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
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
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.