Dr. Mariam Chamberlain, founder of the National Council for Research on Women, passed away last Tuesday at the age of 94. Dr. Chamberlain has a doctorate in Economics from Harvard University and was instrumental in the establishment of women’s studies as a field of study in college curricula.
Through her role directing the higher education program at the Ford Foundation, Dr. Chamberlain began to expose the need to teach women’s studies in college and universities. She awarded $5 million in grants to studies, projects and organizations that documented the lack of visibility for women in college classes and took pro-active steps to increasing the discussion of women’s role in history. She is responsible for funding The Feminist Press and the National Women’s Studies Association. As Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal remembers her, “She was the godmother of women’s studies.”
Her passion was not consigned solely to women’s studies. Dr. Chamberlain was also passionate and active in understanding the barriers women faced in the workplace and society at large. She funded the Center for Women’s Policy Studies, which was one of the first organizations of its kind. She also studied domestic violence, discrimination in loan practices, and inequalities in the work place.
In 1981, she founded and directed the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW). According the NCRW, “Under her leadership, NCRW has increased and promoted research on women, built alliances for synergistic work, and advanced research into policy applications. Her vision has evolved into a dynamic network of thought leaders and change agents working to ensure more fully informed debates, policies and practices, thereby contributing to a more inclusive and equitable world for women and girls, their families and their communities.”