Penn alumna receives award for work combating discrimination against women

Honored for her lifelong work on behalf of women everywhere, Carol E. Tracy, the executive director of the Women’s Law Project (WLP) and a Penn alumna and lecturer, received the inaugural Sadie Alexander Leadership Award on Oct. 5 from the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

The award, named for one of Penn's most distinguished alumnae, was presented during a celebration of the Commission’s 60th anniversary at the Warwick Hotel in Center City.

“This was the inaugural Sadie Alexander Award, and these are very broad shoulders for me to stand on,” Tracy explains. “Sadie was a civil rights activist in the ‘40s and ‘50s, when work was much harder and more dangerous than anything I have done. I regard it as an honor and a responsibility.”

The Commission recognized Tracy for her 30 years of work “to combat discrimination in all forms, to make systems responsive to the needs of women, and to create and influence public policy to create a safer, fairer society for women and their families,” according to the program brochure. She has spent 20 years at the helm of the WLP, a Pennsylvania-based public interest law center working to advance the legal status of women at the local, state and national levels. Tracy is also a lecturer in Penn’s interdisciplinary Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies program in the School of Arts and Sciences.
“Much of my work was at Penn,” Tracy explains. She began her work life here, first as a secretary, and then as an undergraduate when she helped to organize the women’s movement, Women for Equal Opportunity at the University of Pennsylvania. She helped to organize a 1973 sit-in protesting rape on campus, which eventually led to the creation of a victim services unit in Public Safety, the Women’s Studies program and the Penn Women’s Center, where she served as director. 

Also receiving accolades from the Commission was the student-led organization Penn Monologues, a program of the Penn Women’s Center, which received an Arts and Culture award. Penn Monologues is a three-year-old co-ed writing and performing group that brings a student perspective to issues raised in Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” including gender-equality, sex and sexuality and the end of violence.