- Coordinator of the KU Women’s Studies Programs from 1976-1979
- Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Sociology and Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Studies
- Editor of U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau research report Women in High-Tech in 2001
- 1974: worked with the female Colombian politician Cornelia Flora in preparation for Colombian national elections
- Administrative Intern in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs
- 1977: Co-taught the first KU Women’s Studies Introductory core course, “Women in Literature and Society”
Shirley Jane Harkess, Assistant Professor Emeritus of Sociology and teacher of Latin American Studies and Women’s Studies, successfully blended her many interests into a prolific and productive research, teaching, and leadership career.
She received her BA in 1967 from the College of William and Mary, including a summer semester in the Netherlands. She completed her MA in 1970 and her PhD in 1973, both from Cornell University.
At the University of Kansas, she taught full-time for 33 years in Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Latin American Studies. Her areas of interests include the sociology of sex and gender, family sociology, sociology of Latin America, and the sociology of work and demography (labor force participation, urbanization, migration). Professor Harkess has excelled in the classroom, having been nominated twice for the HOPE Award. She has been involved with numerous departmental and university committees and also served as an Administrative Intern in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs.
Professor Harkess was Coordinator of the KU Women’s Studies Programs from 1976-1979. With Professor Janet Sharistanian, she taught the first Women’s Studies Introductory core course, “Women in Literature and Society,” in 1977. The very first National Women’s Studies Association Convention was held at KU and the major was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents during her tenure. From 1980-1981, Professor Harkess served as a consultant for the Kansas City, Missori Police Department Rape Project. She also served as an expert witness for court cases. Her publications on the subject include co-editor of Women Working: Theories and Facts in Perspective, “The Impact of Feminism on Mainstream Medical Sociology: An Assessment,” and the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau research report Women in High-Tech in 2001. At the 1984 national meeting of the American Sociological Association, she presented on “Women in the Professions in the 1970s: A Critique of Research in Sociology and Economy”; at the 1985 national meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, her presentation was entitled “Self-Reports of Stress and Domestic Workload Among Employed Women.”
From 1989-1992, Professor Harkess was the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Sociology and the Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Studies. She also served as Director of a Tri-University Conference on Latin America. She has done extensive research in many of those countries. She spent time in 1969 and 1974 in Bogota, Colombia and 1970-71 and 1975 in Cali, Colombia. Much of the 1974 excursion was spent in preparation for the national elections; she wrote many articles on the female Colombian politician Cornelia Flora and worked closely with her on the image of women in the Colombian media. Professor Harkess spent the summer of 1973 in Belo Horisonte, Brazil for an Inter-American Research training seminar sponsored by the Ford Foundation. In 1977, she was allowed to spend two weeks in Havana, Cuba. This trip occurred only a few months after the State Department lifted the travel ban to Cuba, so she had to go to Canada to make her travels.
She is a member of the American Sociological Association, the Population Association of America, Latin American Studies Association, National Council on Family Relations, Sociologists for Women in Society, and the National Women’s Studies Association. She belongs to the Midwest Sociological Society as well, and served on their Board of Directors from 1976-1978.