Women and Education

Out of all the books we looked at, not one showed women as frequently as men in pictures… (One reader) has 25 stories with male leads, 3 with female leads, 7 where leads are shared. The females who take the lead do not always provide positive models either. When you have to count as female leads a princess who stays in bed for the whole story…the old woman who sewed the top of her apron onto the bottom to make it longer…and Cathy who puts the dog’s hair up in curlers, it is obvious that the field is not overcrowded with strong heroines.

- Excerpt from “A Brief on the Presentation of Girls and Women in the Primary and Elementary Curriculum of Newfoundland”, prepared by the Newfoundland Status of Women Council, 1975

Women’s education was an area of concern in the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and was tackled early on in the Women’s Movement. A special Education group of the Newfoundland Status of Women Council was active as early as 1972. Among other things, this group presented a brief to the Provincial Task Force on Curriculum about the need for sex education and wrote a report on Sexism and Sex-role Stereotyping in textbooks.

Other issues in women’s education included the lack of science courses in some all-girl schools; the guidance of young women into traditional careers (nursing, teaching, typing) only; the lack of women high-school teachers and School Board members; and the need for a Women’s Studies program at Memorial University (which was achieved in 1983).