Madame Le Professeur: Women Educators in the Third Republic
A collective biography of France's first generation of female secondary schoolteachers, this book examines the conflict between their public and private lives and places their new professional standing within the political culture of the Third Republic. Jo Burr Margadant charts the responses of women who attended the normal school at Svres during the 1880s to their roles as teachers and subordinates in the public school system, their plight as outsiders in the social community, and their gains toward educational reforms. These women emerge as pioneers struggling to forge careers in an elite profession, which was separate from and inferior to its male equivalent and also controlled by men.
Margadant explains that the first women teachers in girls' collges and lyces were expected to project an intellectually assertive presence in the classroom while maintaining a maternal solicitude toward students and a modest, self-effacing style with superiors. Many who succeeded progressed to administrative jobs and, in some cases, filled official posts left vacant by men during the First World War. The author shows how these achievements led to the transformation of girls' secondary schools into replicas of those for boys and to equal treatment for women and men in the teaching profession.