Myra Strober PhD ’69, a renowned expert on women in the workforce, has some advice for her fellow alumni.
“Men shouldn’t allow their wives to make decisions about leaving the labor force by themselves,” she says. “Those decisions really are family decisions. Men have a role to play in encouraging their wives to stay in the workforce, and help them to do that by sharing the work at home. And figuring out together how to make it possible to have two careers, so [women] are not in the position of allowing the human capital that they’ve appreciated over the years to languish.”
And Strober’s advice for alumnae? “Do it. Figure out how to do it. It can be done.”
Strober shares this advice, along with recollections from her new book, Sharing the Work: What My Family and Career Taught Me about Breaking Through (and Holding the Door Open for Others), in an audio interview with Slice of MIT.
The book, published this spring from MIT Press, is a memoir of Strober’s career in academia, the bulk of which she spent at Stanford University, where she founded the Center for Research on Women in 1974. Strober attended MIT as one of only a few female economists in a decade when the Institute was only 7 percent women, and joined Stanford’s ranks when it was merely 2 percent female.
Before Stanford, Strober taught one of the first courses in the world on women and the workplace at the University of California Berkeley. Despite being told by colleagues that she could hardly justify an entire course on the topic, Strober persisted and entered class on the first day to resounding applause.
“Before I said a word, before I even sat down, the class applauded. I had been at MIT with Paul Samuelson and Bob Solow, who were star professors, and nobody ever applauded them before they said a word. But these students were so excited to be in a class on women at work. I felt like Joseph in Egypt, meting out grain to starving people.”
Listen to the complete podcast above then listen to the entire Slice of MIT Podcast archive at the MIT Alumni Association’s Soundcloud page.