Smart Girl Stories
Dr. Naomi Zack
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Professor of Philosophy – Scholar, Educator, Writer: Dr. Naomi Zack

Professor of Philosophy – Scholar, Educator, Writer: Dr. Naomi Zack

Dr. Naomi Zack is an absolute inspiration to young women all around the world. As one of the leading feminist philosophers and race theorists in America, she has been a forward-thinker and trailblazer in her field. Dr. Zack’s writings have inspired students and teachers with her refreshingly honest approach to philosophy, race theory and gender studies.

Her contribution to education has been so significant that many of Dr. Zack’s works are now assigned in classrooms across the United States. Dr. Zack’s writing continues to inform our next generation, as well as educators, who strive for inclusive learning experiences for all their students. Her impact on education is undeniable and serves as an ongoing source of inspiration for the future of young women everywhere.

Naomi Zack’s Early Life and Career  

Naomi Zack was born in 1944 in Brooklyn, NY. Her mother was Jewish, and her father was African American and Native American. She was raised by her mother, who was an artist. Zack attended public school in Manhattan before going on to New York University and later Columbia University for her undergraduate and doctoral degrees.  

At NYU, Zack started out as a psychology major and switched to philosophy in her senior year when she found her interests more aligned with the critical spirit of debate in philosophical study. After completing her Ph.D. at Columbia, Dr. Zack left academia for 20 years. She lived in London for several years and produced a film there (EXIT, now archived with the BFI (British Film Institute).

This was followed by varied freelance writing, unsuccessful small business ventures, and several marriages and divorces. Zack returned to academia, first teaching at the University at Albany, SUNY. She began as an adjunct but soon moved up through the ranks and has been a full professor at the University of Oregon and Lehman College, CUNY, where she still teaches. 

Success in Education and Publishing  

When she got back into academic life, Zack discovered a new openness to scholarly analysis of racial identities and social and political problems. As a professor of philosophy, Dr. Zack’s thinking is focused on issues surrounding ethics and notions of morality and what is good. 

Zack’s motivation comes from a commitment to using philosophy to understand the real world. Her thinking both informs students and teachers across education and sparks lively debate among other philosophers. 

She has written over 20 books and is currently updating her 2011 Ethics for Disaster and her 2017 Philosophy of Race, an Introduction. Forthcoming is Democracy, a VSI (very short introduction for the Oxford University Press series). 

A Day in the Life of a Philosopher 

Dr. Zack works for several hours every day (7 days a week and even on many holidays). Her two grown sons and granddaughters live in other cities, but she keeps up with them through Facetime as well as real visits. Zack has a small dog called “Wess” who she says takes her for walks twice a day.

When she’s not reading and writing about serious issues, she enjoys mystery novels by authors from the Golden Age of British Detective Fiction, such as Ngaio Marsh, Marjoie Allignham, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie. If she could do it all over again, she says she would become a dancer! Besides England, Dr. Zack has been to Northern Italy, Scandinavia, Russia, Paris, and Beijing. She would visit the Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand if she could go anywhere. 

As an accomplished professor and philosopher, Dr. Zack has made contributions to social and educational thought that are invaluable. Dr. Naomi Zack is surely an inspiration to all young women not only due to her accomplishments but also because of her insightful thinking, which many have the good fortune of interacting with daily.

Learn about more inspiring girls on our Smart Girls page, or follow our Instagram page for more stories like this!



Founder, Smart Girl, Survivor, Champion of womens rights and kids rights


Smart Girl Stories shares stories of inspiration from writers across the globe.

We ask each writer to adhere to our Smart Girl Stories pledge. The views expressed in our articles are those of the author and are meant to spark conversation and inspire you. They don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SmartGirl Stories. We are honored to share their stories, as well as yours. To learn more – visit us here.

Follow Me

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.