Karla Jay is a professor of English and the director of the Women's and Gender Studies program at Pace University. A pioneer in the field of lesbian and gay studies, she is widely published. Jay was born Karla Jayne Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, to a conservative Jewish family. She attended the Berkeley Institute, a private girls' school in Brooklyn now called the Berkeley Carroll School. Later she attended Barnard College, where she majored in French, and graduated in 1968 after having taken part in the student demonstrations at Columbia University. While she shared many of the goals of the radical left-wing of the late 1960s, Jay was uncomfortable with the male-supremacist behavior of many of the movement’s leaders. In 1969, she became a member of Redstockings. At around the same time she began using the name Karla Jay to reflect her feminist principles.