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The Gender of Professionalism and Occupational Closure: the management of tenure-related disputes by the 'Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario' 1918-1949

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This article examines how the gender of professionalism is central to an understanding of occupational closure. Using the social history of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) as an example, the author shows how the executive allegiance to the gender of professionalism incited a moral concern with rural women teachers employed in the elementary public school system in the early twentieth century, and how this concern interfered with the delivery of protective services to country teachers involved in contractual disputes. The model of professionalism was based on a composite portrait of the older masculinised European ideal of professional rationality, and distilled through a feminine ideal of conduct intelligible to white middle- and upper-class women in early twentieth-century Canada. The professional ideal was used as a measure of occupational success and applied as a criterion for granting or withholding protective services. As a result, rural women falling short of the ideal were denied protective services when embroiled in tenure-related disputes and, ultimately, they were excommunicated from the profession.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Western Ontario, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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