Commentary, Sociology

Alice S. Rossi 1922-2009

Sociologist and feminist scholar Alice S. Rossi passed away last Tuesday at her home in Northampton, Mass. A past president of the American Sociological Association and one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women, Rossi was an outspoken advocate for women inside and outside academe. Rossi both lived by and focused much of her scholarship on her progressive views “on the status of women in work, family, and sexual life.” Her husband Peter H. Rossi, also a distinguished sociologist and author of Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness, passed away in 2006.
From an article on Rossi appearing in today’s New York Times:

Professor Rossi was best known for her studies of people’s lives—those of women in particular—as they move from youth to age. She edited several books on the subject, including Gender and the Life Course (Aldine, 1985); Sexuality Across the Life Course (University of Chicago, 1994); and Caring and Doing for Others: Social Responsibility in the Domains of Family, Work and Community (University of Chicago, 2001).
One of her most influential feminist articles was Equality Between the Sexes: An Immodest Proposal. First presented in 1963 at a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, it was published the next year in the academy’s journal Daedalus.
In the article, Professor Rossi argued that for most women motherhood had become a full-time occupation, a state of affairs that hurt not only women but also the larger society in which they lived. For the well-being of both the women and the culture, she wrote, parity of the sexes is essential.

For more on Rossi’s life and work, read the complete NYT article online, or listen to this fascinating dialogue between Rossi and her daughter for NPR’s Morning Edition recorded in 2007.