Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2022

Looking at the history of Hopkins work culture

By ADDY PERLMAN | November 7, 2019

COURTESY OF ELIZABETH IM After reading an article from 1976, Perlman saw similarities to today.

This week I held a document from 1976. What did you do?

Have you ever noticed that glass room in the library with all the leather-bound books and the old-fashioned Hopkins sweater? I didn’t until this year, when I finally started exploring the archives. And then I came across an article written by April Moreno, a senior at Hopkins in 1976, so here is my response.

You were right; you predicted the future when you wrote, “competition at Hopkins was, is and perhaps always will be, intense.”

As a junior Krieger School of Arts and Sciences student in 2019, I have had similar experiences, and I will even admit that I have not ventured into Baltimore nearly as much as I should have. Many of my friends have not either, and most of the time, our excuse is that we are too busy. Reading about your concerns in 1976 that I share today in 2019 means that in over 40 years nothing has changed.

But I have been rather fortunate. And I, along with the other women at this school, owe you, and many others, a big thank you for helping to pave the way for women at Hopkins. I also want to thank you for speaking about it.

You wrote, “It took me about three days to realize that Hopkins did not know how to handle women. My class was the third with women enrolled, and women were a previously unknown commodity even in the graduate divisions.”

Women first enrolled at Hopkins in 1970, and in 1976, your senior year, Hopkins still had not adjusted to having women on campus. One statement in your article should have floored me, but the more I have learned about the history of women at Hopkins, the less I am surprised.

You said, “As one teaching assistant said to his class (20 men and myself), ‘Women at Hopkins are freaks.’”

I cannot imagine what attending Hopkins was like in 1976. Thank you for being a part of one of the classes that endured comments like this and faced obstacles that are difficult to even fathom. Thank you for being a part of the “spunky minority” of women that helped to shape our school because now 54 percent of the student population is comprised of women. This happened because of articles like yours. You shared with the world the reality of being a woman at Hopkins. While seeing women on campus is no longer a rarity, seeing stressed students who spend all their free time in the library is an everyday occurrence.

Last week, in his News-Letter op-ed “We need to make more time for each other,” Keidai Lee emphasized the importance of taking the time to make connections with people.

Lee said, “I promise you two minutes (maybe less) is all it takes.”

If we are struggling to find two minutes to talk to each other, how will we ever be productive members of society? I hope we can start next semester spending a little less time bent over our books and more time interacting with each other.

Unfortunately, the culture of “eat, study, stress” has not disappeared. People still make jokes to “ease the tension” surrounding the 10-page papers that are due and the Biochem tests that are turning study cubes into mini homes. We are still constantly worrying about our grades, graduate school or securing a job right after college. You wrote about it in 1976, and Lee and I are writing about it in 2019. I fear, like you seemed to, that it will never change, but hopefully in 40 years, someone will write a response to me to say that I was wrong.

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