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Education Equity

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, leading an early Women Studies class at the University of Toronto, 1975 1.jpg
Ceta Ramkhalawansignh leading an early Women Studies class. Despite interest from many students in these courses it took years of struggle for them to be offered.
One of the first syllabi for the Introduction to Women's Studies class. The class was taught by Kay Armatage, Kathryn Morgan, and Sylvia Van Kirk. 

Absence of Women

Science, medicine, engineering, and law were some of the male-dominated departments at the University. Women who wanted to enter these fields often encountered discriminatory and exclusive ‘boys clubs.’

Some who entered these fields were not taken seriously by male professors and students. Many left these departments because they did not see a future in a field where only men held positions of prominence. 

Women endured toxic environments at the University by creating strong bonds with their peers and mentors of the same gender. Ursula Franklin, a professor in the Engineering department, mentored many women within her field and across campus. 

Change came slowly as the proportion of women at the University increased. In the late 1960s, the University campus flooded with feminist ideals. It became clear that course material lacked gendered perspectives.

In response to this absence, some women wanted to see more courses and programs devoted to women. Groups met and worked together to create what would become the Women and Gender Studies program. 

"My supervisor really saw me as upsetting his male class."

-Joan Simalchik 

Click the play button to listen to Joan Simalchik talk about her experience in the University of Toronto History department in 1975.

Click on "Creation of Women and Gender Studies," in the bottom right, to learn about the first Women's Studies courses and the establishment of the Women's Studies program at the U of T.

Education Equity