Bernard, Jessie Shirley

Bernard, Jessie Shirley
▪ 1997

      U.S. sociologist (b. June 8, 1903, Minneapolis, Minn.—d. Oct. 6, 1996, Washington, D.C.), conducted meticulous research and wrote numerous books that provided insights into women, sex, marriage, and family-community interaction. She was called a founding mother of sociology, and her work was considered to have provided a scholarly foundation for modern feminism. Following her education at the University of Minnesota (B.A., 1923; M.A., 1924), Bernard accompanied her husband, sociologist Luther Lee Bernard, who had been one of her professors, to his various academic posts over the next several years. She received a Ph.D. from Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., in 1935, worked as a social science analyst for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in 1940, at Lindenwood College for Women, St. Charles, Mo., began her teaching career. From 1947 to 1964 she was professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University. Her early books included American Family Behavior (1942), American Community Behavior (1949), and Academic Women (1964). Following her retirement from Penn State, she moved to Washington, D.C., and served in such capacities as scholar in residence for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights—studying sex discrimination—and founding board member of the Center for Women in Policy Studies. Bernard had her first child when she was 39 and her last when she was 47; her husband died six months later. She thus was able to bring the perspective of both wife and single mother to her writings, and she came to realize that she had long been a feminist. Bernard's later works, such as The Sex Game (1968), Women and the Public Interest (1971), The Future of Marriage (1972), The Future of Motherhood (1974), and The Female World (1981), established the importance of her scholarship to the women's movement.

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Universalium. 2010.

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