Gendered Environments in Canada: An Analysis of Women and Environments Magazine, from 1976 to 1997
“Gendered Environments in Canada: An Analysis of Women and Environments Magazine from 1976 to 1997” explores feminist interpretations of environments in the Toronto-based periodical, Women and Environments (W&E). Founded by scholars, W&E began as a small newsletter. Its purpose was to keep in touch an international cohort of people interested in the intersections between women and environments at the 1976 U.N. Habitat I Conference in Vancouver. Shortly thereafter, W&E matured into a magazine of professional quality, but maintained its alternative edge. Its mandate was to give equal coverage to the built, urban, rural, and natural environments, represent women from across Canada, the United States, and shed light on women and environments around the world. In 1998, W&E announced its name change to Women and Environments International. Today, the magazine is one of Canada’s oldest feminist magazines still in production. This thesis examines the years of W&E’s publication since its inception up to and including 1997. It asks: How successful was W&E in offering comprehensive coverage of environmental concerns from 1976 to 1997 and how much was W&E’s narrative a Canadian story? Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, this project demonstrates that W&E offered attention to several environment types for an international readership. Yet, for the first few years the magazine limited its feminist critique to urban planning, and later to psychological impacts of built social spaces in central Canada. It was only later that it expanded its scope to rural areas, and eventually to natural environments across Canada, and around the world. Despite expanding its scope to global topics, for the most part, W&E’s writers and readers were Canadian, and specifically represented a Toronto perspective. As such, the magazine was not necessarily a national magazine, but it was nonetheless a Canadian magazine. Such variations in topics and scope were related to larger societal issues, written submissions, reader requests, and changes to editorial management. The total of twenty-one years under review could be broken into three blocks (1976 to 1984, 1984 to 1987 and 1987 to 1997), each block was marked by particular editorial influence, and subsequently their editorial preferences for environmental topics. Regardless of its fluctuation in focus, however, Women and Environments upheld its mandate to provide a feminist analysis of environments for English-speaking women. In the end, the purpose of the project was to showcase a collection of Canadian women who shared an ongoing concern for a variety of environments, and by doing so, participated in conversations about feminism and the environment in late twentieth century Canada.
women, environment, Canada, magazine, periodical, W&E, ecofeminism, built, natural, social, environmental psychology
Master of Arts (M.A.)