On Nov. 6, Stanford’s Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research will be hosting an event to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The Institute will highlight its past achievements and leaders as well as discuss the Institute’s vision for the future. The event will conclude with a discussion of what change in gender equality will look like over the next 40 years.
The Clayman Institute’s history goes back to 1972, when professor of education Myra Strober arrived on campus as the Graduate School of Business’ first female faculty member, looked at Stanford’s faculty and asked: “Why are there so few women here?” Prior to coming to Stanford, Strober, a labor economist who received her Ph.D. from MIT, was hired as a lecturer in the economics department at UC-Berkeley.
When she asked her department chair why two of her male classmates at MIT had been hired as assistant professors while she was hired as a lecturer, Strober was told it was because she lived in Palo Alto.
“I left his office and drove home…and became a feminist on the Bay Bridge,” Strober said.
With the support of then-University President Richard Lyman, provost at the time William Miller, who is now a professor emeritus of political economy, their wives and grants from the Ford Foundation, Strober founded the Center for Research on Women (CROW) in 1974. The Institute focused on research around the shortage of women in leading positions at universities and corporations and sought to provide a space to discuss women’s issues on campus.
Initially the Institute hosted various lectures and conferences revolving around women’s issues. With the late Dianne Middlebrook as director, CROW helped develop courses relevant to women’s issues and ultimately helped establish Stanford’s Feminist Studies program in 1981, according to documents provided by the Clayman Institute.
After changing its name to the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the institute, based at Serra House, organized the Faculty Women’s Caucus to address issues involving Stanford’s female faculty members. According to the Institute’s Director of Marketing, Erika Fogarty, the group helped establish Stanford’s parental-leave policy, which didn’t exist at the time, and convinced Stanford to release salary information based on gender.
In 2004 the Institute was given the name it has today – the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research – and has launched a number of initiatives in recent years under the directorship of sociology professor Shelley Correll M.A. ’96 Ph.D. ’01. In May 2014, the Institute launched the Center for The Advancement of Women’s Leadership alongside a Corporate Partner Program to apply and conduct evidence-based research in corporate settings.
“The program is actually a very exciting opportunity to bridge that gap between academic knowledge and actual workplace practices,” Correll said.
According to Correll, the opportunity to harness academic scholarship on women’s leadership to improve workplace practices will be a vital component of the gender equality discussion in the next decade.
For Strober, who is currently a member of the Institute’s advisory board, the next decade will require further focus on the problems and solutions that we know already exist.
“The answer is not sexy,” Strober said. “We need more child care—more affordable child care. We need women to lean in; we need companies to meet them halfway; we need discussion and change with regard to subtle gender bias.”
Contact Sam Premutico at samprem ‘at’ stanford.edu.