Anne Chapman

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1981


Women's studies at the college level has taken root, flourished and spread in Canada as in the United States. But information about women's studies at the crucial pre-college level seems to be altogether lacking. The following report, based both on reading and interviews, surveys efforts in Ontario, Canada, to counter the male-biased curriculum, including the establishment of courses in women's studies. Although far from exhaustive, the survey may encourage others to amplify, supplement, correct and update it as well as to extend it to other parts of the world.

The extension of women's studies to the pre-college level has had some support in Ontario, particularly from a major Ontario Ministry of Education policy statement in 1975, Sex-Role Stereotyping and Women's Studies, and from Women's Studies: A Multimedia Approach, produced by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority for secondary school teachers, among others, in 1977. The 1978 Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario booklet, Challenging the Double Standard, suggests that the "development of a course devoted to women's studies" for grades 7-10 is something the schools "may want to consider," though it cautions that "considerable thought and planning on the part of the number of committed teachers and a fairly receptive climate throughout the school are necessary preconditions." The Board of Education for the City of Toronto has had a permanent, full-time "consultant in women's studies" since 1977, as have a number of other metropolitan Toronto municipalities. Yet even Toronto, a leader in its concern with women's issues, reports only one high school women's studies course (taught at the urging of the female principal of a 90 per cent female student body); those knowledgeable about other Ontario school systems were not aware of courses elsewhere in the province. This does not mean that such courses do not exist, but it suggests that there are not many of them.



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