The UK’s only research centre focussed on histories of women’s education.

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About us

The University of Winchester Centre for the History of Women's Education (CHWE) is the UK’s only research centre with a direct focus on histories of women’s education. Formed in 2002, CHWE supports students, researchers, postgraduates and PhD candidates as well as working with local and international organisations and institutions.

Our membership includes academics, students, practitioners, professionals and independent researchers from the UK and Continental Europe, the USA and South America, and we have close links with historians of education and women’s historians from the UK and across the world.


To foster an active research climate on the history of women’s formal and informal education that:

  • examines the enactment and implications of colonialism, imperialism, internationalism, religion and class within transnational perspectives on gender;
  • interrogates policy and practice related to women and girls in the past to inform research into gender and education today;
  • disseminates research findings to a range of audiences and engages with professional bodies, community groups and schools.

Explore our news and events

Meet the team

Associate and Corresponding Members

  • Professor Tim Allender (University of Sydney)
  • Dr Rolando De La Guardia Wald (Latin America Centre, University of Oxford)
  • Catherine Holloway (PhD Candidate)
  • Dr Andrea Jacobs (Founding Member and Independent Researcher)
  • Dr Camilla Leach (Founding Member and Honorary Research Fellow)
  • Dr Lis Lewis (Secondary Teacher and Independent Researcher)
  • Dr Helen Loader (Independent Researcher and Administrator)
  • Dr Zoe Milsom (Independent Researcher)
  • Lucy Anne Revis (Primary Teacher and EdD candidate)
  • Professor Nancy G. Rosoff (Honorary Research Fellow and International Member)
  • Dr Meritxell Simon-Martin (International Member)
  • Ellie Simpson (PhD Candidate)
  • Professor Kaye Whitehead (Visiting Professor, University of Sydney)
  • Dr Alison Wilcox (Independent Researcher and Sixth-Form Teacher)

Research and Impact

As an area of research and teaching, the history of women's education has developed a broad portfolio of research and generates cross-disciplinary projects which challenge both boundaries of knowledge and ways of seeing. The Centre takes a broad cultural definition of education, one which transcends schooling to encompass learning and teaching (formal and informal) at any phase of the life-cycle, in any setting or historical period, including the recent past.

Through their research, publications, events, public engagement and local and international collaborative projects, the Centre for the History of Women’s Education aims to provide a sound evidence base for policy and practice in respect of education for women and girls.

For details of current and recent research projects, see below.

Current and recent research in CHWE

Enquiring Women: Education, Winchester and the Wider World

Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful, Professor Joyce Goodman and Prof. Stephanie Spencer 

This research seeks to raise cultural awareness of the spatial and temporal networks of women promoting and participating in education who linked Winchester to national and international spaces and networks. As a community of learners that welcomes members of the public, students and academic participants, the Centre for History of Women’s Education seeks to work closely with the Friends and Trustees of the Sybil Campbell Collection (housed in the University Library) and the British Federation of Women Graduates, and contributes to a range of other women’s organisations, including Graduate Women International.

Members engage with women’s organisations through committee memberships and through seminars and other forms of public events to foster understanding of and engagement with diverse histories of women’s education. Most recently, in July 2019, Prof. Goodman was invited to be part of a panel of historians at the GWI centenary conference in Geneva as part of the GWI initiative to think forward asthe organisation moves beyond its centenary. In August 2019 she delivered an invited keynote address at Tsuda University, Tokyo, about developments in transnational histories. This was a follow-up visit after her two very successful keynotes in Japan in 2016 when she spoke on different aspects of gender and transnational history.

Research output

Anderson-Faithful, Sue. "Aspects of Agency: Change and Constraint in the Activism of Mary Sumner, Founder of the Anglican Mothers’ Union." Women's History Review (2017): 1-18.

Goodman, Joyce. "International Women's Organisations, Peace and Peacebuilding." In The Palgrave Handbook of Global Approaches to Peace, edited by Aigul Kulnazarova and Vesselin Popovski, 441-59. London: Palgrave, 2019.

Goodman, Joyce. ""Shaping the Mentality of Races and Especially of Young People”: The League of Nations and the Educational Cinematography Congress, 1934."In League of Nations: Histories, Legacies and Impact, edited by Joy Damousi and Patricia O'Brien, 197-213. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2018.

Spencer, Stephanie. "Cosmopolitan Sociability in the British and International Federations of University Women, 1945–1960." Women's History Review (2016): 1-17.

Religion, Education and Philanthropy

Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful and Professor Joyce Goodman

The Centre promotes research that engages with the significance of religion in the educational lives of girls and women and connects with Winchester with the wider world. Religious faith and diverse belief systems provide avenues of enquiry both as a motivator of educational activism and a mediator of curricula and gendered educational opportunity. Members of the centre examine how belief systems are also bound up with the negotiation of extra institutional and alternative educational spaces, and informal education realised through the philanthropic activism of individuals or organised groups.

Projects at the Centre around these themes include investigations into the idealist philosophy and educational activism of the novelist and social reformer, Mrs Humphry Ward, and the educational mission of Mary Sumner, founder of the Mothers Union. Projects also focus on citizenship education of working-class young women via the Girls’ Friendly Society, and the Anglican Church Congress as a popular educational space, as well as how the Bahai faith and Buddhism intersect with women’s educational activism.

Current areas of research

  • Citizenship education of working-class young women via the Girls’ Friendly Society
  • Anglican Church Congress as a popular educational space and the intersections of the Bahai faith and of Buddhism with women’s educational activism

Research output

Anderson-Faithful, Sue and Catherine Holloway. "‘We Do Not Wish to Be Sofa Cushions, or Even Props to Men, but We Wish to Work by Their Side’: Celebrating Women as Popular Educators at the Anglican Church Congresses 1881–1913." History of Education 48, no. 2 (2019): 180-96.

Anderson-Faithful, Sue. Mary Sumner, Mission, Education and Motherhood: Thinking a Life with Bourdieu.  (Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2018).

Goodman, Joyce. "Becoming, Being and Kaleidoscopic Configurations: Laura Dreyfus-Barney, the Bahá'í Faith and Educative Work for Peace - Werden, Sein Und Kaleidoskopische Einstellungen: Laura Dreyfus-Barney, Das Bahaitum Und Die Erzieherische Arbeit Zum Frieden." IJHE Bildungsgeschichte/International Journal for the Historiography of Education, 8, no. 1 (2018): 123-34.

Goodman, Joyce. "Suzanne Karpelès (1890-1969): Thinking with the Width and Thickness of Time. Suzanne Karpelès (1890-1969) Denken Mit Der Breite Und Tiefe Der Zeit." IJHE Bildungsgeschichte/International Journal for the Historiography of Education, 8, no. 2 (2018): 231-44.

Loader, Helen. Mrs Humphry Ward and Greenian Philosophy: Religion, Society and Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Materialities, Environment and Women’s Higher Education

Prof. Stephanie Spencer and CHWE members

In 1929 the British Federation of University Women (BFUW) opened Crosby Hall for international and national university women to undertake short courses of study or work in London. Shortly after the Hall was opened, the management committee decided to create a library where the women could relax after their day with a book. A number of well-known figures contributed books ranging from middlebrow fiction to rare books not even in the British Library. The Hall has long since been sold and the BFUW were renamed the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) in 1992. The book collection (Sybil Campbell Library) is now one of the Special Collections of the University of Winchester, overseen by trustees of the BFWG and the Centre for the History of Women’s Education.

Our project focusses on exploring and understanding the role of Crosby Hall and the BFWG in the lives of graduate women who were not necessarily working in universities. This is framed by theories of place and space in order to understand the meaning of materiality and environment for graduate women. In 1957 Judith Hubback’s Wives who Went to College explored the problems encountered by university women who found it difficult to reconcile domesticity with ‘graduateness’.

Research output

The project includes archival research and oral history interviews and material from the project has been presented at the Women’s History Network conference September 2016 and at the Remembering Eleanor Rathbone day, held at the University Women’s Club in May 2016.

Goodman, Joyce and Spencer S. Exploring the Collection: Alys Russell and M.Carey Thomas." Sybil Campbell Collection, Newsletter 24, no. Summer (2017): 4

Spencer, Stephanie. "Just a Book in a Library? The Sybil Campbell Library Collection Fostering International Friendship Amongst Graduate Women." History of Education 42, no. 2 (2013): 257-74.

Transnational Femininities and Women’s Education

Prof. Stephanie Spencer and Nancy Rosoff

This collaborative research focussed on teenage girls' fiction published in the United States and United Kingdom, between 1910 and 1965. These rich sources provided an opportunity to examine the cultural constructions of female identity in popular literature. The project investigated the ideologies of transnational femininity found in teenage fictions and the representations of middle-class girlhood across this time period. The focus was on stories set in schools or colleges and career novels, exploring the complex question of how essential and constructed aspects of girlhood intertwine in these genres, which carried immense appeal to their readers and functioned as an important means of informal education. Find out more.

Research output

Rosoff, Nancy G., and Stephanie Spencer. British and American School Stories, 1910-1960: Fiction, Femininity, and Friendship. Springer, 2019.

The international mind in the education of women and girls 1890 – 1939

Professor Joyce Goodman; Dr Andrea Jacobs (Research Fellow); Dr Fiona Kisby (former Research Fellow) and Dr Helen Loader (Independent Researcher in History of Education)

 This project examined the historical significance of 'the international mind' in education for the education of women and girls in England. The term 'the international mind' in education was used frequently in the period between 1918 and 1939 and was particularly associated with ideas about international cooperation and the internationalisation of education. Thought to help the development of world peace, it was also associated with views of citizenship and national identity during the inter-war period and resonated with aspects of imperialism.

Research output

Goodman, Joyce. "The Buddhist Institute at Phnom Penh,  the International Council of Women and the Rome International Institute for Educational Cinematography: Intersections of Internationalism and Imperialism, 1931-34." History of Education 47, no. 3 (2018): 415-31.

Goodman, Joyce. "Transnational Perspectives and International Networks of Women's Education: Britain, United States, and Japan." Japanese Network for Women's History 4 (2017).

Goodman, Joyce. "Research Trends in British History of Education: Gender, Transnationalism and Agency." Journal of Children’s Studies of Nishikyushu University 8 (2017): 93-122.

Goodman, Joyce. "Internationalism, Empire and Peace in the Women Teacher, 1920-1939." Chap. 22 In Edinburgh Companion to Women’s Print Media in Interwar Britain (1918-1939), edited by Catherine Clay, Maria DiCenzo, Barbara Green and Fiona Hackney, 348-61. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017.

Goodman, Joyce, Andrea Jacobs, Fiona Kisby, and Helen Loader. "Travelling careers: overseas migration patterns in the professional lives of women attending Girton and Newnham before 1939." History of education 40, no. 2 (2011): 179-196.

Women in the 1950s: Girls’ Education and Career Development

This two-year seminar series was hosted by the University of Winchester (Prof. Stephanie Spencer), University of Manchester (Dr Penny Tinkler) and the University of Sussex (Dr Claire Langhamer). It also included contributions from the V&A Museum in London.

The aim of the series was to shed light on a neglected generation of girls and women. It includes four one-day seminars that use popular stereotypes from the fifties - the teenage girl, the suburban housewife, the glamorous young woman and the woman in love as starting points for exploring the diversity and complexity of the lives and experiences of girls and women in this period. The series also included two one-day workshops which explored neglected sources for researching women and gender in the 1950s, namely material culture, sound and photography.

Research output

This collaborative project included contributions from the V&A Museum in London

Penny Tinkler, Stephanie Spencer & Claire Langhamer (Eds). Women in Fifties Britain: A New Look (London: Routledge, 2018).

Edwards, S. (2018) Youth Movements, Citizenship and the English Countryside: Creating Good Citizens, 1930 - 1960 (Palgrave Macmillan). Dr Sian Edwards is Lecturer in Modern British History in the Department of History; PhD supervised by Professor Claire Langhamer.

Educational Histories/Histories of Education

Professor Joyce Goodman and Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful

Professor Joyce Goodman is at the forefront of methodological, philosophical research in histories of women’s education. In August 2019, she was invited to deliver a keynote lecture on transnational histories of women’s education. Professor Goodman has also delivered a paper as the international member of symposium of Japanese historians of education focussed on Japan-British-American transnational exchanges at the Gender and Transnational Perspectives in the History of Education: Theoretical Frameworks and Research Methods, WERA Conference, August 2019, Tokyo.

Professor Goodman and Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful have recently edited a special issue of Women’s History Review which aims to illustrate some of the methodological developments and manifold tracks that characterise the history of girls’ and women’s education.

They are also actively engaged in how undergraduates and postgraduates can contribute to policy in their working lives as teachers and lecturers. Examples include:

Lucy Anne Barrett Revis, a previous graduate student and an active member of CHWE. Now a senior primary teacher and member of Hampshire’s Primary History Steering Group, she has published her workshop, led with Sarah Bartlett, on policies regarding how to approach teaching the lives of significant individuals to primary school children in Key Stage 1.

Dr Meritxell Simon-Martin, who completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Stephanie Spencer and Professor Joyce Goodman. Her career has taken her across the Uk and France, and most recently she has been working in South America. In 2018, Simon-Martin presented some elements of her article on Barbara Bodichon’s feminist pamphlet Women and Work (1857) as part of the regular CHWE seminar series. You can watch the presentation here and her work can be accessed here.

Research output

Albisetti, James, Goodman, Joyce, and Rogers, Rebecca (eds) (2019). Girls’ Secondary Education in the Western World: From the 18th to the 20th Century (Greek translation by Gutenberg), with a preface by Katerina Dalakoura.

Goodman, Joyce, and Sue Anderson-Faithful,2019. "Turning and Twisting Histories of Women’s Education: Matters of Strategy." Women's History Review (2019), iFirst

Bartlett, Lucy, summer 2019. Primary History Matters, HIAS School Improvement, Hampshire Service., 

Goodman, Joyce, 2019. "Temporalities and the Transnational: Yoshi Kasuya’s Consideration of Secondary Education for Girls in Japan (1933)." In The Transnational in the History of Education: Concepts and Perspectives, edited by Eckhardt Fuchs and Eugenia Roldán Vera, 201-29. Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Goodman, Joyce, 2019. "Willystine Goodsell (1870-1962) and John Dewey (1859-1952): History, Philosophy, and Women’s Education." History of Education.

Simon-Martin, Meritxell  2019. “Des/unions de gènere i raça en la història del moviment sufragista als Estats Units”, in Dueñas, Oriol, Martín i Berbois, Josep Lluís and Tavera, Susanna (eds) Sufragisme i sufragistes: reivindicant la ciutadania política de les dones (Barcelona : Memorial Democràtic) (2019) pp 160-179.