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Sandra Schwartz Tangri



Training Location(s):

PhD, University of Michigan, (1969)

MA, Wayne University, (1964)

Primary Affiliation(s):

Howard University, (1980-1998)

Urban Institute, (1982-1985)

United States Commission on Civil Rights, (1974-1979)

Media Links:



Career Focus: Psychology of women and gender; social justice; industrial/organizational psychology; career aspirations.


Sandra Schwartz Tangri was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 27, 1937. Tangri grew up in a working-class Jewish immigrant family. Neither of her parents had completed their high school education. Her father, Haim Schwartz, a published Yiddish poet from a town near Minsk, Belarus, became a wallpaper hanger when he immigrated to the United States. Her mother, Ruth (Rivke) Levine, born in Polane, Ukraine, was a homemaker. Tangri believed her father's passionate sense of social justice and her upbringing in a working-class Jewish family helped form her feminist identity.


It was during the rise of second wave feminism that Tangri's feminist identity started to emerge. At the time, she was also a psychologist-in-training and a mother. She and her then-husband were interested in joining the newly founded National Organization of Women (NOW) (now the largest feminist organization in the United States), whose main goal is to "bring about equality for all women." Tangri also decided her dissertation would focus on women. As she became interested in literature from this new wave of feminism, she also realized the difficulty of being a pregnant woman on the job market.


Tangri has made numerous contributions to the field of feminist psychology. One major contribution resulted from her first line of research, her dissertation. It was a longitudinal study on the male-dominated career aspirations of the 1967 B.A. women graduates from the University of Michigan. According to Jan Hitchcock, one of the graduate students involved in the research, the goal of Women's Life Paths Study (WLPS) was to legitimize and allow further research on the ever-changing and broad range of women's lifestyles. This study was conducted at a time where women's participation in the work force was minimal. With her graduate students, Tangri followed the lives of these women for over 14 years, collecting three waves of data in 1967, 1970 and 1981. In collaboration with Abigail Stewart and her team of graduate students, they later collected another wave of data in 1992-93, for a total of over 25 years following these women's lives. The data from the study are archived at the Henry A. Murray Research Center at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Due to the limitations of the study in accounting for class and race, Tangri launched another longitudinal study at Howard University studying African American women graduates between 1958 and 1968, which aimed to fill in the gaps of knowledge on educated African American women.


Tangri co-edited, with Martha Mednick, the first issue of the Journal of Social Issues on the psychology of women, entitled "New Perspectives on Women" (1972). It was an important issue, and many of the people involved helped to establish Division 35, the Society for the Psychology of Women of the American Psychological Association (APA). Tangri later collaborated with Mednick again, and with Lois Wladis Hoffman, to expand the journal to a book, Women and Achievement: Motivational and Social Analysis (1975).


Having taught at Douglass College (now Douglass Residential College) of Rutgers University and Richmond College (now merged with Staten Island Community College and called College of Staten Island) of City University of New York, in 1974, Tangri left academia to become the Director of the Office of Research at the US Commission of Civil Rights. After five years, she accepted a senior research associate position at the Urban Institute where she was involved in a well-known study on sexual harassment in the workplace called "Sexual Harassment at Work: Three Explanatory Models" (Tangri, Burt, & Johnson, 1982). In 1982, Tangri returned to academia as a newly appointed professor in the Social Psychology Program at Howard University where she worked until she retired due to illness in 1998, as emeritus professor.


Tangri was made a fellow of Division 35 (1980) and Division 9 (1985) of the APA. She has received many awards for her work. For example, she was the recipient of the Association for Women in Psychology's (AWP) Distinguished Publication Award in 1976 for her work on ethics in population, entitled "A Feminist Perspective on Ethical Issues in Population Programs" and The Carolyn Wood Sherif Award, sponsored by Division 35, in 2001 for her outstanding contributions to the field of psychology of gender.


Sandra Schwartz Tangri passed away on June 11, 2003 in Bethesda, Maryland. In honor of Tangri and her work, Division 35 established the Sandra Schwartz Tangri Memorial Award for Graduate Student Research to support graduate research on social justice issues affecting structurally-marginalized women. Abigail Stewart, who worked with Tangri with the WLPS (Women's Life Paths Study), named one of the distinguished University Professor lectures at the University of Michigan after her. These are only a few examples of how Tangri and her work touched the hearts and minds of her colleagues, reflecting their hopes that her feminist legacy will live on.


by Florence Truong (2011)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works:
By Sandra Schwartz Tangri 

Clayton, S. D., & Tangri, S. S. (1989). The justice of affirmative action. In F. A. Blanchard & F. J. Crosby (Eds.) Affirmative action in perspective (pp. 177-192). New York: Springer-Verlag.


Mednick, Martha T.S., & Sandra S. Tangri, (Eds.) (1972). New directions on women. Journal of Social Issues 28, 2.


Mednick, Martha T.S., Sandra S. Tangri, & Lois W. Hoffman, (Eds.) (1975). Women and achievement: Social and motivational analysis. Washington D. C.: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation. 


Tangri, S. S. (1976). A feminist perspective on some ethical issues in population programs, Signs, 1, 895-904. 


Tangri, S. S. (1996). Living with anomalies: Sojourns of a white American Jew. In K. F. Wyche & F. J. Crosby (Eds.), Women's Ethnicities: Journeys through Psychology, (pp. 129-143). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.


Tangri, S. S., Burt, M. R., & Johnson, L. B. (1982), Sexual harassment at work: Three explanatory models. Journal of Social Issues, 38, 33-54.


Tangri, S. S., & Jenkins, S. R. (1986). Stability and change in role innovation and life plans. Sex Roles, 14(11-12), 647-662. 


Tangri, S. S., & Jenkins, S. R. (1993). The University of Michigan class of 1967: The women's life paths study. In K. D. Hulbert & D. T. Schuster (Eds.), Women's lives through time: Educated American women of the twentieth century, (pp. 259-281). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Tangri, S. S., & Kahn, J. R. (1993). Ethical issues in the new reproductive technologies: Perspectives from feminism and the psychology profession. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 24(3), 271-280.


Tangri, S. S., Thomas, V. G., Mednick, M. T., & Lee, K. (2003). Predictors of satisfaction among college-educated African American women in midlife. Journal of Adult Development, 10(2), 113-125.

About Sandra Schwartz Tangri 

Mednick, M. T. (2004).  Sandra Schwartz Tangri (1937-2003). American Psychologist, 59(4), 265.


Tangri, S. S. (1995). Some contributions to feminist research in psychology. In P. Chesler, E. D. Rothblum & E. Cole (Eds.), Feminist foremothers in women's studies, psychology, and mental health (pp. 507-514). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press.