Diane Eileen Scola, class of 1959


Diane Eileen Scola’s oral history is an example of autonomy and feminist conviction despite gender discrimination. She begins her interview discussing her Italian-American family background, applying to college, academics at Pembroke, and commuting to school.

In Part 2, Scola focuses on gender expectations in academia and the professional world, and the lack of women role models at Pembroke College. She considers the expectation for women to get married, have children, and stay at home in suburbia, blaming society for placing limits on women. Also in Part 2, she touches on traditions of Pembroke and her feelings about the merger. Scola transitions to considering her life after graduation. She began dating a pharmaceutical representative from New York, whom she had met through Brown’s graduate center, and became pregnant. While her father told her she didn’t have to marry him, and that she had options (including abortion) regarding her pregnancy, she married him in 1960 and had her first daughter. Scola discusses her decision to get married and have a child, and her consequent unhappiness with domesticity. Scola reflects on this time, and her decision to divorce her husband.

In Part 3, Scola talks about her life after her divorce, starting a career in teaching, and fighting gender wage discrimination. She considers the limits she faced in teaching, where as a woman she could not aspire to leadership roles, and her transition to the business world. Scola concludes her interview by reflecting on her two daughters and the sacrifices inherent in being a single mother and a career woman in her time.

See also: 50th Reunion, class of 1959

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Recorded on May 25, 1988 at Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, Brown University, Providence, RI.
Interviewed by Lisa Cummings

Suggested Chicago style citation: Scola, Diane Eileen. Interview. By Lisa Cummings. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. May 25, 1988.


Diane Eileen Scola was born in Rhode Island and brought up in a Roman Catholic household. Her father owned a jewelry company, and her mother was a housewife in their close-knit Italian-American family. Scola attended high school in Providence before attending Pembroke College, where she studied American civics. Upon her graduation in 1959, she was offered a job at Douglas Aircraft in Hartford. But her father wanted her to stay at home. As a woman in an Italian American family, she was not permitted to join the family business, and instead got a job at a department store in Providence.

She married a pharmaceutical representative from New York in 1960, and had two children with him. They divorced in 1964, and with two children aged 1 and 3, Scola became a schoolteacher in English. She discovered she loved teaching, and earned a Master’s degree in English from the University of Rhode Island in 1969 to supplement her career. Scola faced gender discrimination in her wages, and when she demanded to be paid as much as her male counterparts, many of whom did not have a Master’s degree, she was told to leave her position.

Looking for a career where she had opportunities to both satisfy her aspirations and earn a good wage so that she could support her daughters, she moved from a teaching career to business one. Finding that she still did not have leadership opportunities, she started her own jewelry company in 1979 with her brother. Scola divorced her second husband and financed both of her daughters’ college educations on her own.