“Chapel Hill is a beautiful place, and I was wanting to get out of Livermore for an academic position, so we went there, both of us, as visiting research professors. After a few years I was given a regular professorship and Cecile was demoted to a lecturer.” -Bryce DeWitt
“Without being told it was a demotion. ‘Oh, it will be so much better for you.’ And that’s the part I didn’t like, the hypocrisy of letting me believe that it was better.” -Cecile DeWitt-Morette
When you have rules that treat men and women equally in theory, but the practical application of the rules leads to unequal results, that’s a classic example of a rule that doesn’t work. In the case of the towering figure in mathematical physics, Cecile DeWitt-Morette, that meant she was denied a professorship at a number of places, despite her more-than-sufficient qualifications and achievements.
But the same woman who overcame the bombing of her hometown and the death of her family in World War II wouldn’t be stopped by institutional sexism, and went on to have a prolific and successful life and career for decades, including more than 40 years as a professor at UT-Austin.