Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sarah "Sally" Stephenson Jan. 20, 1923 - March 10, 2015 Stood Up for Women's Rights

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sarah "Sally" Stephenson Jan. 20, 1923 - March 10, 2015 Stood Up for Women's Rights

Article excerpt

Sally Stephenson spent World War II as a Navy Wave teaching male pilots how to fly, but she wasn't allowed to fly herself because she was a woman. She dedicated a great deal of the rest of her life to ensuring the same wouldn't be true for the women who came after her.

Ms. Stephenson of Monongahela, who in addition to battling for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment taught at California University of Pennsylvania for 19 years and chaired the Social Sciences Department, died March 10. She was 92.

Ms. Stephenson's passion for history and women's rights came together in the classroom. According to niece Shelley Wolf of Bethel Park, who sometimes sat in on her aunt's classes, Ms. Stephenson often faced criticism of her insistence that women could accomplish all that men could.

"She battled those young boys in those classes," Ms. Wolf said. "They didn't want to hear it."

Ms. Wolf also remembers Ms. Stephenson talking about the lack of a restroom for female professors in the classroom building where she taught, indicating that the women's rights movement still had a long way to go.

Among the hundreds of Cal U alumni Ms. Stephenson taught is Geraldine Jones, the interim president of the university.

"Dr. Stephenson was my professor for world cultures. I remember her telling the class in 1968 about the little-known country of Kuwait and how important it would become in the future," Ms. Jones said.

Ms. Jones also remembers Ms. Stephenson as a colleague, one who went out of her way to mentor Ms. Jones and other younger faculty members.

Ms. Stephenson's interest in learning about world cultures went beyond the classroom, and she was in China on Jan. 1, 1979, when the United States officially recognized the People's Republic of China, thus normalizing relations with the country. While there with the National Education Association, she conducted sessions that taught female delegates about the progress of the women's rights movement in the United States. …

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