Original photographer:
Douglas Jones

Bill Ganzel


Jenijoy La Belle – "La Belle Storms Cal Tech"

Jenijoy La Belle

Dr. Jenijoy La Belle teaching English literature to science majors as the first female associate professor at Cal Tech. Pasadena CA, March, 1970, photo by Douglas Jones.

Jenijoy La Belle outside her home in Pasadena. The house was built in the 1920s as part of an artists' colony. It's decorated as if it could have existed in the early 1800s when her favorite author, William Blake, was alive and active. December 2012.

In March 1970, LOOK profiled "the first and only woman assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology." They contrasted her mini-skirts, blue eyes, slight frame and breathy voice with her PhD in English literature, dedication to her students and quick wit. It was the magazine's way of acknowledging the growing feminist movement.

But La Belle is not comfortable as a spokesperson for feminism. She was and is an academic and an expert on the poet and artist William Blake. She got some notoriety from the article, and even more when she had to fight for tenure a few years later. Despite the support of her colleagues in the literature department, she was repeatedly denied tenure. She went to the EEOC and their research found a pattern of discrimination against women at Cal Tech.

La Belle is now an emeritus professor and still recognized all over campus. The original photographs were taken by Douglas Jones.

Jenijoy La Belle at Cal Tech