N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: October 22, 1988
Discipline / contribution: women's studies ; education
Citation / biographical information:
Your Honour [or Eminent Chancellor] I present to you Margaret Gillett.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Margaret Gillett began her academic career as a historian. This interest led her into the two areas in which she has made a significant contribution to Canadian education: comparative education and women's studies. It is her work in women's studies that we particularly acknowledge.
Dr. Gillett was born in Australia and received her initial training at the University of Sydney. She began her career by teaching English and history in Australia. She worked for a year as a supply teacher in London and returned to Australia in 1954 as an education officer with the Commonwealth Office of Education. She left Australia to complete a doctorate in Comparative Education at Columbia University in New York. She made her first contact with Canada as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. In 1962, Dr. Gillett left Dalhousie to take up the position of Registrar, Haile Sellassie I University, Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. She was the first person to hold this appointment.
Dr. Gillett returned to Canada in 1964 to the Faculty of Education, University of McGill, in Montreal. In 1982, she was appointed MacDonald Professor of Education, an endowed chair in the Faculty.
Dr. Margaret Gillett's record of academic achievement at McGill is indeed impressive. She was the founding editor of the McGill Journal of Education. She served as department chair in History and Philosophy of Education and later, Social Foundations of Education. She has served on numerous committees at McGill, including the Senate Committee on Women. She has published numerous articles on comparative education and women's studies, including "Western Role Concepts at Ethiopian University" and "Leacock and the Ladies of R.V.C." She has written or edited several books:
“A History of Education: Thought and Practice,” in 1966;
“The Laurel and the Poppy,” a biographical novel based on the life of poet, Francis Thompson in 1968;
“Readings in the History of Education” in 1969;
“Foundation Studies in Education: Justification and New Directions,” 1973;
“Educational Technology: Toward Demystification,” 1973.
She is especially noted for her two studies of women in academia at McGill: “We Walked Very Warily; A History of Women at McGill,” in 1981, and “A Fair Shake. Autobiographical Essays by McGill Women,” in 1984. Dr. McGill writes about the problems women had in breaking Into the old-boy-network of McGill's academia.
Dr. McGill's contribution has not only been in the library. She has been an active participant in many professional organizations. In 1978 she represented the World Council of Comparative Education Societies at Tbiisi, Russia. She delivered the keynote address on "Problems and Issues of Teachers" at the Fourth World Congress of Comparative Education Societies, Tokyo, Japan, in 1980. And she delivered a theme paper at the International Conference on Women's Studies, in 1984, at Groningen, Holland.
In 1981, Dr. Gillett joined the UNESCO Sub-Commission on the Status of Women and she is currently chair of that Commission. Through this Commission she has worked for the betterment of women throughout the world — women in the work force and women in developing countries. She has been instrumental in influencing women in European countries to take on a more active role in politics and she has worked with women employed in the media in Canada.
Dr. Gillett's work has not stopped. She is working on another biographical account: "The letters of Dr. William C. Little to Grace Ritchie, 1889-1894." She has recently taken on a new administrative position as Director of the McGill Centre for Research on Women.
Your honour [or Eminent Chancellor] I ask that you confer on Dr. Margaret Gillett the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Murray Scharf, Dean of Education
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