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Complaint highlights faculty discrimination at UW -- State Journal editorial from 50 years ago

Complaint highlights faculty discrimination at UW -- State Journal editorial from 50 years ago

Helen C. White

Helen C. White became the first woman to hold a full-time professorship in the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin in 1936. She died in 1967 after 48 years of teaching at the university.

This State Journal editorial ran on July 29, 1970:

It has brought into the open a long-festering source of frustration and resentment among some of Madison’s most outstanding women.

No state or official university policy limits the opportunities for women in the faculty. But the opportunity is sharply restricted all the same.

Key decisions are made mostly at the department level, and it is hardly a coincidence that the records show department after department where no woman has ever attained the chairmanship, or even a full professorship, or even coveted tenured rank at all.

The university justifiably boasts of the numbers of women on whom it has conferred doctorates. It’s willing to enroll them, all right. It just doesn’t want to hire them — or to give them significant opportunity if it does.

Dozens of retired women in Madison gave their entire professional lives to the university and — with credentials as fine as their male colleagues’ — were retired at least without ever attaining full professorships or even real responsibility. ...

Hopefully complaints like that of the Women’s Equity Action League this month will force the university administration, its Regents and its individual departments to confront the issue.

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