Pinstripes and Pearls
In 1964, Judith Richards Hope, author of Pinstripes and Pearls, graduated with fifteen other women (out of a class of 513) from Harvard Law School (HLS). The women of the class of 1964 were not the first group of women to graduate from HLS, but are known as "the class on which the stars fell" because of their extraordinary professional success (p. 224). Among her many achievements, Hope was the first woman named associate director of the White House Domestic Council in 1975, served on the boards of some of the world’s largest corporations, and is the first woman in over 350 years to sit on Harvard University’s governing board. Hope’s classmates included Pat Scott Schroeder, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, and Judith Rogers, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the country’s second-highest court.
Pinstripes and Pearls is Hope’s personal account of the class of 1964, but it is far more than a memoir. She draws from personal interviews, correspondence, archival sources, and her own recollections to document the educational, personal, and professional struggles of her classmates. She describes the responses of HLS’s administrators, professors, and male students to women on campus and details the strategies the women devised to cope with the combined pressures of law school, marriage, and societal expectations. Hope is fiercely proud of her classmates and their achievements, but honestly portrays the compromises and mistakes they made as they sought to be both lawyers and women — what she refers to as their struggle to wear both pinstripes and pearls.
Hope details the various ways gender influenced the educational experience of the women of 1964. She describes how the women were forced to waste precious minutes during exams to race to one of only two women’s bathrooms on the large campus. She also recounts that HLS lacked housing for women and crowded them together in a small, dingy residence hall. Hope provides anecdotes of surly men who refused to sit with women in the cafeteria, thus relegating the women to a few welcoming tables, and professors who assigned all the women students to a block of seats in the front row. Hope observes that the isolation of the women as a group ironically facilitated their creation of supportive personal and academic networks. Unlike their male classmates, the women exchanged class notes, and older women students coached their younger colleagues on professors’ techniques, classroom recitation, and how to handle antagonistic men (p. 33). Hope’s chapter describing the way the women dealt with their property law professor, "Pappy" Leach, showcases their collective creativity in dealing with overt sexism.
Hope follows her classmates after graduation to elucidate the ways the women confronted law firms that simply did not hire women, and details the strategies they used to tenaciously build their careers. Hope describes the quick realization of many classmates that simultaneously being a mother, wife, and lawyer was an impossible task. As a result, some of the women left their high-pressure private-sector jobs, while others deferred childbearing or hired housekeepers and baby sitters. Hope poignantly describes one of her own coping strategies to successfully combine her responsibilities in the Ford White House with motherhood. She recalls,
I learned to fudge: I was never officially at a parent conference; I was always "at an appointment out of the office." I was never at home with my children when they were sick; I was always "working at home"; . . . And, I was never having my hair done or shopping; I was always "doing research in the field." (p. 197)
Hope organizes her chapters into short segments to focus on individuals, and as a result many of the overarching themes that are embedded in the women’s stories are not made explicit. Nevertheless, Pinstripes and Pearls richly documents a pioneering cohort of professional women. Hope provides an invaluable contribution to the fields of women’s educational history and the history of women in the law. Pinstripes and Pearls will be of interest to women struggling in any male-dominated profession to earn, as Hope puts it, "a place at the table" (p. 225).
J. de F.