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Yale Needs Women


How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant
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Brewster Kingman was the biggest obstacle to gender equity at Yale. What was your opinion of his intransigence on this issue? Are obstacles like Kingman still an issue in academia? Perhaps in certain disciplines?

Created: 06/29/21

Replies: 11

Posted Jun. 29, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
smallino

Join Date: 06/06/21

Posts: 21

Kingman Brewster was an obstacle to gender equity at Yale. What was your opinion of his intransigence on this issue? Are obstacles like Kingman still an issue in academia?

While Brewster was obviously a strong leader and brilliant mind, his refusal to accept women as equals was truly shocking. I had forgotten that there were brilliant men who actually felt this way. It brought back unpleasant memories of a time when expectations for women were marriage, motherhood, and housekeeping. His support of institutions like Mory's created impossible barriers for the young women and junior faculty at Yale. His insensitivity towards protecting the young women, leaving them open to insecure living arrangements, sexual assault and dangers walking within the Yale community is hard to fathom. I hope things of changed, but have they?


Posted Jun. 30, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
labbelee

Join Date: 04/29/11

Posts: 26

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

I believe, unfortunately that there are still a number of “Brewster Kingmans” out there.


Posted Jun. 30, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Harley's Mom

Join Date: 02/21/19

Posts: 32

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

Kingman Brewster was a glaring example of the misogynistic breed of men in powerful positions who did everything they could to keep women from rising to equal status with men in the business world and academia. I think he and his kind were a major inspiration for the women's movement. While he gave lip service to making Yale coeducational, we know he only did so because Yale enrollment was going down. I believe he felt women had no place at Yale and probably couldn't see why they needed a college education at all. Unfortunately men like this still exist in the business and academic worlds but I don't think they're as prevalent as they were in Brewster's time.


Posted Jun. 30, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RuthEh

Join Date: 07/31/17

Posts: 55

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

I was mad and disappointed in Brewster Kingman. What a jerk, for being the head of a major university one would think he had the brains and education to see the benefits of women to Yale's campus. Although considering the attitudes in the 60's-70's he was being the man! I was of college age then and truly was discriminated against when applying to many universities.


Posted Jun. 30, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Karolyn

Join Date: 06/30/21

Posts: 4

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

I work for a state university and Brewster Kingman types of men are still very much alive and well. I find it a bit depressing that when women are named as department heads or other leadership positions it is still noteworthy and a bit of an anomaly. I was also curious about Brewster's wife as to whether she had any voice, presence or respect on campus. What about other faculty wives?


Posted Jul. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
smallino

Join Date: 06/06/21

Posts: 21

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

Unfortunately, I think many of the faculty wives were marginalized. I know my mentor and boss for 20+ years, an eminent plant biologist, could not get a faculty position at Yale because her husband was a tenured biology professor. She filled various assistant and postdoctoral positions until recruited by the National Science Foundation as a program manager. She went on to become a Director at the agency and never returned to Yale. Some of her policies, such as requiring women on review committees equal to their numbers in the field, had a major impact on future women in leadership positions.


Posted Jul. 01, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolynd

Join Date: 05/16/11

Posts: 35

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

Sadly, the world will never run out of Kingman Brewster's. Need look no further than the Trump years. Brewster consistently managed to lead from the back and not rock the boat.


Posted Jul. 08, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 314

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

I must admit that I was surprised by Kingman's attitude ONLY because he was presented to us as such a "liberal". One of the reasons I can think of for his horrendous behavior and refusal to act (and in many ways even acknowledge the women students) as a positive, supportive collaborator is MONEY! Kingman needed the alumni to donate to Yale. If older (and therefore wealthier) alumni were against the idea of a coed Yale, they would spend their money elsewhere. I have no reason to think that men in powerful positions have changed much over the past 50 years. I do question how much of the "refusal to change" or do what is right is motivated more by money than other factors. Look what just happened to Nikole Hannah Jones at the University of North Carolina. Was her tenure an issue because she was a woman or because a wealthy DONOR did not like her ideas?


Posted Jul. 17, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 114

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

Even though Brewster Kingman was willing to change in regard to some things, I think the issue of women at Yale was just too much outside his experience for him to ever think it was a good idea. I think this is still and issue and not just in academia. I have witnessed it on a number of occasions where women's ideas are just pushed to the side because a woman came up with it. Not sure this type of man will ever completely go away.


Posted Jul. 18, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marks

Join Date: 02/25/19

Posts: 52

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

I found Kingman to be a disappointing character. As mentioned in another response, he is presented as a "liberal" who seemed to recognize the importance of making the transition to coed, but he turned out to be somewhat like the great ad powerful Oz. Once you got a look behind the curtain, you realized that he was much smaller than he seemed. Unfortunately, I agree that there are still Kingmans lurking about in many institutions (both educational and otherwise). I sometimes wonder if they are aware of their chauvinism or just ignorant. As a male, I truly enjoyed hearing about the experiences of these trailblazers from an entirely female perspective. The authenticity was impossible to ignore.


Posted Jul. 25, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tarablythe

Join Date: 01/14/21

Posts: 5

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

I was obviously disappointed in Brewster Kingman as a person. But not surprised. There's still so many Brewster Kingman's out there today... too many, really.


Posted Jul. 28, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marianned

Join Date: 07/02/15

Posts: 91

RE: Brewster Kingman was the biggest ...

Are there still Kingman Brewsters in the academic world? Probably, but I suspect theirs actions are more subtle. Brewster’s background as part of an elite Old Boys network made it hard for him to see the need for change. Furthermore, he felt he had to take the temperature of the Board of Trustees and follow their lead. Without his approval, begrudging though it ultimately was, Yale was not going to admit women. It didn’t happen quickly.


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