Pinstripes & Pearls: The Women of the Harvard Law Class of '64 Who Forged an Old Girl Network and Paved the Way for Future Generations

Pinstripes & Pearls: The Women of the Harvard Law Class of '64 Who Forged an Old Girl Network and Paved the Way for Future Generations

by Judith Richards Hope

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"[W]e didn't fully understand what we were getting into -- what obstacles we would encounter, what trails we would blaze....We just knew, from an early age, that we wanted both to serve our country, help make our world a little better and a little safer -- just like our fathers and our brothers -- and to marry; rear honest, happy children; and lead fulfilling…  See more details below


"[W]e didn't fully understand what we were getting into -- what obstacles we would encounter, what trails we would blaze....We just knew, from an early age, that we wanted both to serve our country, help make our world a little better and a little safer -- just like our fathers and our brothers -- and to marry; rear honest, happy children; and lead fulfilling personal lives -- just like our mothers."

-- from the Introduction

To illustrate the challenges facing women of her generation, author Judith Richards Hope describes the lives and careers of a handful of barrier-breaking women, including herself, from Harvard Law School's pivotal class of 1964, who fought and overcame preconceptions and prejudices against their entering what, at the time, was a male vocation. Despite their struggles in law school and in the workplace, they maintained their ambition and ultimately achieved remarkable success. They look back on law school as a time of enormous personal and intellectual growth.

In 1961, before modern civil rights legislation and women's liberation, women were generally regarded as undesirable candidates for law studies. Most law firms believed that women couldn't keep up the pace, that they couldn't avoid emotional outbursts, and that their place was in the home. Nonetheless, 48 women applied to Harvard Law that year, 22 were accepted, and 15 graduated in a class of 513. The rigorous training at Harvard Law taught these women to survive and to thrive in one of the toughest, most competitive professions in the country. It took grit, confidence, resourcefulness, thick skins, and a certain irreverence for them to succeed. These qualities propelled Judith Richards Hope and her classmates into some of the most prominent careers of their generation, yet they did not sacrifice their more traditional female roles. Their achievements have helped pave the way for women of subsequent generations.

Pinstripes & Pearls illuminates the extraordinary trajectories of these women -- among them Pat Schroeder, Judith W. Rogers, and Hope herself -- who forged an old-girl network and became lifelong friends. Through compelling and often witty anecdotes, unprecedented archival research of Harvard records, and revealing testaments to the difficulties faced by women harboring serious career goals, Pinstripes & Pearls personifies in these women the emergence of a new type of American female, one whose "goal is to reach the destination, not just to avoid humiliation on the way."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Lynne Cheney Author of America: A Patriotic Primer The women in Harvard Law's class of 1964 were pioneers, and Judith Richards Hope has done us all a favor by recording their lives. She sets forth their stories in fascinating detail, from the early sense of discontent that these women felt for the role society had assigned them, to the matter-of-fact ways in which they dealt with the sexist worlds of law school and the legal profession. As Hope tells it, these women were not complainers. They didn't sue and they didn't march. Instead, they coolly measured the obstacles they faced and tried to surmount them, usually successfully, but not always. Hope's honest account of the conflicts these bright women faced as they tried to balance professional and personal lives speaks eloquently to the challenges that young women professionals still face today.

Andrea Mitchell Chief foreign correspondent, NBC News, and trustee, University of Pennsylvania Pinstripes & Pearls is both a poignant history of the struggles of the women in the Harvard Law School class of 1964 and an eye-opening read for new generations of women trying to navigate their professional and personal worlds. One of the enduring lessons is how reinforcing and supportive these women are to each other, against obstacles that today's graduates would find overwhelming. This account is an important history of a critical time in America as well as a unique testimony to one woman's intelligence and grit.

Judith Areen Dean, Georgetown University Law Center, and author of Cases and Materials on Family Law This book is a must-read for women considering law school and for those who have already graduated. These women faced daunting barriers and personal hardship, yet they persevered. Their stories reveal the good news that it is possible to find our way through the pain of discrimination with humor rather than self-pity, and joy rather than bitterness.

Charles Fried Beneficial Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and author of Right and Wrong and Contract as Promise A tough and tender look at how we were, how we are, and how we got from one to the other. Fascinating for those who have made the journey, this book has lessons for those who haven't had to.

Publishers Weekly
Hope was one of 15 women (out of 513 students) who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1964. She went on to become the first female partner at a leading corporate law firm. This book, based primarily on her classmates' and professors' recollections, as well as yearbooks and other archival material, offers sketches of the women at different stages of their careers, starting with their first days at Harvard and ending with their musings on retirement. Of applying to law firms, Pat Schroeder recalls, "Almost all of them asked me if I could type. Many said they did not and would not hire a woman." Elizabeth Dole remembers working in the school's library while getting her master's degree in teaching at Radcliffe. After spending a year observing Hope and her classmates and grilling Hope about "how a woman could straddle... the huge chasm between the traditional career world... and the traditional world of home and family," she changed career goals and graduated from Harvard Law in 1965. Hope doesn't probe too deeply into her colleagues' personal lives; nor does she draw conclusions about how these women's aspirations paved the way for future generations. She lets the memories speak for themselves. The most vivid chapter describes a dinner hosted by the school's dean, Erwin Griswold, where the guest list included all of the women in each class (and none of the men), along with selected faculty and their wives. After dinner, the students were called upon, one by one, to answer Griswold's horrifying question, "Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?" Photos. Agent, Mel Berger. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Aren’t-we-fabulous history of the women of Harvard Law ’64, from one of their own. There were only 15 women in the class, out of 525, but a good number of them rose to positions of authority and notice, Pat Schroeder and Judith Wilson Rogers among them. Little here explains just how the actions of these woman "paved the way for future generations" (indeed, at one point Hope credits that "the men who recruited me flew directly against the prevailing wisdom. . . . They broke a hole in the glass ceiling not only for me, but for legions"), for Hope proceeds by way of a linear historical narrative rather than through more manipulable exposition. Even to her, the women’s contributions seem less important than the fact that they got to sit "at the table" with the big boys. The bluster never gets put aside—"my law school class, which I referred to—then and now—as the legendary Harvard Law School Class of 1964," that "remarkable and gutsy handful of women"—to allow for any revealing glimpses of just how these women responded to the hermetic world once they were in the fraternity of privilege. Hope’s rendering of her law school days reads like The Paper Chase, and the rundown of her classmates’ professional careers is mechanical, while the stories of those who left law altogether—whose tales might be particularly telling—are given short shrift. Most powerful is Hope’s admission that she blew it as a mother: "I failed at trying to do it all." Her son calls her "a woman without needs," while her daughter remembers "a woman who went to law school with a blazing sense of justice, now representing the Mob, now prosecuting the Mob, now working for giant corporations." Giveher honesty a round of applause. When sitting at the table is more important than what’s done at the table: the story fails to hold.

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