Women Role Models
Women Role Models
By Julia Sommer
and Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
In honor of Women's History Month, Berkeleyan continues its interviews with campus women leaders about their women role models. Part 1 of this two-part feature appeared in the March 3 issue.
Janis Joplin and Mae West were equally powerful role models for me. They were strong women who knew what they wanted and went after it.
Cynthia Irwin, an archeologist and colleague of my father, was also a role model. She took the lead in running archeology expeditions in remote areas of the U.S. and Mexico.
When I came to Berkeley, Laura Tyson was my teaching
mentor. I've always valued her recommendations. Doris
Calloway, former provost of professional schools, and
Executive Vice Chancellor Carol Christ have been powerful
role models in administration in higher education.
Michelle had a style that drew people to her and made them feel they could trust her. She was articulate and a very beautiful black woman.
I've known Louise since I began working here 31 years ago. We both started as senior clerk typists. She had a way of stepping back from situations -- she was very analytical and objective.
I admire Anita because she is very strong-willed, determined and compassionate.
All of these women care very deeply about the Berkeley
campus. I do too.
Josephine Miles was also an enormous influence on me.
When I arrived in 1970 as only the fourth woman faculty
member in the English department, she was the only tenured
woman in the department. She was warm and inviting to junior
faculty and committed to women's issues.
Simpson told me when she was 60 that science alone was not worth it -- a negative statement that made me determined to have more in my life than science, even though I loved my science and the opportunity for discovery.
Professor Agnes Faye Morgan in nutrition, for whom Morgan
Hall was named, appeared to me to have a well balanced life
and was a positive influence. She told me when I was in my
early 20s that men would not understand me until they had
daughters my age.
Because of my isolation as a graduate student in Bloomington, Ind., and my bookish nature, a lot of my role models are poets and philosophers who are no longer alive -- like Mexican intellectual Rosario Castellanos, Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil. All were outstanding thinkers who never had a tenured job.
When you think of Hannah Arendt, who went from university to university as a teacher but never went the career route, it gives you hope that it is possible to develop an intellectual life without necessarily depending on institutionalized careers.
Those three women gave me inspiration when I needed it most.
After I came to California, I was inspired by women involved in political activism, like Emma Goldman, Dolores Huerta and [SanFrancisco activist] Elizabeth Martinez.
On campus, Carol Stack has been supportive and mentored me all the way from assistant professor to full professor.
Another role model was Margarita Melville, who was coordinator of Chicano studies and chair of ethnic studies, and is retired now. She did her work with indigenous communities in Guatemala and Mexican-American women in the labor force. Margarita combined activism and scholarship in very important ways.
These two campus women were there for me from the