Gerald H.F. Gardner

On this date in 1926, Gerald Henry Frazier Gardner was born in Tullamore, Ireland. He studied mathematics and theoretical physics at Dublin’s Trinity College. He earned a master’s in applied mathematics from Carnegie Institute of Technology (1949) and a doctorate in mathematical physics from Princeton (1953). Gardner worked in applied seismology for several decades, and taught at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), Rice University and the University of Houston. Gardner actively pursued equal rights for women in his life. Along with his wife Jo Ann Evansgardner, whom he married in 1950, Gardner was an early member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization for Women. Dr. Gardner and the chapter in 1969 challenged sex-based employment ads in the Pittsburgh Press. Employment want ads used to list separate pages of "Male Wanted," "Female Wanted," which barred women from much professional work. Gardner specifically provided statistical analysis of the likelihood of women finding employment in such a structure. This led to landmark women’s rights decision in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld a Pittsburgh ordinance that prohibited sex-based employment advertisements. The result? Want ads were "sexegrated" around the nation, a huge boom for women's employment rights. Gardner contributed statistical analysis in other cases involving gender and race discrimination and considered this work the most important of his life (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “Obituary: Gerald H.F. Gardner / Scientist, teacher, social activist and feminist,” by Don Hopey, July 27, 2009). He and his wife were Life Members who joined FFRF in the late 1970's, and even left a bequest to FFRF. Dr. Gardner, who was known for his kindness, died of leukemia at the age of 83. D. 2009.

Gardner “was an activist atheist, a proselytizing atheist. He thought that not saying you were an atheist hurt the cause of reality.”

—Gardner’s wife, Jo Ann Evansgardner, remembering her husband in his New York Times obituary, “Gerald Gardner, 83, Dies; Bolstered Sex Bias Suit,” by Bruce Weber, July 28, 2009

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

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