Berkeley 150W: Celebrating women's leadership at Berkeley Social Welfare

March 2, 2020

Berkeley 150W logoIn honor of Women’s History Month, Social Welfare Month, and the 150th anniversary of women being admitted to UC Berkeley, we are celebrating some of our “founding mothers” and leaders in the history of the School. Women had prominent roles teaching social welfare at UC Berkeley from the earliest days of the program, and Berkeley Social Welfare has consistently ranked above campus averages in appointments of tenure-track women faculty.

Dr. Lucy Ward Stebbins

Dr. Lucy Ward Stebbins began her career at Berkeley as Assistant Dean of Women in 1910. Promoted to Dean of Women in 1912, she remained in that role until 1941. She became assistant professor of Social Economics in 1912, was granted tenure in 1918, and attained the rank of full professor in 1923.

Dr. Emily Noble Plehn

Emily Noble Plehn served as associate professor of Social Economics from 1921 until 1932. The first practice work supervisor in the social service curriculum, she became Field director in 1926.

Dr. Martha Chickering

Martha Chickering served as associate professor of Social Economics from 1930 through 1939, and the directed the graduate curriculum in social service immediately before the creation of the School of Social Welfare. Dr. Chickering was Director of the California State Department of Social Welfare from 1939 to 1943.

Dr. Mary Ann Mason

Professor emerita Mary Ann Mason served as the first woman dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate Division from 2000 to 2007, with responsibility for nearly 10,000 students in more than 100 graduate programs. During her tenure, she championed diversity in the graduate student population, promoted equity for student parents and pioneered measures to enhance the career-life balance for all faculty and graduate students.

Dr. Lorraine Midanik

Lorraine Midanik joined the faculty of Berkeley Social Welfare in 1985 and became the first woman dean in 2007. Currently a professor emerita, she is an expert on the biomedicalization of social problems, research methodology, health policy, alcohol and drug policy and the epidemiology of alcohol and drug use.

Dr. Linda M. Burton

A renowned ethnographer who specializes in "big science" longitudinal studies of family dynamics that exist among America's poorest urban, small-town, and rural multi-generation families, Linda Burton became the first Black Dean of Berkeley Social Welfare in September 2019.