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Equivalence: Elizabeth L. Scott at Berkeley

Amanda L. Golbeck
Chapman & Hall/CRC
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Rebecca Conley
, on

Equivalence is a book with three purposes: to tell the biography of the statistician Elizabeth (Betty) Scott; to give the history of the movement for equality of women at Berkeley University, in which Betty was deeply involved; and finally, to make the reader “feel the intensity of struggles that Betty and others engaged in on a daily basis to try to lessen discrimination of women in academic employment ... [so that] the reader will thereby be catalyzed to do more to try to advance equality in employment” (page xix). The author, who completed her Master’s degree in statistics under Scott, does a good job of balancing these three goals.

The book is organized into nine parts. Part I serves as an introduction to Elizabeth Scott, called Betty throughout the book, and sets the stage for her work towards gender equality at Berkeley and within academia. Part II is biographical, covering Betty’s family, childhood, education, and the beginning of her career. Here, we are introduced to Betty’s aunt Phoebe, who earned a PhD in astronomy in 1913 and is an interesting character in her own right. While Betty was earning her own PhD in astronomy, she took many statistical courses, and the second part of her dissertation was mostly mathematical statistics. Part III contains biographical information and also a general overview of Betty’s career and research, including skin cancer and cloud seeding.

Parts IV through VIII cover the years 1969 to 1978 and are a microhistory of the academic women’s movement both at Berkeley and nationwide. We see the struggle for wage equality, maternity leave, non-discriminatory hiring, fair promotion, a reasonable nepotism rule, and a single co-ed faculty club.

Betty uses statistics to explore the wage inequality between male and female academics at Berkeley. She ultimately puts together “the AAUP kit”, a set of guidelines for constructing and using a regression model to flag possible cases of wage discrimination. These sections are meticulously researched and footnoted, and reference many of Betty’s personal and professional letters, research articles, and notes. It was both fascinating and frustrating to witness the sheer number of committees, reports, and draft resolutions necessary to accomplish such slow change. It is a reminder to not take the gains that were made for granted and an inspiration to continuing working towards equality today. Finally, Part IX summarizes the last ten years of Betty’s life.

The book is well organized and written in a straightforward manner that makes it easy and enjoyable to read. As stated in the preface, “the audience for the book is individuals with interests in statistics, biostatistics, astronomy, higher education, the history of science, women’s and equity studies, and others”. The biographic sections could be of interest to a wider audience. The microhistory sections may have a narrower appeal, as they are highly detailed descriptions of the necessary day-to-day steps towards effecting change in an entrenched bureaucracy. 

Rebecca Conley is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ.

About the Author

I The Betty Book

1 Caught in the Thick of It (1968)
1.1 At Work
1.2 UC and the Urban Crisis
1.3 Berkeley Women and the Urban Crisis
1.4 Berkeley Women Begin to Organize
1.5 A Complicated Set of Problems
1.6 Thick Politics and Early Exhaustion

II Shaping the Life

2 Boots and Saddles (Before 1932)
2.1 Grandfather
2.2 Uncle and Father
2.3 Childhood
2.4 Family Influences

3 Aunt Phoebe’s Telescope (1882–1967)
3.1 Astronomy Education
3.2 Computer Work
3.3 Astronomy Doctoral Studies
3.4 Lick Observatory Work
3.5 Life Career Balance

4 Becoming an Outlier (1932-1939)
4.1 Move to California ·
4.2 University High School Advantage
4.3 Math Advantage
4.4 Science Advantage
4.5 High School to College
4.6 Tunnel Road House
4.7 Neyman Serendipity
4.8 Klumpke Prize and Graduation

5 Ten Thousand Hours of Practice (1939–1946)
5.1 Year One — Getting up the Mountain
5.2 Year Two — Summer at Mount Wilson
5.3 Year Three — Beginning War Work
5.4 Year Four — Lick Fellowship
5.5 Year F ive — University Fellowship
5.6 Year Six — Qualifying Exam
5.7 Year Seven — Ending War Work
5.8 Year Eight — Teaching and Research
5.9 A Symmetric Intellectual Relationship

6 A Rising Star (1947–1954)
6.1 Prospects at Vassar
6.2 Competing Offers
6.3 The UC-Berkeley Decision
6.4 Lecturer in Mathematics
6.5 Remarkable Research
6.6 Instructor in Mathematics
6.7 Assistant Professor of Mathematics
6.8 Trumpler’s Book
6.9 A Retrospective: Betty and Phoebe
6.10 A Retrospective: Phoebe’s Influence

III Clusters of Impact

7 Championing Science (1939–1988)
7.1 Themes and Controversies
7.2 Modern Statisticians, Old Equipment
7.3 Statistical Astronomy ·
7.4 General Statistical Methods
7.5 Bioscience and Health ·
7.6 Symposia, Panels, and Talks
7.7 Managing Neyman

8 The Case of Cloud Seeding (1950–1985)
8.1 Increase or Decrease Precipitation?
8.2 An Emotional Issue
8.3 Radio Broadcast
8.4 Legislative Testimony
8.5 Professional Association Leadership
8.6 Still Cloud Seeding

9. Almost Alone in Statistics (1955–1988)
9.1 New Statistics Department (1955)
9.2 Teaching
9.3 Administrator and Professor
9.4 Colleague Juliet Popper Shaffer
9.5 Flexibility and Resilience

10 Students and Memories (1948–1988)
10.1 Remembrances
10.2 On Mentoring
10.3 On Generosity
10.4 On Personality and Professionalism
10.5 On Concentration
10.6 On Political Acumen
10.7 On Approach to Science
10.8 On the Other Side
10.9 On Gender
10.10 Summing It

11 Letters to Jerry (1954–1955)
11.1 October 1954: Paris
11.2 January 1955: Paris
11.3 February 1955: Paris
11.4 April 1955: Paris
11.5 May 1955: Paris
11.6 Thursday, May 5, 1955: Paris
11.7 Sunday, May 8, 1955: Dieppe, Newhaven, Winchester
11. Thursday, May 12, 1955: Oxford
11.9 Thursday Night, May 12, 1955: London
11.10 Tuesday, May 17, 1955: Cambridge
11.11 Wednesday, May 18, 1955: Paris
11.12 Thursday Morning, May 19, 1955: Paris (continuation of the previous letter)
11.13 n.d: Paris
11.14 Back in Paris
11.15 Monday Midnight [most likely
11.16 Tuesday [May 24,1955]: Paris
11.17 May 26, 1955, 7:20 am: Paris
11.18 Le 26 Mai, 17 hr: Paris
11.19 29 Mai 1955: Paris
11.20 June 1st: Paris [1955]
11.21 Saturday, June 4: Lisbon
11.22 Soul Mates

12 Civil Rights Advocacy (1950–1953, 1963–1968)
12.1 UC Loyalty Oath
12.2 IMS and Racial Segregation
12.3 Civil Rights Solicitations
12.4 Saving Aquatic Park
12.5 Free Speech Movement
12.6 A Changed University


IV The Status of Academic Women at Berkeley

13 A Disgraceful Situation (January–September 1969)
13.1 Two Faculty Clubs
13.2 Berkeley Academic Senate Subcommittee
13.3 Subcommittee Data Collection

14 Making Visible (October–December 1969)
14.1 Subcommittee Research
14.2 Women’s Faculty Group Debriefing
14.3 More Research
14.4 Nearing End of Data Collection

15 Not a Good Time (January–April 1970)
15.1 One Faculty Club
15.2 Interpreting Biases
15.3 Problems in Zoology and Chemistry
15.4 Subcommittee Follow-Ups
15.5 Problems in Mathematics
15.6 Information Exchanges

16 Grounded in Hard Fact (May–June 1970)
16.1 Completing the Subcommittee Report
16.2 Recommendations
16.3 Appendices
16.4 How to Proceed
16.5 Perspectives


V Getting on the Agenda

17 A Tiny Beginning (June–July 1970)
17.1 Subcommittee Report Distributed
17.2 Advocacy Letters
17.3 First Mention of Big Telescopes

18 Persistence of Repeated Themes (August–December 1970)
18.1 Hard Facts about Big Telescopes
18.2 Requesting Action on Recommendations
18.3 Faculty Club Disagreements
18.4 Year End Subcommittee Follow-Ups

19 We Intend to Do (January–March 1971)
19.1 State and System Actions
19.2 Faculty Club and Center Proposals
19.3 De Facto Discrimination
19.4 Berkeley Budget Committee
19.5 UC Survivor Benefits
19.6 Berkeley Senate Progress Report

20 A Little Fire (April–May 1971)
20.1 Finally on the Senate Agenda
20.2 Faculty Club Renovations
20.3 Berkeley Advisory Committees
20.4 Class Action Complaint
20.5 Awakened by Stories and Statistics

VI Affirmative Action

21 Not Easily Erased Overnight (June–July 1971)
21.1 Prizes for Women in Astronomy
21.2 Faculty Club Operations
21.3 University Doing More
21.4 Class Action and Confidentiality
21.5 No Women at the Top

22 A Lot of Power (August–December 1971)
22.1 New Advisory Committees in the UC
22.2 Ideas for AAAS
22.3 Policies and Practices at Berkeley
22.4 Mobilizing a Congressman
22.5 Chancellor’s Advisory Committee Established
22.6 Class Action Impasse
22.7 Berkeley Follow-Ups
22.8 Still Negotiating Confidentiality

23 Weak, Grudging, Incomplete (January–February 1972)
23.1 Carnegie Assignment
23.2 Angela Davis and UCLA
23.3 Advisory Committee Concerns
23.4 Class Action Confidentiality Agreement
23.5 Employment and Benefits
23.6 Feeling the Way

24 Time for Action (March–June 1972)
24.1 Affirmative Action Delays
24.2 Progress on Subcommittee Recommendations
24.3 Affidavit, Dissent, Conferences, AAAS
24.4 New Senate Recommendations
24.5 Carnegie Deadlines, Topics, Connections

VII Salary Equity Studies

25 Facts of the Matter (July–December 1972)
25.1 “Facts of the Matter” Manuscript
25.2 Faculty Club Accepts Women
25.3 AAAS and Women in Science
25.4 Inadequate Input at Berkeley

26 Focusing on Salary Data (January–July 1973)
26.1 More Information Exchange
26.2 More AAAS Activity
26.3 Faculty Club Relationships
26.4 Time for Affirmative Action at UC
26.5 Lack of Senate Quorum
26.6 Carnegie Report Published

27 Society’s Problem (August–December 1973)
27.1 Vision for a Faculty Center
27.2 California Assembly Committee Hearing
27.3 Three Salary Manuscripts

28 Women Generally Receive Less (January–April 1974)
28.1 Disclosing Berkeley Salary Inequities
28.2 Invited Speakerships
28.3 AAUP Joint Committee Venture
28.4 “Underutilization” Methods at Berkeley
28.5 Communicating Methods; Explosive Results
28.6 Responding to “Blasts” and Supporting Individuals
28.7 Class Action Conciliation Agreement
28.8 Time to Improve Pay Reporting at Berkeley
28.9 Big Telescopes Story Challenged

VIII AAUP Higher Education Salary Evaluation Kit

29 Persuasive Analysis (April–December 1974)
29.1 Carnegie Study Backlash
29.2 Top 100 Salaries at Berkeley
29.3 Statistical Scrutiny of Berkeley Affirmative Action
29.4 Campus Attitudes toward Affirmative Action
29.5 Expertise Needed by AAUP
29.6 UC Committee of Statisticians
29.7 Nominated for Affirmative Action

30 High Stakes (1975)
30.1 Faculty Club Relationship Pains
30.2 UC Progress and Problems
30.3 Berkeley Pilot Study
30.4 Initial AAUP Kit Progress
30.5 Federal Testimony on Affirmative Action
30.6 AAUP Pilot Studies Progress
30.7 Equal Opportunity Data

31 Developing the Kit (1976)
31.1 More UC Affirmative Action
31.2 Faculty Club Merger Declined
31.3 More Reports, Advocacy, Testimony
31.4 Berkeley Statistics Department Self-Evaluation
31.5 Mills College Conferences
31.6 Fighting to Hold Gains on Campus
31.7 First Draft of Kit
31.8 Rank as a Salary Predictor
31.9 Next Drafts

32 Completing the Kit (1977)
32.1 Praise and Potential for the Kit
32.2 Old Master at Purdue
32.3 More Salary Work and Kit Dissemination
32.4 Faculty Club Questionnaire

33 Influencing Salaries (1978)
33.1 Persisting Salary Inequities at Berkeley
33.2 Conferences and Colloquia
33.3 Astronomy, Statistics, Engineering
33.4 Idea of a Collaboration
33.5 Irritations
33.6 Kit Promotion and Experience
33.7 Affirmative Action Report Review

IX Conclusion

34 Final Decade of Leadership (1979–1988)
34.1 More Women’s Studies Publications
34.2 More Honors
34.3 Neyman’s Stroke
34.4 Censored Interview?
34.5 Revelations
34.6 Betty’s Fatal Stroke

Publications of Elizabeth L. Scott