Jane Prather (1964)

Professor of Sociology, CSU Northridge

I've hesitated to write this because I have conflicting feelings about my years at Berkeley. On the one hand, they were very exciting and yet ,very traumatic times. While some professors were outstanding as lecturers (Blumer, Goffman, Smelser) others (unnamed) were arrogant, if not abusive towards students. The challenges of the  various social movements meant we were sociology students in action not just students in the classroom. 

I was originally not admitted to UCB and I went to see Blumer who was chair to see what I could do. He called every member of the graduate committee in front of me and asked "WHY?" Finally, he slammed the phone down and said, "That's no reason!" He said that some members didn't want to admit me because I was married! (This was 1964). Blumer not only admitted me but arranged for a reduced out-of-state tuition fee for my excellent academic record as an undergraduate and  M.A. from Kansas. Isn't that a great story about the giant! 

Sociology like other academic disciplines maintained a very traditional outlook which meant studying society from a masculine perspective. I never had a female professor of Sociology! There were no tenured women faculty at UCB.  In 1968  I audited the first sociology undergraduate course dealing with women's issues taught by an adjunct faculty Pauline Bart. Nevertheless, I now recognize that my challenging experiences as a graduate student and as a mother of a young child,during those Berkeley years led to my career focusing on women's issues. 

I am a professor (and former department chair) at California State University, Northridge, where I  designed the courses in Sociology of Gender, Gender and Work and team taught the first women studies course "Sex Role Stereotypes" in 1971. My research and by political life have focused on women's issues, especially dedicated to assisting women in the professions. Hopefully, I have helped succeeding generations of  women sociologists. 

Dissertation Title: 
Customers vs. Tellers: An Analysis of the Setting, Players, and Issues of Banking Transactions