In Memoriam: Sheila Tobias, 1935-2021

Sheila Tobias, a college administrator and feminist scholar, died earlier this month in Tucson, Arizona. She was 86 years old.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tobias was a magna cum laude graduate of Radcliffe College, where she majored in history and literature. She held master’s degrees in history and European history from Columbia University. Tobias earned eight honorary doctorates from colleges and universities.

Tobias began her academic career in 1965 as a lecturer in history at the City College of New York. Two years later, she was appointed assistant to the vice president for academic affairs at Cornell University. In 1970 Tobias was named associate provost at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. There, her primary administrative focus was on helping this formerly all-male institution make the transition to coeducation.

Tobias’ writings and research focused on women’s anxiety toward pursuing math and science fields. She was the author of Overcoming Math Anxiety (W.W. Norton, 1978), which was later reprinted and revised. In the book, she maintained that for women mathematics avoidance is not a failure of intellect, but a failure of nerve. She went on to publish 11 other books on academic anxiety among women and women in the military.

Tobias moved to Arizona in the early 1980s and had a successful career as an educational consultant. She also lectured at the University of Arizona, the University of California, Davis, the University of California, San Diego, and the Claremont Graduate School.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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