Women Professors and Deans

Access, Opportunity, and Networks
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter argues that the key tension in the historiography of women’s progress as academics lies in its position within women’s and feminist history and the history of education. The themes of institutions, networking, money, and religion provide four hubs from which to reflect on existing work and recognize potential new directions for those seeking to improve either our understanding of the past or the problems of the present. A fifth section discusses the possibility of “border crossings” as an additional lens through which to view the field. The scope of the chapter is restricted to material published in English, and existing lacunae in terms of race, disability, and sexuality are recognized but inevitably repeated. Most examples are taken from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, and Britain, and it is hoped that the themes identified may generate research with a wider geographical scope. Researching women as academics is more complex than simply charting their access and presence; it is also about recognizing their impact on university life and curricula. Two case studies highlight themes of history for the past or present. The first focuses on the role of the British and International Federation of University Women, identifying how women worked together to expand career opportunities. The second considers how campaigns for academic equality today draw on historical explanations for the origins of the problem.


Women professors Networks, Religion, Equality Higher education Gender 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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