Students & Friends Honor Ferber

" . . work harder and be a bit better to get to the same place as men."

When Professor Marianne Ferber, economics, retired after 38 years at the University of Illinois, friends and colleagues wanted to recognize her contributions to the college and profession. In a matter of a few months, they raised $12,000 to endow the Marianne A. Ferber Graduate Scholarship in Women's Studies (the first scholarship for women's studies at the Ul) and the Marianne A. Ferber prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Women's Studies. Both were awarded for the first time last spring.

A Czech native, Ferber came to the university in 1948 when her husband, Robert Ferber, was hired in the economics department. Although she earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1954, strict nepotism rules kept Ferber from regular employment on the faculty. Because of a severe teacher shortage, however, Economics hired her semester by semester. In 1971, she was promoted from lecturer to assistant professor. In 1979 she became a full professor.

Today Marianne Ferber is an important scholar in her field, "Women in the Labor Market." She was the director of Women's Studies at the Ul from 1979-83 and from 1991-93. The author of several books and articles, Ferber intends to remain active in retirement. She is the Manna S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor at Radcliffe from 1993-95.

When asked how she thinks women have done in the labor market, Ferber said, "Women have come a long way, and we still have a long way to go." Her advice to women? "What ever stage of the game you're at, work harder and try to be a bit better to get to the same place as men." With the world economy in trouble jobs will become scarcer. "It's in periods of high unemployment," she says, "when men will dig in their heels and come up with all the reasons why they should get the job rather than the women, who 'don't really need them.'"

But Professor Ferber keeps her sense of humor. When asked how to improve the status of housework, she replied, "Get men to do more of it."