" What About the
Meals and Emergencies? "
BY JUDITH GRANT
In March, 1989, CCLOW New Brunswick began a project designed to assist mature women interested in returning to school. The project took place over six months and was funded by a grant from the Women's Program, Secretary of State, Canada.
There were three phases: a focus group discussion workshop in which women aired their views and questions regarding their educational aspirations; a handbook, entitled Breaking the Barriers: Women and Continuing Education, prepared to address concerns raised in the focus group; and a resource workshop to introduce the women to the handbook, to various educational institutions, and to other mature women students with whom they could network. The project was not meant to be a feminist consciousness-raising process because it was not organized to include critical social analysis nor the impetus to collective action. However, the organizers were successful in adhering to feminist principles such as respect for women and their experiences, validation of their concerns, support, sharing, and empowerment. In this way, the project was a valuable one with much potential for implementation elsewhere.
Educational barriers exist for women. In the province of New Brunswick more women than men have a high school education, according to the 1986 census, but the participation rate of women decreases at the post-secondary level and continues to decrease into the Masters and Doctoral levels. For mature women returning to education, it is evident that part-time is preferable to full-time study. In the area where the CCLOW project took place, the current distribution among all adult students is approximately 51 % female to 49% male. However, women make up 59% of the part-time students and 32% of the full-time. Women are also more likely to delay coming to university (or to other educational institutions) resulting in a broader age concentration, from twenty-five to forty-nine years of age (1).