Fall/automne 2008
Articles

Feminism in Transition: The Margaret Tomen Membership Case and the Demise of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario

Mario Spagnuolo
Greater Essex County District School Board
Bio
Larry A. Glassford
University of Windsor - Faculty of Education
Bio
Published December 12, 2008
Keywords
  • Women teachers,
  • teacher federations,
  • feminism,
  • human rights
How to Cite
Spagnuolo, Mario, and Larry A. Glassford. 2008. “Feminism in Transition: The Margaret Tomen Membership Case and the Demise of the Federation of Women Teachers’ Associations of Ontario”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 20 (2), 55–72. https://historicalstudiesineducation.ca/hse/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/543.

Abstract

For most of a century, female elementary teachers in Ontario's public schools were represented professionally by the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO), while their male counterparts were members of a separate organization, the Ontario Public School Men Teachers' Federation. Increasingly, a minority of women teachers sought the right to join the male body, which dropped "Men" from its official name in 1982. One of these, Margaret Tomen, launched both a legal and a human rights case to overturn regulations which forbade her from leaving FWTAO. The court proceedings upheld the status quo, but the human rights appeal resulted in victory for Ms. Tomen. By this time, the two rival federations had agreed to unite, and in 1998, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario was founded. The underlying issue of how best to define and achieve equality for women was left unresolved, however - a challenge for subsequent generations.