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American Sociological Association: Cynthia Fuchs Epstein Award Statement
The Jessie Bernard Award is given annually in recognition of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society. Cynthia Fuchs Epstein is the recipient of this year’s Jessie Bernard Award. Currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Epstein is one of the most distinguished social scientists working on gender today. Her long and distinguished career has been influential not only within the field of sociology but also in advancing women’s equality in the legal profession.
Professor Epstein’s work has pioneered the exploration of women’s exclusion from the professions. Among her books are Woman’s Place (1970) and Women in Law (1981)—both of which established her career trajectory and an entire field of study. Her landmark theoretical work, Deceptive Distinctions (1988), exposes the sociological fallacies of assertions of sex differences.
Perhaps her most central insight is that since women and men are far more similar than they are different—in terms of both abilities and aspirations—the exclusion of women from equal status in the professions is without foundation and can only be attributed to inaccurate stereotypic notions of women’s lives, hopes, and abilities.
The Jessie Bernard Award committee characterized Epstein as a careful and eloquent sociologist, a tireless advocate for women’s equality, and a generous colleague and mentor.