Sadker Equity Awards



Judith Mann, 1999 Myra Sadker Equity Award Winner


Introduction to award presentation by David Sadker

The second annual Myra Sadker Equity award is given to Judy Mann, writer and a prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post.

Judy Mann has been writing about families, politics and gender issues for two decades. Those of you who have read her columns know of her thoughtful insights and penetrating wit. Many politicians have been stung by her wit, or as we educators say — motivated to do the right thing. Those of you fortunate enough to have read Judy's book, The Difference: Growing up Female in America, know what a wonderful and informative author she is.

Judy grew up in Washington D.C., attended Washington and Lee High School in Arlington Virginia, and then went on to Barnard College in New York. She has spoken widely, been interviewed on both radio and television, and has been awarded several honorary degrees. She has also been honored by the Population Institute with its global media award, making her one of only 16 journalists around world to be recognized for coverage of population development issues.

Judy not only writes about global struggles, national and worldwide issues like population control, but has also been courageous enough to allow us all to share some very intimate struggles, her personal fight against breast cancer. She has spoken about how women can protect themselves from the disease, offered strategies to manage breast cancer, and worked to increase research funding to eliminate not only the national breast cancer epidemic, but all cancers as well. In generously sharing her own battles and fears, she has moved us emotionally and intellectually. In so many ways, Judy Mann has become our voice.

It was almost two decades ago that Myra and I first heard about Judy Mann, as we enjoyed reading her columns in the Washington Post. Then one day we found that she had written an article about our research. In our studies, we found that boys were getting more classroom attention, and more precise teacher feedback. If teachers did not volunteer this extra attention, boys shouted out and demanded it. While girls received the better grades and more complements about their behavior, boys were receiving a more productive education.

Judy thought that that might be a problem. She always had an uncanny sense for the right story.

For the past few decades, Judy has earned her stripes in the gender wars, the cultural battle now raging across the nation. Judy, Myra and I became veterans in the fight against the ultra conservative backlash threatening the progress made by women and others. Today, the struggle for equal rights has become unfashionable in some quarters. A host of conservative commentators, many of them well financed by even more conservative foundations and corporations, have targeted researchers, writers, and politicians who support gender equity. They have not affected Judy, who reminds me of a statement made by Winston Churchill: Kites fly highest against the wind. Judy is soaring.

In this week's column in the Washington Post, Judy wrote:

Valuing women's work for what it is truly worth, compared with men's work, has been the toughest nut to crack in the modern women's movement. Young women go into the labor force with the rosy view that this battle has been won. Far from it: The AFL-CIO study done with the Institute for Women's Policy Research forecasts that the typical 29-year-old woman with a college degree will lose about $990,000 in wages during her lifetime.

And then, in typical Judy style, pulling her punches, she writes:

Timing on equal pay efforts, especially in Congress, couldn't be better. The right wing has been routed, the Republicans are terrified of the women's vote, and the economy is certainly robust enough that businesses don't have to balance their books on the backs of working women.

We need to teach Judy to stop beating around the bush and tell us what she really thinks.

Strong and sound voices like Judy Mann's need to be recognized and rewarded. That is why we are here today.

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