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PASSINGS / Gerald H.F. Gardner

Helped end sex bias in job ads

August 08, 2009|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Gerald H.F. Gardner, 83, a geophysicist and mathematician whose statistical research and expert testimony led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that eliminated sex bias in newspaper want ads, died July 25 at a hospital in Pittsburgh. He had leukemia.

Gardner, a founding member of the Pittsburgh affiliate of the National Organization for Women in the late 1960s, joined the chapter's battle against bias in help-wanted ads. At the time, many papers had separate job openings categories for men and for women.

He calculated the amount of money a woman would lose over a lifetime because she was barred from applying for jobs advertised as open only to men.

His research became the basis for the complaint against the Pittsburgh Press.

The Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations upheld the complaint, and the newspaper took the ruling to court, arguing that it violated 1st Amendment rights of the freedom of the press.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the newspaper's practice was illegal. The decision changed employment advertisements throughout the nation.

Gerald Henry Frasier Gardner was born in Tullamore, Ireland, on March 2, 1926.

He graduated from Dublin's Trinity College in 1948 and a doctorate in mathematical physics from Princeton University in 1953.

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