In 1970, the economics department at the University of California, Berkeley, hired three newly-minted economics PhDs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Two — both men — were hired as assistant professors. But a woman, Myra Strober, was hired as a lecturer, a position of inferior pay and status and no possibility of tenure. When she asked the department chairman why she was denied an assistant professorship, he put her off with excuses. She kept pressing him until he gave a frank answer: She had two young children; the department couldn’t possibly put her on the tenure track.
So Strober took another offer. In 1972 she became the first woman economist at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. “They didn’t know what to make of me,” she said. The faculty retreat, which had been held every year at a men’s club, had to be moved. There were jokes about putting a bag over her head so they could keep going to the club. “It was like trying to run a race with one of your legs tied behind you,” Strober said of the culture. When she came up for tenure six years later, she was denied. “They told me I hadn’t hit a home run and that my work wasn’t seminal,” she explained. “Two male metaphors in one sentence.”