On the margins? The intellectual community of home scientists at the University of New Zealand, 1911-1961

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


In 1911, a Department of Home Science at the University of New Zealand (1870-1961) opened. It was the first such department in either New Zealand or Australia for the training of women. Offering courses in science, food, and nutrition and practical courses in home and institutional management, the department aimed to provide women with the necessary skills and knowledge for their intended roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers. Deemed a “woman’s domain,” Home Science was not immediately viewed as a credible department. Whereas university administrators may well have considered the department on the academic margins, its physical location on the geographical margins of the university campus offered an opportunity for women to establish their own scholarly traditions and professionalize their work as home scientists. As I will show in this chapter, this feminized environment stimulated the creation of an academic community of women home scientists who modeled a new way of thinking about home and scholarly life that accentuated women’s intellectual work and accomplishments. Outside the gaze of male administrators and in the protected space of Home Science, academic women and their female students could undertake work that was intellectually respectable, secure advanced qualifications, gain professional experience, and develop overseas connections-all critical elements of an academic career and the development of expertise in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen in Higher Education, 1850-1970
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Perspectives
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781134458240
ISBN (Print)9780415858045
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


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