PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University is hosting two days of events re-examining Louise Lamphere v. Brown University, the landmark class-action case that in 1975 charged Brown with sex discrimination and set in motion a chain of events that changed the University.
The events, part of Brown’s 250th anniversary celebration, will take place March 5 and 6, 2015, and include an exhibition, a public roundtable hosted by President Christina Paxson with women who have been presidents of major universities, and an academic symposium exploring feminist change and the university.
The events and exhibition were organized with support from the Pembroke Center Associates, the Office of the President, Brown University’s 250th Anniversary, Creative Arts Council, Brown University Library, and John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.
March 5, 2015
3:30 p.m. — Exhibition opening reception
The Lamphere Case: The Sex Discrimination Lawsuit that Changed Brown
Pembroke Hall, 172 Meeting St.
The exhibition will remain on display through May 24, 2015. Hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
5:30 p.m. — A presidential roundtable
Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Women Presidents and the Changing University
Salomon Center for Teaching, De Ciccio Family Auditorium, College Green
Free and open to the public and carried live online
A roundtable discussion hosted by Brown President Christina Paxson brings together three women who have been presidents of major universities. They will discuss the social changes that have allowed women to become leaders of major universities and the challenges women still face in these key leadership roles. Participants include:
• Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University
• Shirley Tilghman, former President of Princeton University
• Nan Keohane, former President of Wellesley College and Duke University
March 6, 2015
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. — A symposium on feminist scholarship
Feminist Change and the University
Pembroke Hall, 172 Meeting St.
Pre-registration is requested.
Linking past and present feminist concerns, the symposium will open with a conversation between Louise Lamphere and Amy Goldstein, a 1979 graduate and staff writer for the Washington Post, about the case and its aftermath. A panel of female Brown faculty will focus on the way feminist scholarship continues to change what students study, how knowledge is made in the contemporary university, and the challenges and possibilities facing current and future generations of women at Brown. The day will conclude with keynote lectures by Wendy Brown of the University of California–Berkeley and Evelynn Hammonds of Harvard University.
Additional information and registration forms are available online.
About Louise Lamphere v. Brown University
An assistant professor of anthropology and the only woman in her department when she was hired in 1968, Louise Lamphere was denied tenure in 1974. The Department of Anthropology claimed that her scholarship was theoretically weak. Lamphere claimed she was the victim of sex discrimination and argued that the small number of women on the Brown faculty was evidence of a larger pattern of discrimination. After unsuccessfully pursuing an internal appeals process, Lamphere brought suit in U.S. District Court on May 10, 1975.
Under the leadership of its new president, Howard Swearer, the University settled the case before trial, entering into an historic consent decree in September 1977 designed “to achieve on behalf of women full representativeness with respect to faculty employment at Brown.” Brown agreed to set up an Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee charged with overseeing the processes departments used to hire, make tenure recommendations, and promote faculty to be sure they were fair; evaluating searches to make sure they were inclusive; and monitoring progress toward full representation of women on the faculty. The Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee was in existence from 1978 to 1992, when by mutual consent the consent decree was vacated. By the time the decree was vacated, Brown had increased its number of tenured women faculty five-fold.