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Caribbean Journal of Education

"Invisible Women: The Schooling Scandal" by Dale Spender. Writers and Readers Publishing, 1982

Publication Date: 
September 1982

This book offers readers a careful, thought provoking and detailed analysis of the roles assigned to women in educational systems which have been designed and implemented by men. Although the book addresses the British system, the arguments are also relevant to educational systems elsewhere, and to women worldwide. As the title suggests, the book stresses the 'invisibility' of women - in world history, in the shaping of educational policy, in the content of school curricula - and points out how women become invisible even in the classroom. The author comments that women's "absence, invisibility, inadequacies and deficiencies are massive in the knowledge encoded by men" (p. 34), and that "the process of making women disappear - no matter what their achievements - continues to the present day" (p. 19). The arguments advanced are forcefully expressed, and they are substantiated by historical information and research data. The assertion, for example, that women's protest about men's control of education has extended for over 300 years, is supported by reference to a seventeenth century woman, Aphra Behn, who is used throughout the book as an example of how successfully men have kept the world in ignorance of a woman who not only challenged the injustice of an educational system which gave preferential treatment to men, but was also a successful playwright, having had 17 plays produced in as many years at a time when London had only two theatres. The obscurity which characterises this woman's life is contrasted with the fame of men such as Ben Jonson, Milton, and Dryden.

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