I enrolled in my first economics course in 1963, my freshman year at Wellesley College, which was then, and still is, only for women. On the first day of class, my thirty freshman classmates and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our teacher. When she entered the classroom, she immediately announced that, as the chair of the department, she got to choose which section to teach, and she chose ours. Her intent was to share with us her excitement about the field and to send a signal that economics was very much an appropriate field for women. The teacher was Carolyn Shaw Bell, who later founded the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. That first course inspired me to join the ranks of Wellesley FEMs – her term for female economics majors. Little did I understand at the time the intellectual opportunities that were then opening up for me.
My Life History
I was raised as a provincial New Englander. My parents, all my grandparents, and many of my great-grandparents lived in New England, with most of them spending much of their lives in the Boston area. The men in the family all went to Harvard College, and my mother and two of my aunts went to Wellesley College in a Boston suburb. It was clear to me that Boston was the center of the universe, and for men a Harvard degree was the key to a successful life. When I was ready for college, the choice was obvious. I applied early decision to Wellesley, without considering any other place. Later when I was ready for graduate school, I applied only to Harvard.