Older women and doctorates? Why (why NOT)?

By La Trobe University

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A little bit of context

Celebrating and understanding the achievements of women and their contributions to Australian research are an incomparable means of inspiring women and girls of all ages to pursue their own passions. Women have been left out of social history accounts for way too long. Many women have quietly been making big contributions to our society, but haven't had that much recognition for some pretty amazing work.
It was rare for women to get their doctorates, even up to the 1970's in Australia.
Women who had not had the opportunity earlier in their lives have been quietly returning to study to get doctorates.
It's time to celebrate some of these women and tell their stories. That's going to help paint a more complete account of Australian social history.

But there’s a problem

Many of these women fly under the radar and not much ever gets into the press about the remarkable achievements of women. We need to get this information out there and keep encouraging life-long, life-wide learning. We need to make sure all our daughters, sisters and mum's know that aiming for the top is quite achievable.

Take for example Susan Hawthorne, author, poet and publisher (Spinifex Press). Susan completed her PhD entitled 'Wild Politics: Feminism, Globalisation and Bio/diversity' post 50. She says:

My PhD has opened some doors, although it has not been my main area of employment which is a mix of running a publishing house and working as a writer of poetry and fiction. I am currently working on a new book which was launched from Wild Politics, but now taking off in different directions. My recent book Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing (2014) could not have been written without the research and thinking I undertook for my PhD. It has been translated into Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Czech languages. In addition to publishing, I am currently Adjunct Professor, College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University, Townsville.

Here’s what we’re doing about it

I'm keeping this just in Australia, and I need about 15 of these amazing stories to make into a book to keep the cost manageable.

Telling these stories celebrates these particular women and hopefully will encourage other's to give it their best shot.

Doing a doctorate means that you are creating new knowledge, and there are great examples of women who do that in all fields. Older women, with all that life experience (and lots of professional experience as well) have so much to offer, and its hard to have too much new knowedge around!

You can join us

Getting around to visit these amazing women to interview them takes a few travel dollars.

I need $5000 to help pay for travel expenses so I can go out and interview these fabulous women wherever they are in Australia. And I need to bit to pay for a transcriber who can convert the audio into text. From there I use my time to shape the text into book chapters.

It would be a great help if you can spare a little and donate to this research. Every little bit will help. Your help might just make this research and publication possible, and that might just be the spark someone needs!

And here’s some amazing perks for supporting us that you can’t live without

$30 will get you a PDF copy of one of the chapters (you get to choose which one!)

For donations of $150 you will receive a signed copy of the book.

Giving over $250 will get you an invitation to the book launch, along with the signed copy of the book.

Contributors of $350 or over will be acknowledged in the publication, plus the above.

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Team Members

Margaret Robertson