Charlotte Striebel

In Memoriam

Charlotte Striebel passed away on Wednesday March 12, 2014 at the age of 84. She was born on July 30, 1929 in Columbus, OH and attended Ohio State University as an undergraduate, where she obtained an M.A. degree in 1952. She went on to University of California Berkeley for graduate school and got her Ph.D. in 1960, working on stochastic processes. This remained the main area of her published research throughout her career. Between 1958 and 1964 she worked at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, CA where she developed the initial workings of the GPS system in wide use today. She also analyzed satellite tracking data as well as statistics associated with Polaris missiles and the recovery of manned space capsules from the Gemini space program. After some time at the University of Chicago she joined the University of Minnesota in 1965, initially in the Statistics Department where she was an Associate Professor. She transferred to the Mathematics Department in 1966, again as Associate Professor. She retired at the end of the academic year 1995. She was the author of 14 published papers.

Charlotte was notable as a strong advocate for equal rights for women. She started a University group called WAMS, (Women Against Male Supremacy) which successfully agitated against the Minneapolis Star and Tribune for their "help wanted" ads listing jobs separately for men and women. She was a long-time member of NOW, the National Organization for Women, where she wrote the first report about the role of women in state employment in 1976. NOW subsequently named an annual award for her: the Charlotte Striebel Long Distance Runner Award, which recognizes a person who has demonstrated persistence, courage, initiative, cooperation and dedication on behalf of women's rights.

One of her most significant achievements was on behalf of girls and athletics. In the early 1970s there were few athletic opportunities for young women in the schools. Charlotte's daughter was a swimmer, but was refused the opportunity to swim for her school. Charlotte took the case to the Human Rights Department in St Paul, filed a lawsuit, and won the case. She subsequently worked with Representative Phyllis Kahn to pass a state law that required equal opportunity in athletics for girls on a state level. We now take it for granted that girls can be athletes as well as boys. At the same time as all this Charlotte became a law student and was awarded a law degree by the University of Minnesota in 1981.

Charlotte put her statistical expertise to good use in a couple of ways in the cause of pay equity for women and in the hiring of women. She made an analysis of statistical models of pay equity, using data from between 1968 and 1994, and this culminated in a statistical method for determination of local government compliance which is still used. She also made a statistical analysis which she used in support of a chemist, Shamala Rajender, who had been denied tenure at the University of Minnesota. That case was settled with a consent decree, and her work has continued to have an impact on the hiring of women faculty at higher education institutions.

After her retirement Charlotte divided her time between South Padre Island, TX, where she enjoyed sailboarding until the age of 82, and Bellaire, MI, where she spent the summers. She is survived by her son and daughter, her brother, and three grandchildren.

Additional Information

Charlotte Striebel Equity Award 

Smithsonian Institution Archives  

Memorial Photo Gallery 

Memorial Pamphlet