Alumnae Bulletin
Novenber 2010

From the Editor

The education of women and girls "is as close as you can get to a silver bullet" for global problems such as poverty, climate change, public health, sanitation, terrorism and civil conflict, says New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Kristof spoke at "Heritage and Hope: Women's Education in a Global Context," a conference held at Bryn Mawr September 23 to 25 as part of the College's 125th anniversary.

Participants looked to historically female-focused schools and organizations in the United States and overseas for the next steps to take in redressing persistant inequalities and injustices. See pages 22 to 35 and President Jane McAuliffe's column on page 21 for coverage.

A play performed on October 29 in honor of the College's anniversary dramatized circumstances 2,500 years ago that remain the reality for girls and women in many parts of the world

The Women Upstairs, written by Gwen Davis '54, imagines what the wives and daughters were doing while Socrates, Aristophanes, Alcibiades, and others discussed the meaning of love at the drinking party recounted in Plato's Symposium. "Welcome to ancient Athens," read the program notes. "Here are the rules: Men marry only to have sons. Girl babies are often put out on hillsides. Women are allowed to leave their houses only for funerals and religious festivals. They are not taught to read or write, except for the whores and slaves, since no one expects them to think."

Looking for a way, just once, to be men's equal, the women invoke the goddess Demeter, who tells them, "Days will come when there are miracles…to make women whole." They realize that the key is the Delphic saying, "Know thyself"—that is, knowing your values and being willing to fight for them.

The Women Upstairs was performed by Greasepaint Productions, a bi-college student-run musical theater company.

Davis wrote the play in 1987 as a writer in residence at Bryn Mawr, working with the late Greek scholar Mabel L. Lang, Ph.D. '41, who died on July 21 (see page 3).

When the play was finished, Davis took a basket of flowers to Lang "in her Dickensian office, books piled to the ceiling, to thank her," Davis recalls. " 'But I should be giving something to you,' Mabel trilled, 'I've never done anything creative before.' And with that she took the basket and actually danced around the room."