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Role of Women as Educators at Elementary, High School and Post Secondary Levels

Following the creation of the Public School System in Manitoba, more work in teaching became available to women. Teaching was seen, however, as a low prestige occupation due to low pay scales and a lack of recognition of the value of teachers’ work. This situation worsened during the Depression when the tax base for public school funding plummeted. During this time, women were paid on a lower salary scale than men making the work situation even more difficult for them. Some women began to take a leadership role in trying to change these conditions, including Aileen Garland (a teacher and later teacher educator), Margery Brooker (the first female inspector of schools in Canada), Sybil Shack (a dedicated and long-time school administrator in Winnipeg and President of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society), and Ruth Emsch (a dominant figure in Manitoba’s rural education community). The work of these women and many others improved teaching conditions and raised the prestige of teaching not only for women but for men as well.

Over the last century, teaching has become a valued profession in Manitoba. The preparation of teachers has gone from a one year program after Grade Twelve to a minimum five year university program. Teachers’ salaries are now respectable. Leadership for the changes has come from The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and other leadership groups in the educational community. 98% of all teachers in the province now have one or more degrees from universities.

Women continue to play more and more leadership roles in all levels of education.

For further discussion on the history of female educators in Manitoba, with a particular emphasis on rural school teacher Jessie McDermott, see Carolyn L. Crippen's dissertation Three Women Pioneers in Manitoba: Evidence of Servant-Leadership.

Mary Kinnear fonds

Archives & Special Collections
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