Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Women Who Led the Way: Eight Pioneers for Equal Rights, David King Boynick devotes a separate chapter to each of eight American revolutionary women who fought for equality and excelled in law, ministry, medicine, industry, engineering, aviation, and business. His book is introductory, exposing the reader to such well-known activists as Susan B. Anthony but including such lesser-known heroines as Alice Hamilton. Women Who Led the Way was reprinted in 1972 and includes a separate bibliography for each woman as well as an index. It does not include photographs.

The text’s chronological arrangement spans the progress from the status of women in the United States in the late 1700’s until the women’s movement of the 1960’s. Before 1920, a woman could not make a contract, witness a legal document, sue, or be sued; her property and children and even her own body were the property of her husband or father. Of the eight women, all but businessperson Dorothy Shaver began or ended their careers in teaching (and Shaver’s conveyance of management skills could be considered teaching). Teaching was one of the few professional careers admitting women; this point is important because the women’s rights movement began in parallel with female teachers’ demands to be paid the same amount as male teachers. By beginning with Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College, Boynick emphasizes the real foothold: the opportunity for women to...

(The entire section is 438 words.)