Education and career
Mann graduated in Far Eastern languages and literatures from the University of Michigan, then earned her master's degree in Asian languages at Stanford University and then her doctorate there in 1972. Her doctoral dissertation concerned the eighteenth century scholar, Hong Liangji.
She taught briefly at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago in the mid-1970s, and at University of California, Santa Cruz before joining the University of California, Davis, in 1989. At Davis she served as chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of History. She received the Outstanding Mentor Award from the UC Davis Consortium for Women and Research.
She was married to the anthropologist G. William Skinner until his death in 2008.