18th Century tradition continues with Bluestocking Week on campus
Published on 14 August, 2012
An 18th Century tradition was revived and celebrated recently when CQUniversity Rockhampton hosted a Bluestocking Week event.
The Rockhampton event was held in conjunction with a national initiative championed by the National Tertiary Education Union and the National Union of Students.
Guest speaker Prof Sonj Hall (centre) with Academic Registrar Barbara Lawrence and Assoc Prof Leonie Short
'Bluestockings' was originally a disparaging term aimed at scholarly women and was later applied to female university students. Nowadays, it's a lightning rod for campaigns and celebrations about women's participation in higher education.
The guest speaker for the Rockhampton event was Professor Sonj Hall, Director of the Health Collaborative Research Network based at CQUniversity.
Professor Hall said her own experience of academia was "the joy of debate, critical thought and independent thinking". She encouraged audience members to "know your passion and be brave about achieving it".
"Plan for and focus on what you want to achieve - remember you can't lead others if you can't lead yourself.
"Create relationships, networks and collaborations - go out and meet people. Your career won't flourish if you are hidden away in your office!"
Professor Hall also suggested 'thinking outside the box' when seeking out a mentor, who should preferably come from a different discipline area.
The guest speaker concluded by urging women not to give up the struggle "when their Indigenous Australian sisters are still struggling to access and participate in higher education and when there such a discrepancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and education outcomes in this country".
"I ask that as you move in your academic careers you help grow and nurture all of your sisters," she concluded.
Earlier in the proceedings, Associate Professor Leonie Short pointed out that "much has changed for women in higher education since 1882 when the first Australian women were allowed to enroll at the University of Melbourne".
"In the mid and late 18th century, the Bluestockings were a group of female writers, translators, dramatists, painters and critics who pioneered women's intellectualism," Assoc Prof Short said.
"Bluestocking Week is an opportunity to recognise these pioneering women, like Mary Wollstonecraft, who came before us, to celebrate women's scholarship and participation in higher education, and to continue to campaign around issues to promote fully equality."