Among its peers, the University of Pennsylvania is a leader in throwing open the doors of higher education to women. One of the things that really makes Penn extraordinary, notes SAS associate dean Rebecca Bushnell, is that theres this tradition of women here. She remembers hearing about Princeton and Yale going co-ed as she prepared for undergraduate study at Swarthmore College in the late 60s. That we were the first Ivy to have a female president, I dont think thats a historical accident.
Over the 125 years of women at Penn, dramatic, sometimes painful, changes have taken place. Judith Roth Berkowitz, CW64, a university trustee and committee chair for this falls 125-year celebration, watched some of the changes unfold as the pace quickened when she was an undergraduate in the College for Women. When I first came to Penn in 1960, there were no women allowed on the Daily Pennsylvanian. When I left, a woman was an editor.
She recalls that women were permitted to enroll in any course the men could. In a biology class she took, Berkowitz was one of a handful of women in the lab. I loved it, she says. I never felt as if that was a problem. The only problem I had was when we dissected the fetal pig. The chemical preservative made her eyes water, and her contact lens dropped into the pigs stomach. That was a problem.
Today Arts and Sciences alumnae work in every area of business, academe, government, science, and the arts. I think women have different expectations about their place at the university and their place in the universe, Berkowitz remarks. They are equal partners at the table now. Theres nothing to stop them.
In this issue of PENN Arts & Sciences,
we mount our own celebration of some extraordinary SAS women. As for the
catcaller, thats not a problem. An old DP article reports
that several College women took care of him with a plate of potato salad
some 30 years ago.