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Obituary - Professor Meg Stacey

Originally Published 08 March 2004
Professor Meg Stacey
Professor Meg Stacey

Meg's colleagues in the Department of Sociology pay tribute to the Warwick's first female professor...

Meg, Emerita Professor of Sociology, came to our department in 1974 and remained academically active, despite retiring in 1989, until very recently. For over 25 years she was an integral member of our department and was included in our RAE entry in 2001. We pay tribute to her scholarship, leadership and warmth. She was the first woman professor at Warwick and she successfully chaired the Department between 1974 and 1979.

Meg was a woman of compassion and conviction who put into practice her inclusive vision of society. She was a pioneer in the feminist movement, an eminent scholar of gender, health and healing, and an inspirational teacher.

Her research and publications span many important social issues, from her studies of Tradition and Change in Branbury and the welfare of children in hospitals, to the book that won the Fawcett prize on Women, Power and Politics, and other works on the regulation of British medicine and the legal and ethical dilemmas of the new reproductive technologies. A guiding theme in all Meg’s work was ‘to make a difference’ and to mitigate intended and unintended suffering in medicine, health care and beyond. Meg led by example, challenging oppression and opening up new ways of seeing things in the best traditions of sociological and feminist scholarship. She opened the eyes of both medicine and academe to the hidden, unpaid work of women and children in the health care division of labour and to the reliance of the public world of production on the private world of reproduction. This was a case, as Meg wryly put it, of ‘overcoming the two Adams’ in which Adam Smith’s formal division labour subordinated Adam and Eve’s informal division of care. She pioneered a dialogue between the voice of medicine and the voice of the lay-world. This was an important precursor of the contribution of social science to medical curricula, including that of the Leicester-Warwick Medical School.

Meg was a founder member of the Centre for Women and Gender Studies and the Centre for Research in Health, Medicine and Society at Warwick (now absorbed into the new Institute of Health). She also served as a lay member on the General Medical Council from 1976-1984, and was Executive Chair of the Human Values in Health Care Forum. In April 1999 an international gender, health and healing conference, hosted by the Centre for Research in Health, Medicine and Society, was held to celebrate Meg’s life and work. It was a truly memorable and momentous occasion and a testimony to the affection as well as respect that Meg enjoyed across the public / private divide.

Meg died on 10th February 2004. She will be sorely missed as a colleague and a friend, an advocate and ally, a mother and companion. Perhaps, most of all, she will be remembered for the warmth of her smile, the twinkle in her eye and the wisdom of her words, leaving us all to pick up where she left off. We will do our best, Meg, promise…

Meg Stacey's Funeral - No Moaning of the Bar -