Mary Craik was born in Louisville in 1924, growing up in the Portland neighborhood. She earned a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Iowa in 1968. That same year she took a position at St. Cloud State University (Minnesota), where she was one of three female faculty members who laid the groundwork in 1972 for the Women's Studies Department by teaching a course, GǣPsychology of Women.Gǥ In 1976 Craik was passed over for the position of chair of the Psychology Department after being considered the top candidate. She sued the university, along with the Minnesota University Board (MUB), the Inter-Faculty Organization/Minnesota Education Association (IFO/MEA), and others in U.S. District Court, alleging class-wide and individual sexual discrimination in employment. In 1981 the defendants were held to be not guilty of unlawful discrimination as to class or to individuals. They appealed, and in 1984 the Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, found in their favor.