OBITUARY – Margrit Eichler – Friend, mentor, scholar, activist, adventurer (1942 – 2021)

Margrit Eichler, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto, passed away in Toronto on July 8, 2021. Born in Berlin, Germany, 28 September 1942, Margrit attended the University of Goettingen (1962-65), and the Free University of Berlin (1965-66). She received her MA from Duke University in 1968, and her Ph.D. in 1972.     

She began teaching at the University of Waterloo in 1971 before joining the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in 1975. She has worked at OISE and the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto in a variety of roles throughout her career. From 1999-2003 she served as the first Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute, one of many academic leadership positions she undertook. She was President of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women and President of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. Her research themes and areas of interest include non-sexist research methods, new reproductive technologies, contemporary families, and related issues. She has written and published extensively on these subjects, as well as authored a children’s book, Martin’s Father. For many years SSHRC advised applicants to refer to her publication Nonsexist Research Methods (Routledge 1989) when designing studies. Internationally, Margrit’s intellectual leadership contributions included a collaborative project with China entitled “Women and Minorities as Educational Change Agents”.Her Bias Free Framework (with Mary-Anne Burke), published by the Global Health Research Forum, has been used in many countries.   

Margrit was part of a collaborative project with China entitled “Women and Minorities as Educational Change Agents,” supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 1996-2001. The project provided critical opportunities for young women faculty to take social and educational leadership in the coming decades. 

Margrit’s path-breaking career included extensive service on committees, editorial boards, and consultation services. Highlights include, working on the committee to establish five new university research chairs in Women’s Studies; the coalition to call for a Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies; a consultant to the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, various levels of government, as well as an export witness at a number of tribunals. She held the Nancy Rowell Jackman Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University (1992-93); and was the recipient of many honours and awards, including being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the European Academy of Sciences.  

After she retired Margrit continued to be active on many fronts. She joined the Academy for Lifelong Learning, leading numerous workshops and was elected president 2014/15. In 2013 she founded ORK: Our Right to Know — an advocacy group of concerned citizens committed to public science that serves the public good. In recent years she was also president of her downtown neighbourhood Association – the list goes on. Margrit also used these years to indulge her love of travel, balanced by time at her cottage with friends & family.