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Synopsis

This book of personal essays by over forty women and men who founded women’s studies in Canada and Québec explores feminist activism on campus in the pivotal decade of 1966-76. The essays document the emergence of women’s studies as a new way of understanding women, men, and society, and they challenge some current preconceptions about “second wave” feminist academics.

The contributors explain how the intellectual and political revolution begun by small groups of academics—often young, untenured women—at universities across Canada contributed to social progress and profoundly affected the way we think, speak, behave, understand equality, and conceptualize the academy and an academic career. A contextualizing essay documents the social, economic, political, and educational climate of the time, and a concluding chapter highlights the essays’ recurring themes and assesses the intellectual and social transformation that their authors helped set in motion.

The essays document the appalling sexism and racism some women encounter in seeking admission to doctoral studies, in hiring, in pay, and in establishing the legitimacy of feminist perspectives in the academy. They reveal sources of resistance, too, not only from colleagues and administrators but from family members and from within the self. In so doing they provide inspiring examples of sisterly support and lifelong friendship.

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