Academic Title

Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies & Chair of Gender, Diversity & Social Justice

Research Interests
  • 20th Century U.S. Women’s and Gender History
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Gender and Popular Culture
  • Gender/Sexuality/Race-based Social Movements
  • Women’s Entrepreneurship
Research Summary

My research and teaching interests focus on how “out groups” — those existing outside or on the margins of mainstream U.S. society — survive, thrive and bring about social change. This includes the study of civil, women’s and LGBTQIA rights movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. I am currently completing the manuscript for a book on the emergence of women entrepreneurs in the decades after World War II, and have begun a new project on the ways in which entrepreneurship has served as a form of activism for marginalized groups (women, people of color, LGBTQIA, the poor). I am also writing a chapter for a book on feminist fathering; my chapter will focus on popular television sitcoms of the 1960s and 1970s, feminism and the making of modern fatherhood. Other research interests include the relationship between media/popular culture and gendered perceptions/experiences of aging. In 2016, I was a consultant/member of the scholar working group assisting the Congressional Commission for the proposed American Museum of Women’s History in Washington, D.C.

  • Ph.D., U.S. History, New York University
  • M.A., U.S. History, New York University
  • B.S., Journalism, Boston University
Areas of Expertise
  • African-American Women
  • Entrepreneurship as Activism for Marginalized Groups
  • Feminism and Feminist History
  • Gender Roles
  • Social Movements/Activism/Countermovements
Recent Publications

Debra Michals, “Dads Can Cuddle, Too: Feminism, ’60s Sitcoms and the Making of Modern Fatherhood” in Nicole Willey and Dan Friedman, editors, Feminist Fathering/Fathering Feminists (Forthcoming, 2018, Demeter Press).

Debra Michals, “Stealth Feminists: The Thirtysomething Revolution,” in Robin Morgan, editor, Sisterhood Is Forever (New York: Random House, 2003), 138-144.

Debra Michals, “From ‘Consciousness Expansion’ to ‘Consciousness Raising’: Feminism and the Countercultural Politics of the Self,” in Peter Braunstein and Michael William Doyle, editors, Imagine Nation: American Countercultures in the 1960s and ’70s (New York: Routledge Press: 2002), 41-68.

Mary Beth Norton, Debra Michals, et al. “A People and a Nation” (concise, 8th edition, 2009; concise 9th edition, 2011; concise 10th edition, 2014). (Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage).

Debra Michals, “Standing Their Ground” (women’s efforts to create more equitable workplaces). Smith Alumnae Quarterly, winter 2017-2018.

Debra Michals, “The Rise of the Woman Entrepreneur in the Postwar Era,” A Different Point of View (a publication of the National Women’s History Museum) Volume 25, December 2016.

Debra Michals, “Pakistan’s ‘Rising Stars.’” Smith Alumnae Quarterly, spring 2016.