the Line is the theme of the NTEU’s Bluestocking Week 2013 to be celebrated this year between 12 -16 August.
2013 has been a tumultuous period for gender politics. This makes this year’s Bluestocking Week an even more critical moment for women working in higher education. The theme is ‘Holding the Line’ and the necessity of resistance to sexism in public life has perhaps never been so pronounced.
Bluestocking Week is named for the first generations of university women of the 19th century who grabbed the term, and even as it was used by their opponents as a derogatory dismissal of their achievements and proudly wore it as a badge of serious scholarship. The term originates from the latter part of the 18th century as women started organising literary societies in their homes and began campaigning for women’s access to university and more generally for women’s rights to equality in work, under the law and access into the parliaments. Many of the middle and upper class leaders of the suffragist and suffragette movements started out in or were influenced by these literary societies, as did some of the male supporters of women’s rights. Indeed the term blue stocking is often attributed to a male member of the circle who arrived at meetings in his everyday worsted wool blue stockings rather than white silk ones usually worn by men when meeting with men. This was taken up as distinguishing the women’s initiative.*
See and the 2012 edition of Agenda, the NTEU’s annual women’s magazine (link) for details of the origins and histories of the Bluestockings.
We focused last year upon celebrating the success of women in higher education drawing upon the history of women’s sometimes slow, but determined struggle for participation in universities as students and staff, as well as upon challenging gendered discrimination in the construction and transmission of knowledge. Read more...