Harvard Educational Review
  1. Changing the Subject

    Women in Higher Education

    Edited by Sue Davies, Cathy Lubelska, and Jocey Quinn.

    Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis, 1994. 215 pp. $85.00, $24.95 (paper).

    Changing the Subject: Women in Higher Education is a collection of nineteen papers inspired by discussions that took place at a conference on Women and the Higher Education Curriculum at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England, in November 1993. The authors, all of whom are women at various stages and with differing status in higher education — from student to professor, from adjunct lecturer to full professor — presented their work to participants in conference workshops in which debate and feedback were encouraged. The papers were then revised to take into account the collaborative input of conference participants, culminating in a volume that addresses a broad spectrum of topics related to women in higher education: juggling the role of mother and academic; confronting prejudice on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual preference in the traditionally White male heterosexual academy; and finding ways to introduce feminist studies into a "dated" curriculum. To help focus and underscore the importance of these topics, editors Sue Davies, Cathy Lubelska, and Jocey Quinn have grouped the papers into three general categories: 1) the experiences of women in higher education, 2) the empowerment of women in higher education, and 3) women changing the mainstream curriculum in higher education. Even though the setting is decidedly British in terms of the authors' experiences (with the exception of one author who was educated and is presently teaching in the United States), the concerns raised by these women are not necessarily country-specific; they are familiar to women in the academy across borders. What may differ for women, depending on location, is the degree to which certain institutions in certain locations have or have not dealt with such issues.

    Changing the Subject: Women in Higher Education succeeds in exposing the many and complex issues related to women in higher education. Despite its comprehensive coverage, however, the book does not provide readers with an in-depth analysis of any one topic, and readers should not expect such close examination. The process by which these papers evolved, that is, in a collaborative forum where women were encouraged to share experiences and thoughts, seems to foster this kind of comprehensive overview, which could be informative for both men and women in higher education.

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