Berkeley Women at Century's End

Successes Are Mixed on the 25th Anniversary of Title IX

by D. Lyn Hunter

Women on campus have made great progress but still have a long way to go, according to a panel discussion, "Women@Century's End: The Status of Women at Berkeley," which brought together long-time faculty and staff.

In 1969, only 3 percent of Berkeley's faculty were women. By 1996, that percentage jumped to 22 percent. As this statistic shows, women have made great strides in the last 28 years. But the figures also serve as a sobering reminder of how far women lag behind men in the faculty ranks at Berkeley.

The Oct. 22 event was timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of both the federal Title IX law, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, and the creation of cam-pus's Women's Resource Center.

Carmen McKines, Title IX compliance officer who is now in her 29th year at Berkeley, said she has seen remarkable changes take place during her tenure.

"When I got here in 1968, it was at the height of the Free Speech Movement, anti-war protests and People's Park demonstrations. I had no idea what I was getting into," said McKines, one of four panelists.

She recalled once running through a haze of tear gas during a rowdy protest on Sproul Plaza in an attempt to get home to her family.

"It wasn't until some time went by that I understood what they were fighting for, and now I realize their struggle helped lay the foundation for the Title IX legislation in 1972," she said.

McKines said a full-time Title IX compliance officer was established in 1989 to ensure equitable treatment of women on campus, but that state Proposition 209 and the UC Regents' ban on affirmative action will adversely affect the climate and culture for women at Berkeley.

Barbara Christian, a professor of African American studies who began her campus career 27 years ago, was the first black woman tenured at Berkeley.

"Not only was I a woman and black, but I was also pregnant when I first arrived. When I asked the chair for the spring quarter off to have my baby, he said, 'no,' so I brought the baby to class with me," Christian recalled.

In 1972, a group of students asked Christian to put together a course on black women writers. She realized she knew very little about the subject, and that no course on black women writers had been taught. She later put together a curriculum on the subject, which served as a catalyst for her academic career.

"These kinds of classes are being taught everywhere now, yet the number of women of color teaching is still very low," said Christian. Only 60 minority women throughout the country are full professors, she added.

Christian said she does not feel the organized presence of women on campus, and she senses some splintering has occurred among women's groups. Now more than ever, women should band together to fight the effects of Proposition 209, she said.

"We must re-energize our passion and create relationships with women on and off campus," said Christian.

Anita Madrid, coordinator for the Berkeley Pledge, warned that women must hone their job skills to stay competitive. "And if you are technology deprived, you are career deprived," she said.

"The metaphor for job growth is more like a kayak than a ladder these days as the job market has become more unstable," cautioned Madrid.

Affirmative action, she said, has become a taboo. But her commitment to recruit and retain women on campus is unwavering.

"The tools have changed but our obligation remains," said Madrid, whose Berkeley Pledge program seeks to help prepare at-risk children in the Bay Area for admission to college.

Yvette Gullatt, a Berkeley graduate student and staff member, said she has benefited from the hard work of the other panel members. As coordinator of the campus's Early Academic Outreach program, Gullatt thinks her female students are buying into the belief that they are inferior.

"These girls say they aren't able to do math or science because it is too hard for them, without ever really applying themselves to the subject. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Gullatt.

The Women's Resource Center, 250 Cesar Chavez Center, provides support, advocacy, information and training for women faculty, staff, students and alumnae.



Copyright 1997, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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