Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

The First Female Academics in Programs of Educational Administration in Canada: Riding Waves of Opportunit/savoir Saisir L'opportunité: Premières Femmes Universitaires Au Sein Des Programmes D'administration De L'éducation

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

The First Female Academics in Programs of Educational Administration in Canada: Riding Waves of Opportunit/savoir Saisir L'opportunité: Premières Femmes Universitaires Au Sein Des Programmes D'administration De L'éducation

Article excerpt

In 2012, The Council of Canadian Academies undertook a comprehensive review of the effects of gender on the research capacity in Canada. Among its many findings, the report notes that since the 1970s, there has been major progress in both the number of women students at the PhD level and faculty in tenure track positions (Council of Canadian Academies, 2012, p. 3). However, the expert panel also noted that after forty years of greater participation in academia, women still occupy the lower faculty ranks disproportionately in relation to their overall participation rates, although representation is uneven across the various academic disciplines (p. xv). These findings, while disheartening, are hardly surprising as they reflect years of academic research findings looking at institutional responses and / or resistance to women's participation within universities and their contributions to knowledge production (e.g., Anderson, & Williams, 2001; Brooks, & Mackinnon, 2001; May, 2008; Pierce, 2007; Quinn, 2003; Reimer, 2004; Sagaria, 2007; Superson & Cudd, 2002; Thorne, 2005).

Often described as the "chilly climate" of higher education (Hannah, & Vethamany-Globus, 2002; The Chilly Collective, 1995), most of this literature attends to the experiences of women in faculties where they have traditionally been underrepresented: e.g., Science and Engineering (Burek & Higgs, 2007; Essien, 1997; Ingram, 2005; Manitoba Education Review Commission, 1992); Economics (Stewart, Malley, & LaVaque-Manty, 2007), Archaeology (Spector, 2007), Management (Hornby & Shaw, 1996), History (Kealey, 1990) and Mathematics (Megaw & Rogers, 1998). However, there has been growth in the literature that includes faculties in which women have been more highly represented, such as Sociology (Pierce, 2007), the Humanities (Rosenberg, 2006), Social Work (DiPalma, 1995), Home Economics (Nerad, 1999) and Women's Studies (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), 1976; Davis, 2007; Robbins, Eichler, Luxton, & Descarries, 2008).

Our research adds to this latter body of literature as its focus is on the experiences and contributions of the first women academics in educational administration in Canada. We find this particular group of women compelling as, unlike other fields of academic study in faculties of education, educational administration faculty were almost entirely male until well into the 1990s (Reynolds & Young, 1995, Ch. 1). Women who did take up these faculty positions, did their graduate work, built an academic curriculum vitae and sought positions in a highly masculinist academic environment that provided almost no models of women in academic positions. Further, because the discipline of educational administration details the foundations of organizational analysis and history, and faculty members in this discipline are a logical pool from which faculty administration and leadership is drawn, many of these women faculty were among the first to take on administrative roles in institutions that were largely male dominated. As a result, early women faculty in educational administration programs present a particularly interesting group of subjects for our research. In this article, we draw on data from the first stage of a multi-layered research project that examines the experiences and contributions - both institutional and academic - of female academics in programs of Educational administration in Canada

RESEARCH CONTEXT AND METHODOLOGY

The first stage of our research design, and the data upon which this article is based, was comprised of personal interviews with 10 participants - two in British Columbia, two in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan, two in Ontario, two in Quebec, and one in New Brunswick.1 The personal interviews explored the participants' individual experiences, both personal and professional, at different points of their faculty careers: (a) before graduate school; (b) during their graduate work; (c) securing their position as one of the first female faculty members in their respective departments; (d) the time between securing the position but before tenure; (e) the time after tenure but before thoughts of retirement; (f) nearing retirement; and, if applicable, (g) after retirement. …

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