Women's Studies has acquired many of the trappings of an academic discipline, with its own Learned Society (the Canadian Women's Studies Association), several journals (eg, Atlantis, the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Recherches Feministes and Resources for Feminist Research) and degree programs at various universities. However, it also presents a perspective that is brought to a large number of fields, such as feminist sociology, history of women, women in literature, feminist city planning and feminist jurisprudence. It is strongest in the social sciences and humanities, but there is some feminist research relevant to the medical sciences and natural sciences and engineering, particularly in biology and the health sciences.
Concerns and Syndromes
Women's Studies share, across the various disciplines, at least 2 concerns: 1. to identify and analyse sexist aspects within the discipline at issue and, 2. to devise alternatives that have an emancipatory potential and can lead to a transformation of the body of scholarship in question. Sexism in scholarship has been found to consist of a syndrome of related problems which are nevertheless not reducible one to the other. They include the adoption of a male perspective (androcentricity), ignoring sex as a socially relevant category (gender insensitivity), applying different standards to identical male and female traits, behaviours, or characteristics (double standard), investigating one sex only but presenting the data as if they were applicable to both sexes (overgeneralization), treating historically grown gender differences as if they were part of the natural make-up of people (sex appropriateness) and exaggerating the differences between the sexes by categorizing various traits as either masculine or feminine, when in fact they are shared characteristics that are merely differentially exhibited by females and males (sexual dichotomism).
Sexism in Scholarship
Sexism in scholarship can manifest in any or all parts within the research process, from the formulation of the basic question, the choice of title, the language used, concepts employed, data collection, the method chosen, data interpretation and policy recommendations. Women's Studies are concerned with carefully identifying and analysing such problems and presenting alternatives. Women's Studies continue to be a vital source of criticism and hence creative renewal in many areas of scholarship.
Relation to the Women's Movement
Women's Studies is connected to the WOMEN'S MOVEMENT in a number of ways. Both are concerned with improving the situation of women and reducing or eliminating sexism. Most of the instructors identify themselves as feminist, although some men also teach women's studies courses and engage in profeminist research. About 10% of the instructors are men. The women's movement draws on the research conducted by feminist researchers and keeps the attention of the public focused on feminist issues, which in turn creates a demand for courses and more research. In the beginning in particular, there was often resistance to the introduction of women's studies. It was often only after concerted student pressure that the first courses were offered.
Women's Studies are also available at community colleges, CEGEPs and in some high schools.
Author MARGRIT EICHLER
Atlantis, Special issue on women's studies professors XVI, 1 (1990); C. Backhouse and D.H. Flaherty, Challenging Times. The Women's Movement in Canada and the United States (1992); M. Eichler, Non-sexist Research Methods (1991); Groupe de recherche multidisciplinaire feministe. Approches et methodes de la recherche feministe (1985); G. Finn, ed, Limited Edition. Voices of Women, Voices of Feminism (1993); R.R. Pierson, et al, Canadian Women's Issues, 2 vol (1993/95).
Links to Other Sites
Perspectives: Women Artists in North America
View an extensive, colourful and varied collection of fine art by North American women past and present at this interactive Virtual Museum website.
Status of Women Canada
This site offers information about International Women's Day, Women's History Month, International Day of the Girl, Gender-Based Analysis+ (GBA+), and other programs that recognize the role of women in modern Canadian society. From the Government of Canada.
A CBC profile of distinguished Canadian television and radio broadcaster Barbara Frum.
The “Persons” Case
A brief overview of the historic “Persons Case” from the Parliament of Canada website.
The Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site of Canada
This Parks Canada website offers a brief overview of the role of women in Canada’s fur trade.
The Women of Aspenland
This virtual exhibit documents the lives of 170 Alberta women and the historical role of women in Alberta society. A Heritage Community Foundation website.
Celebrating Women's Achievements
An extensive collection of biographies of women who have made substantial contributions to Canadian culture and society. Also offers teaching guides and reference sources. From Library and Archives Canada.
Changing Women, Changing History: Canadian Women
This Library and Archives Canada site features biographies of women activists who have made substantial contributions to the lives of all Canadian women. Also offers teaching guides and reference sources.
“Give us our due!” How Manitoba Women Won the Vote
A fascinating story about the women who fought for, and won, the right to vote in Manitoba, the first province in Canada to grant women the right to vote. From the Manitoba Historical Society.
Gender Research in Music Education
The GRIME website offers links to their online newsletter, the Journal “GEMS,” a bibliography of music education research in gender issues and more. From the School of Music, Queen’s University.
Discover some remarkable women in Canadian history. This extensive site features biographies, stories, illustrations, learning resources, “This Month in Canadian Herstory,” and more. Developed by Merna Forster, a Canadian author, historian, naturalist, and photographer.
Towards Equality for Women: A Chronology of Change and Achievements
A chronology of milestones in the quest for equality for women in Canada. From the website for the Canadian Federation of University Women.
Nell Shipman: a Case of Heroic Femininity
This article about Canadian pioneer film maker Nell Shipman provides a detailed analysis of Shipman's place in the history of women in films and filmmaking. The author, Kay Armatage, states that “Nell Shipman is an exemplary figure, for her story parallels the entry, participation and finally exclusion from cinema that was experienced by women filmmakers as a group in the first stage of film history.” A University of Toronto website.
John Reeves: Portrait of the Woman
A superb photo gallery of prominent Canadian women in literature, business, the arts, civil society, humanities, performance, and science. From the website for the University of Saskatchewan Archives.
Ten Thousand Roses
An excerpt from "Ten Thousand Roses," a book about the "making of a feminist revolution." From Penguin Group (Canada.)
Women Filmmakers: Refocusing
Read excerpts from the book “Women Filmmakers: Refocusing,” edited by Jacqueline Levitin, Judith Plessis, and Valerie Raoul. Probes political, artistic, and economic issues vital to understanding the relationship of women to the art and business of filmmaking. This excerpt was accessed through the “Google Book Search” website.
The Famous 5 Foundation
The Famous 5 Foundation honours the Famous 5 and other Canadian women. See their biographies of the "Famous 5" as well as the latest news about programs and events.
Old and New Ways in the Home
An online feature about the history of improvements in technology used for domestic chores and their impact on the role of women in society. From the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
Women and Photography in Ontario, 1839-1929: A Case Study of the Interaction of Gender
An academic paper that examines both the ways in which women have responded to and have been affected by new technologies (such as photography), and the effect of new technologies on prevailing ideas about women. From "Scientia Canadensis: Canadian Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine."