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Celebrating Women Role Models

By Julia Sommer and Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
Posted March 10, 1999

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.

Alice Agogino
Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering

Photo: Alice Agogino

Alice Agogino

My mother was my first female role model. She was a physics professor, so I never questioned going into physics or math.

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.

Carmen McKines
Title IX Compliance Officer

Photo: Carmen McKines

Carmen McKines

I've had many campus role models. Some who stand out in my mind are Michelle Woods-Jones (former ombudsperson), Louise Taylor (retired director of planning and analysis) and Anita Madrid.

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.

Carol Christ
Executive Vice Chancellor

Photo: Carol Christ

Carol Christ

When I was in my first administrative position as faculty assistant for the status of women in 1983-84, my role model was Doris Calloway, provost for the professional schools and colleges. She showed me how to work effectively as an administrator in what was then a man's world. From her I learned it was possible to be true to myself and be effective and respected.

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.

Marian Diamond
Professor of Integrative Biology

Photo: Marian Diamond

Marian Diamond

I've had both positive and negative role models. One Berkeley woman professor, Miriam Simpson, told me when I went to her office at the age of 21, in the 1940s, that science would be tough for me and that is the way it should be -- a negative response which later turned into a positive reaction. I was determined to make science as pleasant as I could for anyone who wanted to work hard.

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.

Norma Alarcón
Chair of Women's Studies
Professor of Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies and Spanish

Photo: Norma Alarcón

Norma Alarcón

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 beginning.



March 10 - 16, 1999 (Volume 27, Number 26)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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