A Pioneer in Women’s Studies: Lois Banner

Ms MagazineThe young college students who have sat in Professor Lois Banner‘s women’s studies classes are lucky to be living at a time when the field isn’t as stifled and doubted as it was when she began teaching women’s studies in the late 1960s. The Women’s Movement was still in its nascent stages then, having freshly emerged from the Civil Rights Movement.

“There was this new generation of women coming about who realized they were trapped in their homes and wanted more for their daughters,” she says. “A lot of voices began to be heard, and things began to snowball. Women’s studies came out of that.”

As one of the founders of the field, Banner concluded decades of feminist teaching with her retirement last month. Thirty of her years in academia were spent as a history and gender studies teacher at the University of Southern California (USC), where she helped popularize and expand the gender studies program, mentoring innumerable students in feminist history.

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