Sociologist Jessie Bernard anticipated feminist theory by discussing the differences between men’s and women’s experiences and arguing that quantitative studies did not accurately represent women’s stories. Bernard earned her MA from the University of Minnesota in 1924 with her thesis, Changes of Attitudes of Jews in the First and Second Generation, and a PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in 1935 before joining the faculty of Penn State in 1947, where she taught until her retirement in 1964. She wrote extensively on Jewish identity, family, sexuality, and gender, becoming best known for Academic Women in 1964, The Future of Marriage in 1972, and The Female World in 1981. In her writing, she argued that marriage was good for men but bad for women, and that men and women inhabit very different worlds. She also critiqued the male bias she felt was inherent in a quantitative approach to sociology. Bernard briefly served as president of the Eastern Sociological Society in 1953 and the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 1963 and as vice president of the American Sociological Association from 1953–1954. She was honored with the Association for Women in Psychology’s first Distinguished Career Award in 1978.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Jessie Bernard." (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/bernard-jessie>.