Myra Strober remembers the moment when she became a feminist: She was driving home on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after she was denied a teaching position at the University of California, Berkeley in 1970.
In her keynote speech at the Women’s Leadership Forum in Argyros Forum Feb. 18, Strober, professor emerita of economics at Stanford University, addressed how this moment shaped her passion for feminist economics and how it made her rediscover the meaning of leadership.
“I’ve worked too hard for second-class citizenship,” she said at the beginning of her speech, going on to explain her past frustrations as a woman and trying to become a tenured professor.
About 160 people attended the event, which was hosted by the College of Educational Studies, and included a panel featuring five women in different career fields, from education to law to documentary filmmaking, and breakout discussions also led by the panelists.
When asked what inspired her work, Strober reflected on the sense of courage and strength she hopes to see instilled in women.
“I want women to not be afraid to be leaders, to understand that they can be leaders and also have families, so that’s my motivation,” Strober told The Panther.
Strober discussed how she founded Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research in 1974, an organization dedicated to researching and proposing solutions to gender inequality.
Strober also talked about the importance of flexibility as a leader.
“I really liked how she said that it’s important to know when to persevere and when to change your course,” said sophomore strategic and corporate communication major Dory Ann Carter. “Knowing when something isn’t working or when you need to change course or ask for help and the idea of flexibility is something I’m still working on.”
After Strober’s speech, the five-woman panel discussed how their experiences shaped their careers.
Sumun Pendakur, the associate dean for institutional diversity at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, gave the closing keynote speech. She focused her discussion on how women can “sustain the flame,” even in times of darkness, by encouraging fellow women to be agents of change.
“Collective action matters. Our bodies in the streets matter,” Pendakur said, referring to the thousands of people who attended the Los Angeles Women’s March Jan. 21. “The time is now, change is now, and we can be part of that change.”