Innovative A&S faculty and student-led courses ignited popular demand for women’s studies program 50 years ago at U of T

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh (centre) leading a women’s studies class at U of T in 1975.
Photo credit: University of Toronto Archives/ Robert Lansdale.

The story behind one the oldest women’s studies programs in Canada begins with the tale of two courses launched 50 years ago in the face of daunting odds and withering skepticism.

Women’s studies became part of the curriculum in 1971 when history professors Natalie Davis and Jill Conway began co-teaching “History of Women,” while a collective led by undergrad Ceta Ramkhalawansingh started “Women in the Twentieth Century,” one of the first interdisciplinary courses at U of T.

“It’s a story about years of caring, collective labour in the face of and despite obstacles, to move from these courses into a fully fledged undergraduate program in 1974,” says Alissa Trotz, director of the Women & Gender Studies Institute.

Read more about the history of WGSI here.