Our first panel at a major women’s history conference in NZ

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Marian Quartly and Diane Kirkby at the Making Women Visible Conference in Dunedin. Photo courtesy of the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture.

The first public outing for our research on ‘Fostering Women Leaders through Educational Exchange’ was at a major conference on women’s history in New Zealand. The ‘Making Women Visible’ conference took place in Dunedin over 15-17 February 2016. Professors Vera Mackie and Mayuko Itoh, Tanya Fitzgerald and Diane Kirkby presented on the day.

Tanya spoke on NZ women who established themselves in the new field of Home Science in her paper, ‘Networks and connections: Academic women at the University of New Zealand 1911-1961.’ The Department of Home Science at the University of New Zealand (1870–1961) opened in 1911, the first such department in either New Zealand or Australia for the training of women. Although deemed a “woman’s domain” by university administrators, the newly established department presented opportunities for women to establish their own scholarly traditions, undertake work that was intellectually respectable, professionalize the field of Home Science, create an academic community and develop transnational networks and connections.

Diane Kirkby talked about the enthusiastic press coverage received by Australian and visiting American women recipients of the Carnegie and Fulbright schemes from the 1930s to the 1960s, and the role of women journalists in promoting them, often through the society or women’s pages of newspapers. Of special interest were feminist pronouncements made by several women grantees in the 1950s – not a decade usually associated with feminism – on topics such as careers for girls and married women, equality of pay and opportunity and the need for new university courses for women.

Vera Mackie and Mayuko Itoh surveyed the careers of women Fulbrighters from Japan and considered the role of the Fulbright program in fostering women’s leadership in Japan. Since the commencement of the program in 1952, Japanese women Fulbrighters have achieved prominence as Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, university professors, university presidents, artists and musicians.

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