Dorothy Zinberg, Founding Member of the Erikson Council of Scholars, Dies at Age 92



Austen Riggs Center Erikson Council of Scholars founder Dorothy Zinberg dies at age 103. As a Harvard teaching fellow in the 1960s, Dorothy Zinberg approached the famed psychoanalyst Erik Erikson after one of his renowned lectures on human development and challenged the fact that his perspective didn’t include women. His response: “So you do it.” 

Erikson’s comment proved an impetus for Zinberg’s pioneering work in higher education and as an advocate for women. Indeed, throughout her career as a biochemist and sociologist, she mentored generations of female scientists.  

Zinberg started at Harvard in the early 1950s as a research assistant and a graduate student in biochemistry. She was married to Harvard psychiatrist Norman Zinberg, and often met other wives for lunch at the Harvard Faculty Club. In a March, 2001 Harvard Gazette interview, she recalled how women were required to enter the Club, “…you came in from the side entrance; you were never allowed in the front door.” 

Zinberg’s impact on the education and career development of women in the sciences was significant, and her passing on April 14 was felt worldwide. She was a Founding Member and an Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School when she died.  

According to the Belfer Center, her research focused on industry, university, and government arrangements as a function of the increasing commercialization of science; the changes in universities and industry brought about by the information technologies; and Human Resources. She carried out extensive research on the training and employment of foreign scientists and engineers internationally. 

In 1994, Zinberg became a Founding Member of the Erikson Council of Scholars at the Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center. The group consists of scholars with established reputations in their fields and a focused interest or expertise in psychoanalysis. Its membership represents the integration of psychoanalytic thinking with other disciplines—an ideal of the Institute—and their task is to consult to the Institute Director and the Austen Riggs Medical Director/CEO on specific projects. 

“Dr. Zinberg was passionate about the work of the Erikson Institute and the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration between the sciences and the humanities,” says Jane G. Tillman, PhD, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research. “In addition to her valuable consultations, she promoted the Erikson Institute and our work at Riggs to her incredible network of distinguished scholars, politicians, celebrities, and leaders from around the world. We are indebted to Dorothy for her years of service on the Council of Scholars and we will miss her amazing style and intellectual depth.” 




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