Lunching at the Berkeley Women’s Faculty Club

wfcWhenever I visit my friend Madeline Mixer in Berkeley, we usually lunch at the UC Women’s Faculty Club on the campus. Madeline has been a member for decades, although she was never an actual member of the UC faculty. She was invited to join when she worked there as a statistician in the 1950s. No one can argue that Madeline is not a Bears fan. She was active in student government and served as vice president of the student body when she was a student there in the 1940s. Later Madeline worked as the regional chief of the US Dept. of Labor Women’s Bureau where she supported and defended tradeswomen. That’s where we met in the 1970s.

I love our lunches at the Women’s Faculty Club partly because of the great food. You don’t have to order the “salad bar” but I always do because it’s so tempting. I’m the kind of eater who wants to taste every dish, and the bar has so many choices, mostly vegetarian, with free range and locally sustainable everything. My compliments to the chef.

Madeline Mixer
Madeline Mixer

I’ve copied the short history of the club from its web page. The page also includes bios of some of Berkeley’s female faculty leaders. My heroine is Pauline Sperry, the first female professor of mathematics, who stood up to the state and refused to sign the anti-Communist loyalty oath in 1950. For that she was fired.

Women's Faculty Club menu
Women’s Faculty Club menu

The Women’s Faculty Club is the only women’s faculty club in the nation with its own building. It was conceived and formed through the initiative of Dean Lucy Ward Stebbins, the second Dean of Women on the Berkeley campus. In the fall of 1919 Dean Stebbins circulated an invitation to all women faculty to attend a small organizing meeting to discuss forming a group where “we might know all our colleagues better and have more opportunities to discuss our common interests.” This meeting was held at the Cloyne Court apartment of Dr. Jessica Peixotto, first female full professor at Berkeley.

At the time women were not allowed into the Men’s Faculty Club and the women members of the faculty felt the need “for a place of their own, as a refuge from the bustle and confusion on the campus.” After the first meeting the group held an organizing dinner and invited seventy-six women who were either faculty, worked in the University Library or held positions of administrative responsibility. No minutes were taken of this first dinner meeting but the seeds for the club had been planted. By December of 1919 a constitution and by-laws had been adopted and a seven-member Board of Directors elected. Dean Stebbins was elected the first President and the women began work on a financial plan to build a permanent club house.

Photos of groundbreaking female faculty hang on the walls
Photos of groundbreaking female faculty hang on the walls

The women met for meetings and tea in a variety of locations and began to meet with both the representative for the Regents and the campus architect John Galen Howard. Howard was selected as the architect for the building and presented a number of plans. The Finance Committee and the Executive Building Committee were jointly responsible to raise the money and sell stock.

The building was completed in 1923 and after years of hard work the women now had a permanent home.

Author: Molly Martin

I'm a long-time tradeswoman activist, retired electrician and electrical inspector. I live in Santa Rosa, CA. I also share a travel blog with my wife Holly:

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