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Honoring Our Founders: Myra Strober

Myra Strober

"Myra's vision and leadership are why were are all here today," Clayman Institute Faculty Director Shelley Correll said in her opening remarks at the Institute's May 2018 Honoring Our Founders event, "and why the work of what is now called the Clayman Institute continues." Correll observed that Strober laid the groundwork for the Institute's decades of cutting-edge gender research and milestones: "Myra's ambition, in particular the link between research and social change that she put at the center of our work, has been the engine of my directorship and that of the nine other directors."

Strober's founding of the Institute began in 1974, when a small group of Stanford women came together to build a university center that could harness the power of empirical research about women in order to promote gender equality. Students Beth Garfield, Susan Heck, and Cynthia Russell met at the office of then Stanford Business School Professor Myra Strober , and they mapped out a plan. This foursome worked tirelessly over the next several months to turn their dream into reality. They managed to win support from faculty and staff, as well as the backing of the woman who would become the Institute's de facto guardian angel, Jing Lyman, the wife of then Stanford President Richard Lyman.

In 1974, the Stanford Center for Research on Women (CROW) opened its doors, with Strober as its first director. She served until 1976 and then again from 1979 to 1984. She continues her involvement in the Institute not only as a member of the Advisory Council, but also as a valued peer, faculty emerita, and mentor to the Institute's fellows.

Director Shelley Correll

Over one hundred people—Institute staff and affiliates, as well as treasured colleagues throughout Strober's career—gathered at the Stanford Faculty Club to celebrate Myra Strober, her work ethic and her commitment to gender equality through gender research. Correll's opening remarks were followed by a series of testimonies of Strober's excellence. Cynthia Russell, one of the three students who co-founded the Institute with Strober, and a current Clayman Institute Advisory Council member, spoke about her work and friendship with Stober through the past four decades: "I am so pleased that Myra has been recognized for her courage and commitment in founding what is now known as the Clayman Institute," she said. "Myra has always believed that an interdisciplinary center devoted to research on women could be viable at Stanford and it is thrilling to see how successful the Institute has become. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to begin my career working with Myra when the Institute was launched and to call her a close friend to this day."

It may be difficult in 2018 to fully appreciate the significance of what Myra did
Iris F. Litt
Former Clayman Institute Faculty Director

Michelle R. Clayman, AC Chair; Director Shelley J. Correll; Esther Koch; and Deborah Byron, AC member

Director of Programs Shivani Mehta; Executive Director Lori Nishiura Mackenzie; Associate Director Alison Dahl Crossley; and Christine Min Wotipka, former faculty research fellow

At the time, it was not the kind of thing a young woman just starting out, and one of the first women in the business school, would get any credit or recognition for doing. Myra did it anyway
Barbara Babcock
Nannerl Keohane

"It may be difficult in 2018 to fully appreciate the significance of what Myra did," former Clayman Institute Faculty Director Iris F. Litt said. "At a time when 'Women’s Studies' was poorly understood and unaccepted as a legitimate academic pursuit, she (and Marilyn Yalom) created CROW to give support and credibility to its scholars." 

Nan Keohane, the former president of both Wellesley College and Duke University, lauded Strober's vision: "Myra is a visionary activist and a creative institution builder; she knows how to work within the system, yet also transforms the status quo in powerful ways.  As a result," she continued, "the Clayman Institute has been, from the beginning, a valued part of this university rather than a secessionist movement." Stanford Law School Professor Emerita and previous "Honoring Our Founders" honoree Barbara Babcock reflected on the personal components of Strober's dedication to the foundation of the Institute:  "Two things need stressing about our founding: one, that it was not an easy matter for Myra....  It was a sacrifice to spend the time.  And, two, Myra's students from the business school had a big part in urging her to do the founding and supporting her in doing it." 

Molly Anderson, AC member; Caroline Simard, managing director, Stanford VMware Women's Leadership Innovation Lab; Ina Coleman, AC member

Robert Nimmo, AC member; ED Lori Nishiura Mackenzie; honoree Myra Strober; Cynthia Russell, AC member and co-founder; Susan Colby, former AC member; and Mayree Clark, AC member