Dr. Carolyn Mazure is a dynamic force in the field of women's health. In 1998, she established Women's Health Research at Yale (WHRY), a gender-specific research facility that generates scientific investigations of gender differences, broadening the scope of knowledge on all human health. Dr. Mazure is also a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale and has helped to raise millions of dollars for women's health research, transforming the way we think about and treat women's health issues.
Born in New York, Dr. Mazure earned a B.A. from the State University of New York and a Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University. She came to New Haven, Conn., to train as a clinical psychology intern at the Yale University School of Medicine and would eventually become the school’s Chief Psychologist and Professor of Psychiatry.
Until the 1990s, women had not been included in clinical research as a gender-specific group. Scientists had assumed that research results from studies involving male subjects would also apply to female subjects. However, when women were included in studies, results showed that this was not always the case. Believing that this could lead to new and exciting research opportunities, Dr. Mazure pioneered a new avenue of research by applying for and receiving funding that enabled her to found the WHRY, the nation’s largest interdisciplinary research program devoted to women’s health research. WHRY initiates new research, answering pressing health questions for women and focusing on the importance of gender difference in understanding a variety of conditions affecting women including cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. WHRY also builds research collaborations nationally and launches new investigators into careers studying gender and health. A prolific writer and expert on stress and depression in women, Dr. Mazure is also the Scientific Director for Yale’s National Institutes of Health-funded specialized center for research on gender-specific factors associated with stress and cocaine addiction. The center’s work has led the way in innovative and effective research on depression, underscoring the value of gender-specific data.
In addition to the WHRY and her own research, Dr. Mazure is the Yale School of Medicine’s Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs. In this role, she is responsible for all appointments and promotions, developing faculty policy, and managing the hiring, advancement, retention and retirement of more than 1,500 full-time faculty members. She has also played a significant role on the international stage, lecturing at the Smithsonian and NASA and testifying before the U.S. Congress on issues related to women's health. She has thus impacted national policy and broadened the scope of women's health in the U.S. and around the world.
Dr. Mazure’s immense vision and boundless dedication to exploring and identifying gender-specific differences in health and disease have been rewarded with numerous honors. In 2007, she received the Marion Spencer Fay Award honoring a distinguished woman physician or scientist whose national leadership has had a major impact on research and the application of science to healthcare. The American Psychological Association Committee on Women in Psychology’s Distinguished Leadership Award, recognizing innovative research and leadership that improves women’s lives and health outcomes, was presented to her in 2008. In 2010 she was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.
During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice
Feminism in the late 1960s was aided by President Kennedy, who formed the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and his successor, President Johnson, who backed passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. Difficulties in implementing the law through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) led a group of women in 1966 to create the National Organization for Women (NOW), demanding “action to bring American women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now.”
A younger group called for a more radical approach to social change than simply considering what was possible to achieve politically. “Women’s liberation” demanded freedom without limitation. Some took part in consciousness-raising groups, others demonstrated against the Miss America pageant, and many discussed their expectations of mutual enjoyment of sex. They established rape crisis centers, domestic shelters, and women’s studies programs. Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act also increased pressure on universities to hire more women faculty and expand the number of female college athletes. Activist protest among gays and lesbians, such as the Stonewall Riot, symbolized this group’s potential to resist oppression.
Under pressure, many states repealed legislation prohibiting abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized its availability to women in Roe v. Wade. Also in 1973, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the ERA, and states began its ratification.
Yet, dissension arose in the ranks of the movement, as it had earlier after passage of the 19th amendment. Feminists disagreed as to whether pornography should be banned or protected as a form of free speech, and whether lesbian identities should be kept secret or disclosed. Black women were more concerned with poverty and welfare in their communities than with personal career advancement; for them, sterilization abuse was more important than abortion, and they were deeply insulted by attacks on the African American family as matriarchal and dysfunctional.
A backlash was growing in the 1970s, along with a New Right in politics. The ERA was defeated and opposition to abortion increased. Conflicts between pro-life and pro-choice candidates have impacted every presidential campaign since then.
Still, gains have been made in many areas. From 1960 to 2000, increasing numbers of women sought entry to higher education, and bachelor’s degrees awarded to them increased from forty to sixty percent. Definitions of marriage have changed, as when courts gave full rights and responsibilities and the name of marriage to same-sex civil unions in Connecticut in 2008. The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 highlighted concern about sexual harassment on the job, and the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC have increased, as have judgments in favor of the women. Finally, in 2009, women crossed the fifty percent threshold and became the majority of the American workforce. Once largely confined to repetitive manual jobs, now they are running organizations that once treated them as second-class citizens.
The Women’s Movement has changed women’s lives, influenced the economy, and made debate about their roles, family life, and sexual conventions central to national politics and American history.
Special thanks to Barbara E. Lacey, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, St. Joseph's College (Hartford, CT) for preparing these historical summaries.