Harriet B. Presser
Distinguished University Professor
University of California, Berkeley, 1969
Departmental Specialty Areas:
Demography; Gender, Work and Family
Harriet B. Presser
was a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Sociology.
She was the founding Director of the Center on Population, Gender, and Social Inequality
Maryland Population Research Center),
serving from 1988 to 2001.
Professor Presser was a Past President of the
Population Association of America (1989), and was named George Washington University’s
1992 Distinguished Alumni Scholar, having received
her B.A. from there in 1959. She held residential fellowships
at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (1986-87, 1991-92, and 2003-04),
the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Science (1994-95),
the Russell Sage Foundation (1989-99 and summer 2000), the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio
Study and Conference Center (March-April 200) and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic
Study (February-April 2007).
In 2002, Professor Presser was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (AAAS). The certificate conveying this honor states: "For innovative research on
issues of population, labor force, gender, and social inequality; for exceptional institution
building; and for outstanding service to demographic and sociological societies."
In 2007, she was named the recipient of the American Association of University Women's
Founders Distinguished Senior Scholar Award.
This award recognizes a scholar for her lifetime of outstanding college and university
teaching, her impressive publication record, and the impact she had on women in our
profession and in the community--described in her award letter as "phenomenal."
In addition to conducting basic research in social
demography, Professor Presser studied population and family
policy issues from a national and international perspective and taught courses in these areas.
Working in a 24/7 Economy: Challenges for American Families,
was published by the Russell Sage Foundation in 2003.
She received grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science
Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the W.T. Grant Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation,
the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Population Council.
Her most recent grant with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was a 25-year view of shift work over
the life course, offering a new perspective on work and family time.
Dr. Presser died on May 1, 2012. A remembrance can be found in
the Spotlights page.
A graduate fellowship has been established by her bequest and
accepts donations in her honor.
She will be greatly missed by Maryland, by her sociology and demography colleagues, and by feminists around the world whose cause she championed so well.
Tributes from some colleagues and students:
from Tracy Andrews, a former student.
from Suzanne Bianchi, former Chair of Maryland Sociology.
from Philip Cohen, Professor of Sociology and a former student.
from Sonal Desai, Professor of Sociology.
from Karen Mason, former PAA President.
from Claire Moses, Professor Emerita of Women's Studies.
from Gary Oates, a former student
If you would like to leave a memory, please send it to
The oral history that Jean Van der Tak conducted with Harriet as part of Jean's series of oral histories with PAA Presidents can be read here:
Presser PAA Oral History.
Sociology 640: Population Policy in Social Context
Sociology 641: Work and Family Policy
Sociology 644: Gender, Work and Family
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