Sydney University Women’s Course

Sydney University students protesting in support of the BLF in the 1970s. (Image source Kurt Iveson)

In 1973, two Philsophy graduate students from the University of Sydney, Jean Curthoys and Liz Jacka, were proposing to run a course on feminist philosophy and the politics of sexual oppression. A male-dominated professorial board declared the women unfit to teach the course despite initial approval from both the Philsophy department and the Faculty of Arts. The month-long strike that resulted from this decision garnered the attention of the media and the unions, as the city's left flocked to support the fight.

The BLF were in the perfect position to help as the university had several buildings that were in urgent need of completion. A green ban was imposed and negotiations between the university and the BLF initiated. The ban was officially lifted when Cuthroys and Jacka were given approval to run the course the following year and stands as an exemplar of union solidarity and the battle for student democracy in education.

Lee Rhiannon and NSW Greens Party, Green bans: inspirational activism, 2016; Anne Summers (et al.), The little green book: the facts on green bans, 1973; Sydney University Forum on the green bans (speakers Kurt Iveson, Liz Jacka and Frank Stilwell), 2013.

Research provided by Isabella Maher


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