheet, don’t you? I said, I’m scientist. I know how to read
a spreadsheet. But as I think about what
a background as a scientist brings, the thing that
immediately comes to mind is that I love to
solve problems. Because science is
basically posing a question and then trying to figure
out how to get the answer. And so I think my
numerate skills, my analytical
skills probably were important over the
course of my presidency, but it was also a
disadvantage in the beginning. Because when you’re
a scientist, you’re rewarded for going
deep, for being in control of every single
fact and figure, everything that you can know about
a specific subject. And that was the
way I had conducted my entire professional life, so
I would get together a group, they would come in and say,
so here’s what we know, and now, what’s the decision? And I would say, just send
me the Excel spreadsheets, and I’ll spend some time,
and I’ll look at them, and I’ll analyze them,
and I’ll figure it out. And they said, no, no, no. We’ve done all that. We just want the answer. And I realized
that if I continued to function as I had as a
scientist, which is going deep, I was going to really frustrate
virtually everybody who worked with me. So it took some time
to realize that I had to trust the fact
finding and the figure analyzing that
others were doing, and I had to learn how to
take and trust and then make decisions. So it was both a plus
and a minus for me. That’s totally interesting. Nan? Well, as political
philosopher, I wish I had been more used
to reading spreadsheets. I guess political philosophers
don’t read spreadsheets, and I had to learn that. It would have been very helpful. But political theory,
political philosophy, and even more broadly,
political science have been very helpful
to me as a leader. Partly because that’s what
political scientists study is the use of power, the ways in
which conflicts of interest are or are not
resolved, how you reach compromises, how you set goals. I mean, thinking about what
leadership means at some level is part of what
political scientists do, and so, for me, that’s
been a very helpful major. But I’ll wind up my
answer by answering the reverse the
ways– since I’m now on the other side of being
an administrator– the ways it’s been helpful to me,
as a political scientist, to be a university president. When I became a president,
I was just freshly tenured at Stanford, and I’d
had no experience of all this. A couple of my colleagues
in political philosophy were really shocked. Why on Earth would you do this? One who was a Plato
expert said, why would you go back down into the cave? And I thought, is that
what it’s going to be like? It was, unfortunately. But a more perceptive
political theory colleague said, what do you hope to learn? And that was the right question. Because I have learned a
lot as a political scientist from the experience
of being a president. I was very curious about it. That’s one reason
I took the job. We study power, so what does
it feel like to actually have some power? And I found that on
the other side as I’ve been working for the last
10 years at Princeton and now at the
Institute and teaching, I am a better political
scientist for having done it, and I also think I
was a better president in many ways for being
a political scientist, although it would have helped
to read a spreadsheet when I came in. So Nan, I just
want to follow up. After you left Duke, you wrote
a wonderful book called Thinking About Leadership, and it’s
one, I told you today, I keep it on my, it’s in
my Kindle, it’s on my iPad, I read it periodically. I love it. There is an entire chapter
in that book on the question that I think all of us have
probably been asked many times. And it’s interesting, you
talked about sort of power, and the question is do women
lead differently than men? Are their differences? And we may have very
different opinions about this. I know your opinion,
because I’ve read your book. Maybe you could start
with that, and then we could work back
down the other way. Well, I’ll start
by also saying it’s so familiar to have Chris
Paxson asking me questions because she was my dean at
the Woodrow Wilson Center. It feels real natural. So in thinking about
leadership, which is an example, by the way,
of what I learned was sort of this was part of the
fruition of knowing more about leadership and power. But there is a chapter,
as Chris mentioned, do women lead
differently from men? And I think that’s a
complicated question. I don’t think it’s
obviously yes, or obviously no,
because leadership is a very individual activity. And to say that all women lead
the same is obviously untrue. Margaret Thatcher, and Mother
Theresa, Indira Gandhi. Who else would you name? I do think that socialization
to care, to nurture, to look around for others, and
the experiences that often we have as girls and women
where we are required, if we’re going to survive,
to have a peripheral vision that guys may not always
need in quite the same way means that it is likely,
probably, that many of us do lead at least a
little bit differently. But I know something
about how all the folks up here on the stage lead, and I
certainly don’t think anybody would say we lead in a
fundamentally feminine fashion that makes us different
from our male peers. But maybe we’re not
the best ones to judge, and maybe my colleagues
will disagree. But the second part
of the question I know Chris has in mind is do
women face different challenges as leaders? And now, we’re not talking
about presidents only. I think women do face special
challenges as leaders, and that’s a subject of a lot
of debate, of course, today that I’m not going
to get into now. But whether we need to lean in,
as Sheryl Sandberg would say, or work on the structures, as
Anne-Marie Slaughter would say, there clearly are
challenges that we face in making our way
through this labyrinth, and we can come back and
talk about that if you wish. I like the addition
to the question, so why don’t we stipulate
that it’s added and see. So I am so glad that Nan
answered the question first, because I have struggled with
that question over many years, well before I became president. And on any given day,
I couldn’t come up with multiple different
answers to the question. There’s a part of
me that doesn’t want to admit that women lead
any differently than men. And this partly comes
out of the question that I used to be asked which is
do women do science differently than men? And my answer then was
always absolutely not. Science is science. But the longer I
was in a position where I was leading
an institution, the more I actually
had to concede that I think there are
these subtle differences, and they’re not stereotypes. And I hate stereotypes,
so I really don’t want to suggest that. But I think on
average that women are more likely to lead by
consensus building rather than command and control. I think it’s culture. It’s the way we
were raised in part. So I think there
probably are differences, and those differences matter. I would agree with
my colleagues. That’s the easy way out. But I’ll say a little more. And I would emphasize
the socialization point. Girls are raised differently
in our society from boys, and we are the product of that. And one of the aspects
of it that I’d just like to add to what you two said
is the listening aspect, which I think is such an important
key part of leadership, because you need
to understand where the people you’re
trying to lead are before you can get them
to go somewhere else and to follow you. And the best tool for
that is to listen. And I think women– in
American society, at least, Western society, I would
say more generally, I don’t know how broadly
to generalize it– but women are socialized to
listen more I think than men are, and I think that
is an invaluable trait for leadership,
and one that then results in consensus
building and some of the things you described. But I think is another element. I agree with both
of you, and that’s expanding on what I
was groping for there. Although I recall very vividly,
because I was in the room when you were announced as
the president of Harvard, you said, I’m not the
woman president of Harvard. I am president of Harvard. So it was very important
that they wouldn’t just put you in some box. I felt, I got this
question about what does it feel like to be the
woman president of Harvard, and I thought, am I always going
to be seen with an asterisk, sort of like this season was
long enough that the home runs don’t count. Well, let me ask you
one more question that I know people
in the audience would love to chime in. So it’s been nearly 40 years
since the Louise Lamphere case was settled, and yet we’ve
named this panel “Cracking the Glass Ceiling,” not
“Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” and that choice was
actually purposeful. If you look across
academics, you see that women continue
to be under-represented in a number of areas,
not all, but many, sciences, among provosts,
among presidents, in some areas of students. So for each of you,
what are the next steps? What do we need to
be worrying about? What actions or Shirley,
you love to solve problems, so what are the problems
that we need to solve? I think it’s childcare. And I don’t simply mean
having concrete solutions. Those are incredibly important. But I think it is recognizing
that our society was structured at a time when the family
expectations for mothers and fathers were
completely different, and we have not yet
figured out a way how to get through
those old expectations, and those old cultural practices
to make it possible for women to think about both work
and family as complementary and mutually
beneficial activities that are completely natural. Likewise, that men can be able
to think about them in exactly the same way. And until we figure this
out, I think we are always going to be running uphill. That’s really interesting, Good. So I would emphasize also
structures to go back in the various structures. But I do think there are still
assumptions– and this relates to your last question
too– about women. I notice that when I
read tenure dossiers, people talk about women
with different language from the way they
talk about men. I think that has an influence
on the kinds of projects women may undertake
because they fear being seen as claiming too much. The man is brilliant. It’s the same kind of
program or project. And we can also see, and there
have been studies– and maybe even some of you in this room
have done these studies– where you send out a CV, and you
put a man’s name on it, you put a woman’s
name on it, and you get a completely
different reaction. So there’s still work to be
done in what expectations and attitudes are about women. And I think we need to
work on those as well. Do you know what we can do? That’s a harder, I don’t have
an answer to that, so I’m just. It’s hard. Well, I think the work that
points that out, I think, is– Is important. –challenging search
committees, challenging letters, and pointing out the
way they’re framed is– Just making is visible. –making it visible is
at least a beginning. I was able to see
the exhibit that Jean mentioned this afternoon
and it’s really impressive. And I was just glancing
around the wall at a time when Louise
had to challenge Brown. The language from
the searches then, we’re looking for the best man. Find a man. And that’s still, at
some level, embedded in too many people’s thinking. There still are
prejudices about who is the most appropriate
candidate for a job. I do feel, however, that
those are, in many places, melting away, and
the work of people like Louise in
challenging, knocking them down has laid the
groundwork for that. I’m not naive enough to
think they’ve all gone away, but in my opinion,
the problem is more the wrestling with the
career and family juggling. I mean, Shirley nailed
it at the beginning. I served on a committee
that Donna Shalala chaired, of the National
Academy of Sciences, that came up with a
report on women in science and engineering called
“Beyond Bias and Barriers,” and it was maybe
seven years ago. And in that report, we were able
to show that in most fields, not all, but in most fields,
women have gained parity with men, sometimes
even more women, not just in science
and engineering, but other professions right up
through the terminal degree– the Ph.D., the postdoc,
the MBA, whatever it may be– not the MBA– JD, MD. But that there is this drop-off. It’s not a leaky pipeline. It’s like a cliff,
and the cliff is when you take that first
job, and you set yourself off on the tenure track, or
you’ve set yourself up to earn partner in a law firm. And to do that, you’re
making a commitment which involves sometimes often almost
an impossible challenge if you were also a mother, and
clearly the biological clock and the tenure clock
tick the same way as so many people have
said, or the partner clock. And finding ways–
it’s partly childcare, I think that is
fundamental– but it’s also family friendly workplaces
and work time and clocks. And I think that is now a bigger
obstacle than the remaining prejudices. That has to be a
change by institutions in what they provide,
and in what they take as fundamental
to their cause, but it also has to
be public policy, because a lot of these things
are built into rules or not. And I think that we need to
look on both fronts for that. Well, thank you. What I’d like to do is open
the floor to questions. We have microphones
on both sides, so if people want
to come and line up, we can go back and forth. Don’t be shy. Hello. I’m here voicing concerns
raised by a group of students regarding the administrative
response to an incident of sexual violence at Brown. We are concerned with the
way that money, power, and privilege seem to
influence the adjudication and suctioning processes
when those accused are connected to large donors. It appears as though
the university is more concerned with
its image and keeping its donors happy than with
protecting its students. As university
presidents, you clearly have to balance a lot
of different interests. How do you think about balancing
a university’s fiscal interest with the safety and well-being
of the student body. Well, this is a question
from one of my students, so I think I’ll answer first. I’ve said this many times,
the safety and welfare of our students comes
before anything else. And I know that the case that’s
been talked about recently is very, very difficult
and it’s complex and not everybody agrees with
the decisions that were made. But I can assure you that
we are thinking first about our students. But thank you for the question. Anybody else? Well, I don’t– and the way
you asked the question– as president, now granted I’ve
been out of office for more than 10 years, but I don’t ever
remember doing the specific trade-off you just mentioned
of the health and safety of our students against fiscal
responsibilities and donors and whatever. I know that we use
trade-offs often in which the importance of
fiscal pressures matters, and donors are very
important to the university. But that particular
trade-off, I doubt very much that that’s going on
here, and I don’t believe that it goes on for most of us. I agree with that. I would agree also. Thank you. Are there other questions? I had a question
for Louise Lamphere. Maybe you could address- You didn’t know you were going
to be on the panel, Louise. I just wondered because
I saw the exhibit as well and listening
to everybody talk, and I wonder if there
was a personal cost that you bore when
you brought the suit, and what you were
feeling personally whether it was the
challenge of a lifetime, did you recognize at the
time that it would have such far reaching consequence? But if you could just address
that on a personal level, what it meant to you? Did it free you to become
the person you wanted to be or was it this just big burden
that you wish you’d never started the whole thing? Face everybody here. In terms of personal cost, I
guess one of the things I think is true of women
of my generation, but also maybe women of
the younger generation now is that women often
feel– partly because there’s socialization– that
they’re not pretty enough, they’re
too smart, there’s something wrong with them. And that was a real
challenge for me to believe that I really
had something to say. I could challenge the
system, rather than thinking it was really my fault. And I think that’s something
that women in America still struggle with, young
women and older women. And so if anything was
personally challenging, it was that kind of
thing, to overcome that. And to be able to overcome
that, I really needed a support group, and my support
group came from people I lived with collectively
in a house, my partner, Peter Evans is here, but
I think even today, women need a support group, people who
will say, look, you’ve got it. You’re really OK. It’s not your fault. So that’s really,
I think, one thing. I just also want to address this
issue of work/family balance, because I’ve done a lot
of research in this area. I think that the main
thing that has to happen are the structural changes
that Nan just talked about that careers, in
particular, have become lengthy 80-hour
work jobs, and it’s very difficult for a
family to raise kids– both a husband and the
wife– if two of them are working an 80 hour week job. So we need to change the
structure of work, particularly professional work. If we really had
40 hour work weeks, maybe we could manage
this, but we don’t. We don’t have the kind of health
care, childcare facilities, we don’t pay our
childcare workers enough, and the structure of jobs,
and being able to rise in jobs is such that it’s very
difficult to raise a family, even if both the husband and
the wife, or the two partners, want to share the
childcare responsibilities. And so it’s these structural
changes as well as the attitudinal changes
that people have mentioned. Thank you. So Betsy West. Hi. I just want to say that
the kind of courage that Louise Lamphere showed
to take on the university is extraordinary. And I know that
in my career I’ve benefited as a journalist–
I’m a journalist– I benefited from the women who had
the nerve to sue Newsweek, because every single person
on the masthead from here down to here was a man, and
everybody down here was a woman. You couldn’t really
advance from being a researcher to being actually
a reporter at Newsweek until a bunch of women got up
the courage to sue Newsweek. As a result, all the media
organizations suddenly felt like, hey, maybe
we’d better take women or else we will be sued. And so I think it obviously
must have had a huge impact. I was going to ask a question
about how the men react to all of this, but I’m thinking
about the childcare thing now, and wondering if
you have any insights. In 1972, a bill passed– I think
it was ’72– passed Congress for childcare in this country. It was at the height of
the women’s movement. Both houses of Congress
passed this thing, and Nixon vetoed it. He vetoed it really
for political reasons. He was going to
be going to China, and he knew he needed to throw
a bone to the right wing, so he vetoed this,
because it was seen as a kind of anti-family bill. I just wonder now in
our very partisan era, how do women really take
this issue on of child care? What do we do about it? We’ve been talking
about this for 40 years. What do we do? Shirley. If there was one thing
that I would try and do it would be to work on
paid maternity leave. It is scandalous,
scandalous that we do not have paid maternity
leave in this country. It says– –and paternity. We do not– and paternity. We do not care
about our children. That’s what that says. So for me that’s
the bedrock on which to build everything else,
which is to recognize that in those first early
months having parents with their newborn is really
critical to the welfare of that child. But I would also add, I’m
glad you began your question. Where is the person
who asked it? Betsy’s right there. It’s hard to see. I’m glad you began your question
by saying you’ve been thinking about so what about the guys? What about the men? I think it is very
important and I’m delighted to see
that there are quite a few men in this gathering,
because this is clearly not just a woman’s problem,
either the role of women in the university or the role
of taking care of children. So to me, it’s got
to be something that people think about
together, because guys also pay a price when they’re
willing to stay home and take care of their kids
and take some time off, everybody assumes
they don’t care. They’ll never be CEO. They’re not serious
about their work. And so there’s got to be a
way in which we recognize that families and children
are crucial to our country, to our economy, to the
future of human happiness, indeed the world, and
make provisions for them. I mean, I’m glad you mentioned
the act that Nixon vetoed. It’s just almost unthinkable. It would have made
such a huge difference. And you’re right,
it’s very hard to see how we’re going to get there. But in the absence of
having a government that can do it in Washington, because
of the partisan struggles, some of the states, some
corporations, some cities, let’s take advantage
of federalism, and show we can do it
at other levels too. Over here. Thank you. Hi. I’m in the Medical
School faculty and as a Wellesley
graduate I’m a strong fan of single-sex
education for women, because I think it made
a huge difference for me, and showing me that my
voice would be heard. Now, of course,
medicine is co-ed, and yet I notice as a
faculty member frequently some of the female
students are perhaps more reticent about
speaking up, about making their opinions
known, disagreeing with their supervisors when
it’s appropriate for them to be disagreeing. So I guess my
question really is it seems to me that
co-education has helped the men more than the
women in some ways, and I’d be particularly
interested in President Keohane’s comparison between
her observations of going from a single-sex environment
to a co-ed environment. Well, I’m, not
surprisingly, a big advocate of single-sex education at
some level in one’s experience. Several of my granddaughters
are having that experience in high school or
elementary school, and certainly I believe
that a women’s college is a great opportunity
for many women. But I’m going to speak also
in favor of co-education when it works, and I’m
going to give Princeton here as an example. I think it was Chris who
mentioned that I was asked– or was it Jean– to chair
a committee by Shirley Tilghman, which took
some courage on her part, to look at undergraduate
women’s leadership at Princeton. Because there was
evidence that women were having far less
opportunity or taking less advantage of
major leadership roles at the undergraduate level, were
having problems perhaps being heard so much in
class that they would gain honors,
prizes, fellowships, and we were willing to say it
was a problem, and take it on, and Shirley asked us to do it. And in our report, we talked
about the importance of women as leaders in these
very visible posts, head of student government,
editor of The Princetonian, whatever. But we also learned
from the students we talked to that all kinds
of leadership were important and we shouldn’t just look
at the big visible posts. Women behind the
scenes who were making a difference, women doing most
of the work, the guys told us. But also, women heading
smaller organizations about causes that they cared about–
the environment, the arts, whatever, tutoring in Princeton. So we saw leadership as
a multifaceted issue. But the reason I
wanted to raise it today is because people
groused and groaned about, well, why did we do this? Did we really need it? But it made a difference
in the long run surely. This year, for the first
time since the kibbutzniks, since the pioneers
came, both the President and the Vice President of
student government are women, and there had been only two in
the whole decade since 2001. And the editor of The
Princetonian is a woman, four heads of the
eating clubs are women, and other offices
are being held. And we hope this is not a blip. We hope it’s a sign that
co-education with opportunities for women that they will take
advantage of, when it works, is also a very, very
good form of education. I’d say a word in response also. I attended a women’s college. I graduated from Bryn Mawr
College in the late 1960s, and a dimension of
that that I thought was enormously important
is I saw a whole lot more than two women faculty members. And so I sometimes wonder
if I got the notion at some point in my head
that maybe I could be that, because I saw that. And it didn’t seem to
me at all impossible. Had I been at
Harvard at that time, I would have had two women
faculty members available in the whole Arts and Sciences. I would not have been allowed
in the undergraduate library. Was not open to women
until what would have been my junior year in college. And so it was just
enormously important. But I think if we
fast forward to today, we need to be
realistic about what is possible in the realm
of women’s education. I’m delighted that Wellesley
thrives, Bryn Mawr thrives. I’m saddened that Sweet Briar–
I come from Virginia– Sweet Briar is closing this summer. And I think that gives
us a lot to think about. 5% of high school graduates
express any interest whatsoever in single-sex women’s education. And so it behooves us
to ask, what is it? What was the secret
sauce that we saw, and that we still see
in single-sex education, and how do we bring that secret
sauce to Princeton, to Harvard, to Brown, so that
the 95% of students who aren’t going to even
think about a women’s college can have that
experience as well. And certainly one part
of it is having a lot of women on the faculty, so that
those role models are there. But I think we should try
to identify the others, because we’re not going to solve
the problem by having everybody suddenly decide they’re
going to single-sex schools. Thank you. [? Marguerite. ?] Hi. Thank you all for coming,
and thank you for your role in cracking the glass ceiling. So I was particularly
interested in your discussion of being a woman leader. You mentioned listening
as an important skill that sort of stands out. But I guess one thing
that I was thinking about is this often quoted
tension between being aggressive and assertive. And I’m sure in your rise,
it wasn’t smooth sailing, so I’d love to hear any
experiences you have with navigating the
tension between being assertive and aggressive,
because at the end of the day, while you may be
able to listen as much as you can, a decision needs to be. And how do you do
that without being perceived as an angry woman
or another negative word? Thank you. Who would like to take that on? I think that’s such
a great question, and it goes back to something
you asked us earlier, Chris, which is how do people
perceive your leadership? Women are read as
much more aggressive, exact same behavior, woman
will be seen as aggressive. A man, no one will say a thing. So I just think you have
to be aware of that, and I like your dichotomy there. Assertive, aggressive. You just have to be firm,
you have to be clear, you have to not be angry, and
if someone says, she was angry, you just live with that, and
tell them to get over it. I think there, linking
these two questions, it was enormously important for
me to go to a women’s college, because I never thought
about the problem with being assertive
or aggressive. We all were. That was the way we
were as Wellesley women. But even more relevant since
I was president of Wellesley first, and learned to
be a president there, and when I got to be
president of Duke, a lot of people I
discovered later thought, how can this woman
from Wellesley ever run Duke? They didn’t tell me at the time
southern politeness prevented it. But I found out later
some of the guys who became my best supporters,
donors, board members had wondered at the start. And I had realized
I had to combine some degree of my
southern past– I mean, Drew has a southern
past too– in which you are gracious, and thoughtful, with
being appropriately assertive, as I’d learned how
to be at Wellesley. But I didn’t doubt that I could
do the job in my own style, because I’d learned how to do
it in a woman’s environment, and that was
tremendously empowering. This book that I mentioned
obliquely a moment ago– Alice Eagly and Carli’s book
called, Through the Labyrinth– I think although
the glass ceiling is something that
immediately gives us an image of what’s going on, I
like the image of a labyrinth even more, that everybody
who wants to be a leader faces cul-de-sacs
and dead-ends to try to get to the central prize. But women have more
cul-de-sacs and more dead-ends than men do for a
variety of reasons. And I think one
of the big ones is the one you’ve just
named, that women have to be as Eagly and Carli say,
both agentic, meaning active, assertive, and nurturing. Guys are not
expected to be both. Women are and in order
to succeed as a leader, you’ve got to be able
somehow to combine them. Whether it’s fair or
not, I think it’s true. Yeah. The way I would have
answered the question is very similar actually to
my two friends, which is that I think
early on I realized that women are allowed
a narrower personality range than men. It’s just fact, and you
can rail against it, but you would be wise to try
and walk between the boundaries which are narrower. But I also always
kept in my mind in making a negative
decision, which are the hard ones– and the
ones where you’re being accused of being aggressive or
too assertive– the advice of a sociology professor
at Princeton who gave me this advice well before I ever
imagined that I would end up in Nassau Hall,
which is you want to be the kind of leader
who when you say no, people leave your
office smiling. And the only way I ever
learned to get that outcome was to explain why you’re making
the decision you’re making, and to do it in the
most respectful way. Because I think
a no is very hard to absorb when you feel
that it’s coming out of some kind of lack of
respect for your position, or lack of respect for who
you are as an individual. And again, this was
a male sociologist who gave me this
advice, but I think it was a really
good piece of advice about how to actually
think about navigating that narrow personality
range in tough situations. Right. Yeah. One thing I’ve
noticed in this role is when you come
into a presidency, you learn very quickly
that everything you say and every way you communicate
is observed and noted. So maintaining that range
is actually quite important. That’s a good point. Question over here. I’m also thrilled to
have you all here. I wanted to ask you about
your personal secret sauce. We talked about
socialization, but something in each of your history
left you totally secure in your own
ability to lead. And when you were asked to
step up, you didn’t hesitate, I’m guessing. Doesn’t look like it. Because I think so
much we would like women to get that somewhere,
that feeling that they can, when they’re called upon to
lead, they can actually lead. I’ll tell you a
story about a meeting I went to maybe 25 years ago at
Mills College actually of very successful women in science. There were maybe
40, 50 of us, and we were asked to fill out
a survey ahead of time. Some of the questions were quite
personal about your background, and so on. And I think the goal of the
organizers of the meeting was to try and look
for the secret sauce among all these women
who had succeeded in a field where women were
not expected to succeed. The only thing that
came through that survey was supportive parents. And I can tell you
that’s my secret sauce. I haven’t the
slightest doubt that it was having two parents–
mother and a father– who said to me from the day
I had cognitive ability, you can do anything
you want, don’t let anybody tell you different. And for me, that was everything. So my mother said to me when I
was an aggressive little girl, it’s a man’s world, sweetie,
and the sooner you learn that, the better of you’ll be. Oh no! Maybe that’s why
I’m not a scientist. I’m afraid I have the same
problem with the secret sauce in a different way. Oh no, my theory is
going down the tubes. Because my mother
was quite supportive, although I think she would never
have necessarily expected I be a college president. She was very supportive of
whatever I wanted to do. My father, who was very close
to me and from whom I learned an enormous amount–
philosophy, history, music– really didn’t believe
that women could lead, and he was quite amazed when I
became president of Wellesley. It was almost like it was partly
to show him that I could do it. That was not my big motive, but
at some level, it was there. But bless his heart, he
came to my inauguration. He was a minister. He gave the most
beautiful invocation. So he came to terms with it,
but it wasn’t the secret sauce. Really? I think fighting with my
mother might have been. And I had all these brothers
who got all these privileges, and I was a girl, and I was
supposed to do other things. And it just made me mad. You couldn’t go to Princeton. I couldn’t go to Princeton. Did you have all brothers? Her brothers went to Princeton. Well, I had a mother who
was not very supportive, but a father who was the
guy who would teach me how to use a slide rule–
we had those back then– and was very happy to teach me
“boy” things, how to use tools in the woodshop, and I think
that was important for me. So I’m with Shirley. I think parents matter. At least for some people. Well, mine might have
mattered as the opposite. In the opposite way. You just fought. I remember when
President Gregorian came to speak to our
local Brown Club, and he was asked when
would they start admitting, let’s say, gender-blind
admissions, and he said, well, that
wouldn’t be possible, because the science
departments wouldn’t get enough people in them. It would be imbalanced
towards the humanities. I wonder how that
problem was solved. Time. Thank you. Question. As a non-binary
identified student, I’d like to problematize
the gender binary in this discussion,
and I feel like I and other trans students
often feel like we’re falling through the cracks. Dr, Tilghman mentioned before
that when schools started going co-ed the
problem wasn’t just there weren’t proper
bathrooms, there were all these other issues too. And I feel like that’s
still, in many ways, the situation for cis-gendered
women in college universities, but it’s also the situation
for queer students, especially trans students. And so even in the
very architecture of most of the buildings
on this campus, there’s a fundamental
assumption that’s being made about what my gender
is, how that relates to the sex I was assigned at my
birth, and what that means about how I use the bathroom. And so I’d like to ask where
we fall into your thoughts on this matter and
this conversation? You know, I can answer that, and
I think it’s a great question. Honestly, when I
was in college, we were just starting to talk
about people who were gay. That was about where we
were, and that’s still a very binary concept. And then I saw– it’s
funny, I went to Swarthmore, and then my son went through
Swarthmore– and through him and his partner, I’ve learned
just a tremendous amount about the issues that
you’re talking about. So I do think that
this is the next wave, and it’s a welcome wave. So it takes a while for
people of the next generation up to figure out the
language that you’re using and why it’s important. You get a lot of
questions, I’m sure. But I think with
enough conversation, you can make progress. It sinks in. So I’m glad you
asked the question. Which side was I on? OK. Over here. Sorry. Hi. Thank you so much
for being here. My question is about
ambition, and I was wondering if what
your experience was, I see that a lot of women who
are talented, when they get into a situation
maybe in the middle or the early part
of their careers where they’re faced
with an opportunity, but along with that opportunity
comes a lot of– polite way to say this– a lot of junk, a
lot of work that doesn’t have value, a lot of problems
that are just problems, and they’re not an opportunity. And they have to
stick with it if they want to get up to say where
you are, or to the next level. And I was wondering if you
ever had that situation where you had to, you just didn’t
want to do that work, it wasn’t valuable, what
you were doing at the lower level was more
valuable, but you had to pass through a
middle layer that was more administrative and
more I’d say less valuable, and how did you deal with that? I’m going to let my
colleagues answer that as you asked, since I never
passed through a middle layer. I went right from being a newly
tenured associate professor to being president,
which had its strengths and its drawbacks. But I wanted to answer
your question in a slightly different way, and
to use it as a spring back to the question about why
there were not women scientists and now there are. Time is part of the answer,
but it’s also encouragement, education from the beginning. I think about my
granddaughters who are really interested
in science, who are being encouraged and
supported in their schools, and women are supposed to
do this instead of women can’t be physicists, or
economists, or whatever it is. And so it’s time, but it’s also
deliberate education and focus. And I think the same thing
is true with ambition. I think girls,
generally, are still not expected to be ambitious,
or trained to be ambitious, whereas, most guys are. And like science, to
know that you can do it, and that it’s all right, and
that there will be some scut work that comes with
the exciting stuff, even in the quote “top jobs.” Because you don’t all
leave it all behind you when you get to the
president’s desk. But for girls to
be trained to think of ambition as a feminine
activity like science now for many girls I think
is an important step. I’ve often thought about
how ambition figured in my life because
of my generation, and I wonder if this is
generalizable to the two of you as well, which is
for any one of us to have had an ambition
to be president of a major university would
have been kind of unimaginable when we were little children. And so I don’t think
that we probably had our careers guided by
a sense of where we wanted to arrive, and one of
the wonderful things about everything
that’s changed is that little girls can
imagine themselves in all kinds of roles now. But that also means that there’s
something to lose in a sense, and I think for us, coming along
when we did, for each of us, it opened up that it was
there could be a woman president of Duke when you
became, and when you became, and so forth. And so now maybe there’s
some young woman somewhere who thinks, I want to
be president of Harvard, and will try to organize her
life around that, and will or won’t become president of
Harvard or Duke or Princeton. And so it’s different, ambition
figures differently now I think because people can have
more sense of possibility. Hooray. But also then have to drive
themselves in a narrow way. It was just an enormous
and wonderful surprise and unimaginable that I ever
became president of Harvard. And so it wasn’t something
that I had to risk, in a sense. Does that make sense
in terms of your life? Absolutely. Absolutely. So sadly, I think
we only have time for maybe two more
questions, so what I was going to ask was the
two people at the microphones on each side, why don’t you
both ask your questions, and then we can have one
more round of discussion, but we’ll get both
questions at once. So there’s a theme here
of women in science, and I’m a scientist who’s on
the faculty of a medical school, and when I joined my first
promotions committee to promote someone from assistant professor
to associate professors, they had some training come
in to tell us the rules, and afterward someone
said, one of the problems that we have to
overcome is that women are promoted for
what they’ve done, and men are promoted
for their potential. And so I wanted to know–
not at my medical school, but that’s a problem that
comes in that people tend to just gravitate
towards– and I was wondering if you think
that remains a problem. Good. And one more. Justice. Thank you for that question. So my concern is we’ve
heard a lot about childcare, and I think that’s extremely
important, but women of color have been taking care
of their own children and white women’s
children for centuries, and then there’s also trans
women who often don’t even get in the workplace, because
they’re barred from entry. And so I’m wondering if you can
speak to concerns about women who don’t necessarily
fall into this situation– queer women, trans
women, women of color, combinations of those
different identities– and if you can really talk to
what are their glass ceilings, and how can we
help them as well. Thank you. So two very different questions. Who wants to start with what? I guess I’m a little
mystified by the dichotomy the question over
here posed about women at a time of promotion
being judged by what they’ve done whereas men being judged
by what they are or have the potential to
do in the future. That’s just not
been my experience. And I chaired every tenure
and promotion and appointment case at Princeton
for 12 years, and I– maybe I haven’t thought
about it deeply enough– but I didn’t see that particular
phenomenon playing out in the cases that I oversaw. I wanted to respond
to the other question by recognizing that
you’ve reminded us, we use the term “women” as
though everybody was all the same, and we
know that’s not true, that women have many
different ways of navigating in the world, and you’ve
mentioned several. So the way we’ve been
generalizing about women, feminists have learned, I think
if we stop to reflect on it, that that’s just not a wise
thing to do in many instances. In other instances,
there are ways in which women,
however different they may be in some
respects, do share some kinds of either
they’re treated similarly or they have some similar
ways of looking at the world, but you’re right to
remind us that women are a diverse category,
and we shouldn’t generalize too much as probably
we have been doing tonight. And in particular, if you think
about the issue of child care, this is a problem for women who
are aspiring to be professors in universities, can you
only imagine the challenge for someone who is in
a low-income job trying to raise a child or children
on the kind of low-income wages that are still a
part of our economy? It’s very important
to remember that. It’s an extraordinary challenge. Your question made me think
about looking at the issue from the point of view of who
is going to care for children, and how are children
going to be cared for, and you made a remark
about do we as a society care about our children? We need to have a society in
which people of every variety can work and find,
we hope, fulfillment in that work, and
remuneration in that work, and that’s a challenge
as you point out, they’re people for
whom work is either unavailable or
exploitative and awful, so we need to think about that. But how do we make
that work together with the commitment of
individuals to have families and to raise
children and the need in societies to support
those children robustly? So the complexities
of that were very much outlined in your question. And care more generally,
care for your partners, care for your aged parents,
care for your friends. And I think that’s important. Really, the rubber hits
the road with childcare for a variety of
reasons, but having a society that values
caregiving more fundamentally. And just to go back to what
Louise said about the 80 hour work week, I think
in many professions it’s expected that
you should always be available to work at any
time of the day or night, and if you put limits
on that, you’re going to put limits
on your opportunities. And then the other end of
the economic spectrum, you work 80 hours because you’ve
got to work six different jobs in order to make ends meet. So how do we think about
work in this society so that we don’t have
everybody with 80 hour week expectations or
necessities so that there is time for the children
who are the next generation and the future. Amen. Very good way to end. I want to thank all
of you for coming. Thank you, Chris. I really appreciate it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *