Torch Award for Women’s Equality

On September 29, 1977, women in Seneca Falls, New York lit a torch and began a relay to bring it to Houston, Texas, the site of the first (and only) National Women’s Conference, symbolically charting a course between the first Women’s Rights Convention of 1848 and the modern movement for women’s liberation. The Women’s Caucus at the University of Delaware has chosen the torch as a symbol of both past and present efforts to achieve equality and improve the quality of employment for women at this university. We recognize the remarkable distance that the university has traveled, express our deep gratitude for the policies and opportunities that exist thanks to decades of advocacy, and continue to work toward full equity.

2015 Torch Award Winner

Barbara Settles | Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

2015 Torch Award winner Barbara Settles (right) poses with Professor Bahira Trask

2015 Torch Award winner Barbara Settles (right) poses with Professor Bahira Trask

Settles joined UD as an associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) in 1968. When she arrived at UD, benefits like maternity leave, equal pay for equal work and provisions for work-family balance were not common practice. But through her efforts, Settles helped lay the groundwork for a more equitable environment for women.

In 1964, Settles became a member of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and soon after coming to campus became founding member of the AAUP UD chapter. She worked simultaneously with a team to organize the first Collective Bargaining Team at UD, which organized as a union in 1972. Settles was the first woman at UD invited to participate in the initiative.

She also played a key role in the pursuit of women’s pay equity as the chairperson of the Salary Committee in 1976. Settles arranged for an external AAUP expert to visit and analyze the budget, which led to the conclusion that “low pay for women was a choice not a necessity.”

Settles worked with the union over the next 25 years, holding various roles as a committee chair and on the executive board; she also often served as a grievance officer in major cases involving departments and female faculty issues.

Professor Bahira Trask, who nominated Dr. Settles for this award, wrote about Dr. Settles’ career:

“She was literally one of the pioneers: when she first came to UD, benefits like maternity leave, equal pay for equal work, and provisions for work-family balance were virtually unheard of. However over the years, Dr. Settles worked tirelessly and with great enthusiasm to educate, advocate, and encourage female employees to stand up for their rights –and to ensure that men heard them. It is not just for her initial efforts, but also the depth and continuity of these achievements, that Dr. Settles needs to be respected, recognized, and celebrated.”

Article originally published in UDaily on May 14, 2015.


2014 Torch Award Winner

Pam Cook | UNIDEL Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Associate Dean of Engineering

2014 Torch Award winner

Pam Cook receives the 2014 Torch Award.

As a co-principal investigator on UD’s National Science Foundation ADVANCE PAID award, she has directed efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of women faculty in STEM departments. She leads UD’s Women in Engineering program, which supports female graduate students and faculty through workshops, guest speakers, networking opportunities and mentoring.

Since she became associate dean of engineering in 2002, the College of Engineering’s female faculty representation has increased from 4.5 percent to 16.6 percent. Under her leadership the College of Engineering received funds to establish two junior chaired professorships for women, the Mills Chair and the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorship.

Cook served as chair of UD’s Commission on the Status of Women for six years. She received the 2012 University Change Agent Award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) and the 2009 University of Delaware Trabant Award for Women’s Equity for her efforts on behalf of women at UD.

Article originally published in UDaily on March 26, 2014.


2013 Torch Award Winner

Mae Carter | Women’s Studies


2012 Torch Award Winner

Anne Boylan | History

Left to right: Marcia Nickle, Anne Boylan, Rebecca Davis

Left to right: Marcia Nickle, Anne Boylan, Rebecca Davis

In 2012, we recognized Anne Boylan, Professor of History, for her outstanding contributions to the cause of women’s equality at the University of Delaware, with the 2012 Torch Award for Women’s Equality. Anne served on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women for many years, worked with ADVANCE to develop strategies to bring more female faculty into the College of Engineering, has mentored countless female undergraduates, graduate students, and new faculty, and contributes service and teaching to Women’s Studies. Her undergraduate and graduate courses in American Women’s History have introduced hundreds of UD students to women’s history.

Last spring, Anne and a cohort of other women who had served on the former Commission on the Status of Women circulated a letter calling for participation in the newly created Women’s Caucus. Anne organized two community meetings, gathered email addresses, and identified female faculty and staff to form the first board of directors. Ever conscious of the importance of historical memory, Anne wrote a brief history of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. Without Anne’s vision, guidance, patience, determination, and wisdom this caucus might never have formed; now it is up to those of us who belong to the caucus to carry the torch that Anne has handed us.