(NEWARK, NJ, Oct. 2 ) – Two women who challenged the establishment -- and won -- in the 1970s, will be recognized posthumously at Rutgers University, Newark, on Oct. 12 for paving the way for equal treatment of female professors. They will be remembered by colleagues who were working with them when they filed a ground-breaking discrimination complaint, and honored by younger generations of female professors who are the beneficiaries of their courageous actions.
WHO: In 1971 Professors Dorothy Dinnerstein and Helen Strausser spearheaded a federal complaint against Rutgers University’s Newark College of Arts and Sciences (NCAS), charging discrimination against female faculty in several aspects, including the number of female faculty hired, salaries, promotion opportunities, and numbers of tenured female professors. The federal government ultimately ruled in their favor.
WHAT: A ceremony and program honoring the late Drs. Dinnerstein and Strausser, including unveiling of a plaque to be placed on campus, and a presentation by Katherine Mahaney, a researcher who is documenting the history of gender equity at Rutgers-Newark, including the complaint and its long-term impacts.
WHEN/ WHERE: Oct. 12, 11:30 a.m., Hill Hall, Room 315, 360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark
BACKGROUND: Faculty women in NCAS at Rutgers-Newark, frustrated by the Rutgers administration’s lack of response to their complaints about inequalities on the job, filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare on May 3, 1971. The complaint charged that the university was in violation of equal opportunity regulations it was obliged to follow as a federal contractor. All eight of the female tenured faculty in the NCAS, led by Dinnerstein and Strausser, signed the complaint, on behalf of all female faculty. The complaint used detailed NCAS employment statistics to document unfair treatment in terms of hiring, salary, promotions, pay increases, awarding of stipends, granting of tenure and other areas.
In 1974, HEW ruled in favor of the faculty women, and ordered Rutgers to adjust pay scales for women to be equitable with male professors and to make retroactive payments to the female faculty to offset the previous inequities.
Until now, the university has not acknowledged the professors’ contributions to ensuring gender equality on campus. Both the recognition ceremony and the research on the history are supported by a program called RU-FAIR (Rutgers University for Faculty Advancement and Institutional Re-Imagination).
Media Contact: Carla Capizzi