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Title: The role of the principal of an Oxford women's college 1879-1925.
Author: Keene, Anne.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3596 3286
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 1998
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The aim of the thesis was to analyse the role of the early principals of the women's colleges in the University of Oxford and to determine whether this role underwent significant change during the period 1879-1925. The thesis has sought to make a contribution to women's history through identifying a group of leaders of women's higher education in Oxford whose unique role has not previously been examined. To implement this objective extensive research was undertaken in the archives of the former women's colleges on principals' papers and college documents as well as in the Bodleian Library on the papers of the Women Principals and of the Association for the Higher Education of Women. Analysis of the backgrounds of the 10 principals studied helped in identifying models which inspired the principals and the colleges, where the strongest influences were found to be those of Cambridge women's colleges, the family and Oxford men's colleges. Principles which guided female heads of college, together with approaches employed by them, were examined ; the most effective styles of leadership were thought to be directive, flexible and androgynous. Problems encountered by women principals were studied, those emerging as most prominent being opposition to the higher education of women, professional tension, the demanding nature of the work, financial constraints and family pressures. The multiplicity of contacts engendered by the burgeoning role of the principals were considered, as women principals found themselves at the core of a number of interlocking bodies within the colleges and the University, a situation which further challenged their constrained resources. The support systems available to the principals were investigated, women's networks and families having been sources of strength, but it was the support of influential men which, through their involvement on college councils and on an individual basis, most accelerated the process of women's acceptance by the UniversityPrincipals led their colleges in distinctive styles which varied according to their professional experience, expectations for the college and personality. There was not a rigid generational model in the role of the Oxford woman principal, some early principals behaving in a more progressive manner than twentieth century colleagues. I conclude that, in many cases, without realising the import of their actions, these women were feminist pioneers for the large subsequent body of female graduates of the University of Oxford
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History