OU Women: Undoing Educational Obstacles
This book is about women stirred up over higher education. It's about beating the system and beating the odds...It's about people taking charge of their lives and writing new futures regardless of the past. - From the Author's Preface. OU Women concerns fourteen women who in their twenties, thirties or forties felt bored, unrewarded or trapped, in work or in the home - or just frustrated by their lack of education. It is about the way in which the Open University helped these women to turn their lives around with a bachelor's degree. Through a series of interviews these Open University Women here recount their lives, from the time they braved their first foundation course, through the attainment of their degrees, and to the changes this learning has made to their situations.Misha Hebel is no longer a receptionist, but a management consultant; Teresa Davis has changed career from a piano teacher to a cytogeneticist; and Shirleen Stibbe is no more a housewife, but, and as her first ever job, is now an actuary. Building on these first-hand accounts, Patricia Lunneborg develops an account of the obstacles that turn women away from education. These include the reduced opportunities that can result from a person's class and sex, the detrimental effects of early streaming on a pupil's confidence, and male bias in the learning environment. Such factors come into play at school, if not before; yet this is just the beginning.Quite likely handicapped by some or all of the above, in later life women find themselves aligned against further education not only by society's traditional conception of them - by what John Stuart Mill termed 'the tyranny of custom' - but also, if they are mothers, by the basic lack of fit between the demands of parenting and conventional university life. The Open University was brought into being in 1969 by Jennie Lee, Harold Wilson's Minister for the Arts, and now boasts over 140, 000 graduates. There are no entry qualifications, and as distance learning there is no burden of attendance. The OU is everyone's second chance, but especially women's second chance. With over half of its students female, the OU has a higher proportion of women to men than any other university.Along with its companion volume OU Men , OU Women will interest the ever increasing number of people involved in or considering an OU course, or any other distance learning programme. It will also be of value to those involved in the teaching and psychology of distance learning, and to anyone concerned with modern British society; with a foreword by the Rt Hon Betty Boothroyd.