Thanks to SCARC student Mary Williams for this post on Jeanne Dost, who among many other things was a Professor of Economics and Director of Women’s Center AND Director of Women Studies.
Born in Walla Walla, Washington on August 12, 1929, Jeanne Dost is well known as the warrior at the front lines of women’s rights in the state of Oregon’s universities. She spent most of her career fighting for her rights on Oregon State’s campus opening up opportunities for all women entering the world of academia. Dr. Dost came to OSU in 1967 as a part-time Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics and was given the title of Professor Emeritus when she retired in 1991 after helping to start the Women Studies program and Women’s center.
Jeanne and Frank Dost married in 1950 after meeting at Washington State University where she completed her undergraduate degree in Economics. From there the two moved to Massachusetts for Dr. Dost to complete her A.M. in Economics at Harvard University between the years if 1951 and 1953. Once obtaining her graduate degree, Dr. Dost continued to work for her PhD at the same university, which she completed six years after her A.M. Between the years of 1953 to 1959, she worked as a Research Assistant at Harvard, an Instructor in Economics at Kansas State, and gave birth to her two children Karen, 1955, and Frederick, 1959. Finally, the family found their way to the Pacific Northwest when Dr. Dost acquired as position as an instructor at Washington State University in Economics.
The Dost’s ultimately came to Oregon State University when they were both offered positions in their field of academia, but Dr. Dost was only hired as a part-time instructor for Introductory Economics. This differed highly from her other at WSU, where she recalls teaching graduate level courses. From the years 1967 to 1972 she attempted to be hired in a full-time position as an Associate Professor for Economics. In 1969, the opportunity arose when a position opened up for a full-time Associate Professor in Regional and Urban Economics, which she focused on when study for her PhD at Harvard. With multiple years of experience, involvement in different committees, and a vast education background, it was easy to assume that she would get the job. To her dismay, Dr. Dost was passed up for a man who was completing his Master’s degree in economics, and only after he decided to pass on the offer she was offered the position at part-time. After this she began to research the treatment of female faculty for University of Oregon, Oregon State, and Portland State, to see if this was a common flow in Oregon’s academia. She returned with dismal results which showed how widespread this epidemics was. For Jeanne Dost, this was blatant sex discrimination and she voiced her opinion, to which she was fired soon after.
She formerly filed a complaint about the ordeal with Oregon State’s Faculty Review and Appeals Committee, the Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and Oregon’s Bureau of Labor Civil Rights Division. Oregon State’s Faculty Review and Appeals Committee found to no discrimination based on sex but rather on personality, claiming that she was considered “pushy” from others in the department, meaning they felt nothing needed to be down. In late 1971 though, the Bureau of Labor Civil Rights deemed it as obvious sex discrimination and highly recommended they hire Dr. Dost as a full-time Associate Professor with tenure. Six months later she was hired in that role but without tenure.
After this experience Dr. Dost knew there needed to a change on campus, she and colleagues advocated for the Women’s Center which opened the academic year of 1972-1973. In August 1973 she and the OSU President, were about able to create a position for her as Director of Women’s Center and Director of Women Studies. From there she pushed for the much needed change by making the Women Studies program grow so much that by 1978, a student could gain a graduate degree in the program.
Dr. Dost continued to make change on Oregon State’s campus until her retirement as Emeritus Professor in 1991. Although she continued to be involved, her experiences left Jeanne Dost with a bad taste in her mouth when it came to OSU. She decided to remove herself from the university completely, offering all of her works to the Archives at the University of Oregon. After her retirement, she and her husband Frank moved to the British Columbia for about four years but finally settled into a home in Freeland, Washington around 1995. During her retirement she wrote the book Women: Two Decades of Discovery where she examined the wage gap and other economic disparities between the sexes. Dr. Jeanne Dost passed away in 2012 from Leukemia and Alzheimers and is survived but her loving family, Frank, Karen and Frederick.