In Memoriam: Mary Ann Mason, 1943-2020

Mary Ann Mason, the first woman to serve as dean of the Graduate Division at the University of California, Berkeley, died late last month at her home in San Francisco. She was 76 years old and had suffered from pancreatic cancer.

“At a time when women in academia were struggling to balance career and family, Mary Ann Mason broke down barriers to gender equality and made it easier for women to excel in all areas of their lives,” said Carol Christ, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. “She approached her mission with empathy, thoughtfulness and solid, well-researched data. Her legacy is extraordinary, and she will be sorely missed by all of us who were her colleagues and friends, as well as the generations of women and men she mentored.”

Beginning in 1989, Dr. Mason served as a professor of social welfare for two decades. In 2000, she was named dean of the campus’s Graduate Division, which serves some 10,000 students. As dean, she spearheaded the expansion of family-friendly policies for faculty and graduate students, advocating for paid parental leave, paid maternity leave, teaching relief for new parents, dual-career hiring policies, and more child care facilities. She was the author or co-author of many books including The Equality Trap (Routledge, 2001), Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers (Oxford University Press, 2007), and Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower (Rutgers University Press, 2013).

A native of Hibbing, Minnesota, Dr. Mason was a graduate of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she majored in history. She held a Ph.D. in American history from the Univerity of Rochester in New York and a juris doctorate from the University of San Francisco.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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  1. Karen Offen says:

    So sorry to hear of Mary Ann’s death last August — I had not known until today (May 2021). She was a radiant personality in addition to a fine intellect and produced some very important books and articles on the “woman question”. Alas, she has left us but her work will live on.

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