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40 years of gender research: Celebrating the past, present and future of change

Nov 2 2014

In 1974, the Center for Research on Women (CROW) opened its doors on the Stanford campus. Over the next four decades, CROW, now the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, tackled ground-breaking topics in women's health, longevity, and interdisciplinary research. Today, the Clayman Institute is one of the premiere research centers focused on gender equality. 

On November 6th, the Clayman Institute, celebrates 40 years and raises a toast to our visionary and committed pioneers. While celebrating the past, we also look toward a bright future of groundbreaking research, innovative programs, and committed communities. These three Gender News pieces reflect on the wisdom of our founders as we look toward the future.

There is still a lot of work to be done

Founding Director, Myra Strober shares her reflections on the Institute's early days and her view on the work yet to be done. In 1974, the need for serious scholarship and advocacy on gender issues was painfully obvious. At the time, American women were earning only 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. There was little recourse against sexual bias and harassment in schools and workplaces, and few role models for university students who wanted to combine family life with careers outside the home.

Reflecting back, Strober says, "I think we've made a lot of progress."  Women now are earning 78 cents on the dollar compared to men, and they comprise more than half of college undergraduates, medical students and law students. Businesses are more open to the idea of parental leaves, part-time arrangements and child care subsidies for their employees. While at home, men are devoting more time to household tasks and parenting. “Women are getting more education, staying in the workforce, gaining work experience, and there’s less discrimination,” says Strober, a Stanford professor, emerita, of education and professor by courtesy in the Graduate School of Business. At the same time, she says, there’s still plenty of gender-oriented teaching and scholarship left to be done.

Student activism changed the face of academia 

Three students dared to question, “Where were the women’s voices on Stanford’s campus and in academia as a whole?” Finding the answer to that question changed their lives, as well as the face of the Stanford campus. These students banded together to create an institute that they hoped would change the world. 

Today, the Institute thanks Beth Garfield, Susan Heck (in memoriam) and Cynthia Russell for their audacious courage and steadfast dedication

A pioneering campus leader

In 1976, the New York Times ran an article about women’s liberation and its invigorating effect on college presidents’ wives. Case in point: Jing Lyman (in memoriam), the dynamic “first lady” of Stanford University from 1970 to 1980. Apart from her reputation as a skilled and gracious campus hostess, “Mrs. Lyman is admired for the way she has carved out a position for herself,” the Times noted. “She travels with her husband, is active in fund raising, gives speeches to alumni groups, and speaks out on issues such as fair housing, volunteerism and equality of opportunity for women.”

In 2010, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research launched an annual lecture series in her honor.The idea harks back to the 1980s and ’90s, when the university’s former Center for Research on Women hosted a popular monthly lecture series bearing her name. “I wanted to find a way to recognize both current contributions to gender equality and past contributions of members of the Stanford community,” says Shelley Correll, professor of sociology, who is taking over as director of the Clayman Institute this fall. “Jing was one of the early leaders on gender issues on campus. Naming the new lecture series after her thus serves to recognize her contributions.” 

A gender lens
exposes gaps in knowledge,
identifies root causes of barriers,
and proposes workable solutions.