Women’s Press History: A Brief Reflection

Jun 01, 2022

By CS Team

Women’s Press, formerly known as Canadian Women’s Educational Press, was founded in 1972. The press started as a collective of women interested in academic scholarship who wanted progressive and productive change within the industry while taking a non-heterosexist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist approach. To commemorate the imprint’s 50th anniversary, we’re going to dive a little deeper into the history of Women’s Press, its founders, and its legacy.

The founding members of what we have come to know as Women’s Press today are: Janice Acton, Dawn Aspinall, Deirdre Bekerman, Catherine Carroll, Vita Churchill, Carleen Dearness, Frumie Diamond, Rosemary Donegan, Sandra Foster, Julie Greco, Anna Ingre, Kathryn Jackson, Lynn Lang, Elizabeth Martin, Catherine Macleod, Ruth McEwan, Laurell Ritchie, Judy Skinner, and Bonnie Ward.

The goal of the founders was to create a space within the publishing industry where women could support and learn from one another. Their meetings took a democratic approach, ensuring that members were present and had a chance to have their voices heard. Decisions were made collectively, with an aim to get input from every member; they often critiqued their own structure and consistently thought of ways to incorporate meaningful representation. If you’re curious about how these discussions went, former meeting notes, alongside older promotional materials (as shown below), can be found in Canadian Women's Movement Archives (CWMA) collection in association with the University of Ottawa.

After the establishment of the press, these women went on to accomplish wonderful things accrediting to feminist scholarship. Some took on work as professors and department heads of universities such as York University and the University of Toronto. Some even went on to start other feminist presses, focusing on trade rather than academic publishing.

The founding members of Women’s Press are an inspiration to anyone that has ever a felt a lack of belonging within their community, by creating the space that they need to thrive. These women set the groundwork for creating an exceptional press that is now an imprint to Canadian Scholars Press. Operating together, they continue to publish ground-breaking feminist scholarship, with new and forthcoming publications such as, TransNarratives Gendered Bodies and Public Scrutiny, and Gender, Sex, and Tech!.

Canadian Scholars Press is proud to recognize the rich history of Women’s Press, and we’re excited for what’s to come.

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