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Feminist Theory in Education

Feminist theory contributes significantly to the social and cultural foundations of education. This entry traces the history of the feminist movement in the United States, explores various meanings of feminist theory, and considers what feminist theory contributes to education.

In the United States the feminist movement is associated with three waves, or periods of time, with the “first wave” feminist movement (1848–1920s) representing women's efforts to get the right to vote, to own property, to divorce and receive alimony and child support, and to manage their own bodies (e.g., sexual reproductive rights). First wave feminism is associated with Seneca Falls, New York, and the sustained agitation for concrete social change of suffragettes such as Lucreta Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth.

The “second ...

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