|The educational work of women religious: a historiographical survey|
|Whereas the history of lay women teachers working in the public educational system has been intensively studied during the past twenty years, women religious teaching in the private sector have received far less scholarly attention. Of course this group of women has not been completely ignored. Besides a number of historical studies that deal specifically with this subject, many useful data about the educational work of women religious are “hidden” in miscellaneous publications, like for example monographs on schools that were run and staffed by religious orders of women. However, as it stands, there remain many uncertainties regarding the contribution of women religious to education.
In order to improve this situation, it is necessary to get a clearer idea of the research that has been carried out on these women so far. Which aspects have been examined in detail and which topics have hardly been touched upon? What are the major theories on the subject? Which approaches and methodologies have been followed? Can one recognize an evolution in the way researchers have looked at these women?
In the framework of a project to study the feminization of the teaching profession in Belgium, we propose to draw up the balance of the scholarship on the history of the educational work of religious orders of women in Europe, North America and Australia from the 1960s until the present. It is hoped that this overview will both stimulate and guide further research on these “forgotten” women teachers and will contribute to a more balanced picture of the process of the feminization of teaching, a fundamental development in educational history which so far has been almost exclusively studied from the angle of lay women.