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Since its founding in 1974, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research has valued intergenerational mentorship.

2022 Susan Heck interns

The very origins of the Institute stem from students Cynthia Russell, Beth Garfield, and Susan Heck working alongside first Faculty Director Myra Strober to create a place on campus for this work. In fact, the intergenerational culture of the Institute took hold because there was a small and dedicated group of faculty and students invested in research on women—a cross section of community members interested in women’s issues gathered during this exciting period of transformation, learning from and with each other.

We have grown a great deal since then, yet we maintain this value to our core. Such intergenerational mentorship opportunities involve all members of the Institute: our undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, staff members, faculty fellows, and affiliated faculty. This is part of what makes the Institute unique, and is not only a reflection of our past, but also an investment in the future of gender scholarship and feminist community.

It is in this spirit that Leah Middlebrook established the Diane Wood Middlebrook fund, in memory of her mother Diane Wood Middlebrook and grandmother Helen Downey Wood. Diane Wood Middlebrook was a professor of English at Stanford and a former director of what is now known as the Clayman Institute. Leah recalls her mother was “an intuitive and excellent mentor,” and wished to memorialize her mother and grandmother, both of whom Leah describe as “invested in education and helping women thrive.” This fund, with the aim of promoting feminist mentorship, supports a variety of important mentoring relationships across the Institute.

This highlights the core of our approach to feminist mentoring—intergenerational, occurring inside and outside the classroom, and enriching the lives of both mentor and mentee. This theme runs through our research teams, our fellowships, our daily operations, and in our internship program.