As part of the 50th anniversary of coeducation in Yale College and the 150th anniversary of women students at the University, the Department of Economics would like to recognize all of its female alumnae and highlight a few. To date, more than 350 women have received Ph.D.s in Economics, and nearly 1700 alumnae have graduated with B.A.s in the major.
Women at Yale in Economics
Phyllis Ann Wallace was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate of economics at Yale University. She earned an M.A. from Yale in 1944, and later a Ph.D. in 1948. Before attending Yale, she attended New York University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1943. She went on to pursue a career in international economics with encouragement from her Yale economics professor and having worked at a federal-defense agency.
After leaving Yale, Dr. Wallace joined the National Bureau of Economic Research as an economist/statistician, while also teaching part-time at the College of the City of New York. From 1953 to 1957, she served on the faculty of Atlanta University while also becoming a senior economist for the US government specializing in Soviet economic studies.
Dr. Wallace became chief of technical studies at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Office of Research from 1966 to 1969. From 1969 to 1972, she was vice president of research for the Metropolitan Applied Research Center. After serving as a visiting professor at MIT Sloan School, in 1975 she became the first woman to hold the rank of professor at the School. There she continued her work in these areas. After her retirement, she agreed to spend six months helping then Sloan School Dean Lester Thurow improve the School’s response to sexual harassment problems.
Dr. Wallace was the first African American and the first female president of the Industrial Relations Research Association. She also garnered several awards for her accomplishments, including National Economic Association’s Westerfield Award in 1981, and awards from several universities, including Yale and Brown.
Courtesy MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research/MIT Museum
Janet Yellen was the first female chair of the Federal Reserve Board, serving from 2014-2018. Dr. Yellen graduated summa cum laude from Brown University with a degree in economics in 1967, and received her Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University in 1971.
She was awarded the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale Alumni Association in 1997 for distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, served as an alumni fellow on the Yale Corporation from 2000-2006, and was given an Honorary Doctor of Social Science degree in 2015.
Dr. Yellen is Professor Emerita at the University of California at Berkeley where she was the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics where she has been a faculty member since 1980. Prior to Berkeley, she was assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.
Dr. Yellen served as Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton from 1997-1999, Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2004-2010, and Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board from 2010-2014. Currently, she is a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, and was appointed Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 2012, for which she served as a Vice President (2004-2005), and where she is currently President-Elect.
Her scholarship has covered a range of macroeconomic issues, with a special focus on the causes, mechanisms, and implications of unemployment. She has authored numerous articles, as well as The Fabulous Decade: Macroeconomic Lessons from the 1990s, with Alan Blinder.
Heidi Hartmann is the founder, President Emerita, and Senior Research Economist at the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), a scientific research organization that focuses on women-centered, policy-oriented research. Dr. Hartmann is also a Distinguished Economist In-Residence for Gender and Economic Analysis at American University and serves as the Editor of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.
After earning a B.A. from Swarthmore College, Dr. Hartmann attended graduate school at Yale and received her M. Phil. in 1972 and Ph.D in 1974, both in Economics.
Prior to founding IWPR, Dr. Hartmann was on the faculties of Rutgers University and the New School for Social Research and worked at the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1994, Dr. Hartmann was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship Award for her work in the field of women and economics. She is the recipient of two honorary degrees. She was named a Charlotte Perkins Gilman Fellow by the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2014, and in 2017 she received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association.
Courtesy IWPR/Photo Chet Susslin