Judith Barker

Judith Barker

Retired Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences
Faculty, Women's and Gender Studies

Specialty:gender studies and sociological theory


I  grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in a blue-collar family.  I went to SUNY at Buffalo in the early 1960's.  I became involved in the antiwar, civil rights, socialist and feminist movements, but did not complete my degree.  In the early 1970's I moved to Oregon, got married, had a child and then got divorced. 

In 1975 I was a single mother, working as a cocktail waitress and looking for a better way to support myself and my son. I went back to school at the University of Oregon. I was a senior in math, planning to become a high school math teacher, when I went to summer school to take some general educations requirements. I took Introduction to Women's Fiction, Political Sociology, and Ethnic Folklore. These three classes introduced me to academic women's studies, race and ethnicity, and Marxism. In the fall someone, who became a dear, friend told me that if I went to graduate school in Sociology I could study what we today call Race, Class, and Gender. I changed my major within the hour and to make a long story short, here I am today. 

I live in downtown Ithaca.  I enjoy living in a place where I can walk, rather than drive.  We have a nice little neighborhood where I can sit on my front porch in the evening and talk with neighbors.  Being part of a small "community" where people do know each other and sometimes even gather or plan things together is important to me.  

I spend time each summer working in my yard.  Part of that is growing vegetables and preserving some for the winter.  I grew up in an Italian American neighborhood, one result of that is a life time quest to make the perfect tomato sauce and growing the perfect tomato is part of that quest.  I also do things like composting, buidling more raised beds, creating a small rock garden, planting a very small meadow of wild flowers, planting more spring bulbs each year, and thinking of ways to collect rain water.  I would like to create a root cellar and find a way to have a pond without using chemicals or energy or plastic.  In another lifetime I might have been a farmer or a landscaper.

My son lives in Spain and is married to a Spanish/Basque woman.  I spend sometime each year visiting them in Madrid.  Even though I usually do not like cities, I love old town Madrid and feel very much at home there.  I hope to spend more time in Spain in the future.  I am trying to learn to speak and understand Spanish. As the child of immigrants I am proud to speak "broken" Spanish at about an eight year old level.


Women's Lives

Sociological Theory

U.S. Working Class

Race, Class, and Gender

Feminist Theory




The ocean

Niagara Falls

Walking and Hiking

Yard work

Reading Science Fiction

Country Music

Preserving Food

Cooking and eating Italian food















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