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Jeanne Dost : Women’s Warrior at Oregon State University Public Deposited

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  • In the 1960s and 1970s, women in the workplace were often passed over for promotion, not given jobs, or assigned part-time work, because employers, often men, believed that a woman’s role at home was more dominating than her potential as an employee. It was often assumed that working women were “housewives” supplying supplemental income, whereas men were the “breadwinners” and therefore were more deserving of employment. In 1968, Dr. Jeanne Dost was blatantly sexually discriminated against at Oregon State University. She applied for a tenure-track associate professor position at the Department of Economics in the realm of her academic specialty, Urban and Regional Economics. Rather than fully consider Jeanne Dost for the position, the school revoked the position entirely and instead hired a male instructor with a master’s degree, who specialized in a subject already covered by multiple instructors in the department. Eventually, after being fired and enduring multiple legal battles, Jeanne Dost received her rightful position and much more, but she had to fight for it. Throughout Jeanne Dost’s career at Oregon State, she witnessed countless injustices towards her gender and served as the first Director of the Women’s Center and Women’s Studies. As head of a department that was constantly underfunded despite interest, she experienced the university’s failures with affirmative action and a startling sexual harassment rate, which hindered the ability for female scholars to get jobs in academia and to even receive their education. Actions or lack of action by Oregon State University during the late 1960s and 1970s hindered scholarship and opportunity for women. This is exemplified and amplified through the experiences of Jeanne Dost. Her case serves as an example of a time where “friendships” often trumped merit in hiring situations, and women were still defined by their domestic roles.
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