Exceptional pioneers : women in trades, tertiary education, and collaborative research : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education (Adult Education) at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis explores women's experience in trades education in Aotearoa/New Zealand polytechnics in the late 1990s. It highlights issues, which are still affecting women in spite of discourses of equal opportunity. While looking at reasons for attrition, it also celebrates the courage and determination of women pioneers in trades and tertiary education. Three case studies chosen from 23 research participants emphasise the issues for women in the trades and are used to develop themes for analysis. Interviews were also carried out with staff working in trades education. Current literature and three key advisors assisted in creating a wider perspective of the issues. The two researchers are central to the research process. A collaborative and feminist methodology was used to produce the thesis in a safe, productive and trusting environment, both for the researchers and the participants. The experience of women in the trades provides a link to compare women's experience in trades education to the experience of women educators in male-dominated educational organisations. The process of collaboration is explored for its useful to this post-graduate research. The incorporation of trades culture into tertiary education culture produced some conflicts in philosophies of education, highlighting inconsistencies in equitable practice. Women's experiences in the trades do not appear to have changed significantly in the last 20 years and centre around issues of gender, sexuality, power and culture. Their experiences represent evidence of women in tertiary education generally and the inequities that still exist. The future for women in educational organisations is dependent upon constructive achievement in the re-culturing of tertiary educational organisations to make equitable practice part of the fabric of those organisations.
Women in education, New Zealand, Occupational training for women, Group work in research, Trades education, New Zealand, Women in trades education, Women educators, Women in tertiary education