Mirra Komarovsky

Mirra Komarovsky (1906-1999) taught sociology at Barnard from 1933 to 1973 as a member of the faculty, and then for another 18 years as professor emerita. Born in Russia, she came with her family to the United States in 1922 at age 16, and shortly thereafter enrolled at Barnard as a member of the Class of 1923. After marrying, and despite contrary gender-based advice, she embarked on an academic career, teaching at Barnard and earning her doctorate from Columbia with a dissertation that became The Unemployed Man and His Family (1940). In 1953, she published Women in the Modern World: Their Education and Their Dilemmas, which helped spark the contemporary analysis of gender roles in society, anticipating Betty Freidan's The Feminine Mystique by more than a decade.  In 1973, she became the second female president of the American Sociological Association (founded in 1905), which in 1991 awarded her its Distinguished Career Award. Komarovsky’s research during the 1980s tracked the many changes taking place in young women’s consciousness and life choices in response to the feminist movement. She served as a role model for many younger women academics, including Barnard’s Flora Davidson and Rosalind Rosenberg.