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For Women and Children: A Tribute to Geraldine McDonald

Available Suffrage Day - 19 September

Geraldine McDonald (1926–2018) was a pioneer of feminist research and political advocacy in early childhood, and more broadly across the education and public service sectors. She began this work in the mid-1960s, a time when there were no courses on women’s studies and there was little research in education or other social sciences that included women’s experiences and perspectives.  Her outspokenness on ”women’s issues” was often met with resistance. Her career with NZCER included establishing its Early Childhood Unit and serving as Deputy Director of the organisation.

The contributors to this festschrift are mainly women born during or shortly after the Second World War. In different ways, all have been deeply influenced by Geraldine. Some worked with her as colleagues, in research or writing projects, on committees, in women’s or educational networks, or as members of her family. Others did not know her personally but were influenced by her writing. The book engages with the main themes in her body of work with the aim of protecting it from becoming fragmented, lost, or forgotten. It showcases the originality of Geraldine’s research and illustrates how it informed her own and others’ advocacy work for gender equality. Together, the contributors offer a ”generational legacy” of a cohort of post-war feminists’ engagements with education in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Sue Middleton is Emeritus Professor at the University of Waikato, where she was employed from 1980–2013. She served terms as Assistant Dean (Graduate Studies) and Head of Department. Her research explores how changing educational theories have infused policies, practices, and everyday lives of teachers, students, and managers.

Helen May is Emeritus Professor at the University of Otago. She has published widely on early childhood curriculum, history, and policy. In 2019 Helen worked with the McDonald family to sort and catalogue papers from Geraldine McDonald’s estate.


Noeline Alcorn
Kerry Bethell
Hilary Lapsley
Helen May
Caroline McDonald
Mandy McDonald
Andrew McDonald
Anne Meade
Sue Middleton
Linda Mitchell
Elizabeth Pakai
Sue Stover