Beatrice Metcalf Bain, fondly known by her friends as Bea, was a pioneer feminist known for her commitment to helping women in higher education. She was responsible for the establishment of major women’s programs not only at UC Berkeley, but also California State University at San Francisco and Mills College. Beatrice Bain was born in Berkeley on Halloween, 1915. She received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley in 1936 and an M.A. from Harvard-Ratcliffe in Diplomatic History in 1937. Ms. Bain began her doctoral program at Harvard but left it to return to Berkeley and raise a family.
After her children were grown Ms. Bain reentered the workforce —not as the diplomat she had always intended to be, but as a Junior Specialist (eventually becoming an Associate Specialist) of Agricultural Economics at UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley, Beatrice Bain co-founded the Women’s Resource Center, formerly known as the Center for the Continuing Education and Advancement of Women, serving as its first director from 1972-74. In 1974, she became Academic Assistant to the University Provost and remained in the Office of the President until retirement in 1985.
Outside of UC Berkeley, as an adjunct professor at San Francisco State, she developed a university level women’s studies course—one of the first in the country. The course became the core of what is now the Women’s Studies Program. She also helped found the Math/Science Network (based at Mills College), a group dedicated to encouraging school age girls to study math and science that has become a national organization. In her later years, Beatrice Bain continued to be very active. She became an elder stateswoman of the women’s movement, a supporter of hospice, creator of a support group for retired women and an active participant in the Grey Panthers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Beatrice Bain’s efforts were key to opening doors for women, benefiting not just women’s lives but society as a whole. As Carol Clover remarked she was seen as a “catalyst for women getting together and becoming better people. Her life was a study in grace and effectiveness and we would like in this small way honor it”. Therefore, after her death in 1986 and in consideration of her contributions to women and education, the Group for Research on Feminism and Gender was renamed The Beatrice Bain Research Group in her honor.