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Stephanie Spencer is Professor of History of Women’s Education. She gained her first degree through the Open University before taking the Gender and Society MA at Royal Holloway. She spent time as a research assistant at the School for Policy Studies in Bristol; she came to the University (then King Alfred's College) on a PhD studentship in 1997.

Professor Spencer teaches gender and history modules on the Education Studies degree and was  Head of Department for Education Studies and Liberal Arts for seven years. She convenes the Centre for the History of Women’s Education, located within the Faculty of Education.
In addition to publications in scholarly journals she has also given talks to local societies including the Mothers’ Union, the Women’s Institute and the Surrey Local History Society. 
Her research interests include both formal and informal aspects of girls’ education and cross-disciplinary boundaries between education, history and cultural studies. Her most recent publication is British and American School Stories, 1910-1960: Fiction, Femininity, and friendship (Basingstoke: Plagrave McMillan, 2019) with Nancy G. Rosoff of Arcadia University, USA.  She co-authored the oral history of the University of Winchester with Andrea Jacobs and Camilla Leach, Alumni Voices, published by Winchester University Press in 2015. Her current research interests are a study of the relationship between local and central branches of the Federations of University Women in the immediate post-war period, and the history of the Direct Grant girls' schools. She co-convened the very successful ESRC seminar series on Women in the 1950s With Dr Penny Tinkler (Manchester) and Professor Claire Langhamer (Sussex).
She regularly presents her research at national and international conferences and is on the editorial board of History of EducationWomen’s History Review and British Journal of Educational Studies. She is currently President of the History of Education Society (UK) having served as its secretary and as a member of the executive board. 

Areas of expertise

  • History of women’s education 
  • Women’s history 1850- 1960
  • Oral history



  • Rosoff, N.G, & Spencer, S. (2019) British a nd American School Stories, 1910-1960: Fiction, Femininity, and Friendship, Palgrave MacMillan, 2019 
  • Spencer, S. Jacobs, A. Leach, C (2015)  Alumni VoicesThe Changing Experience of Higher Education, University of Winchester Press (order your copy of Alumni Voices here)
  • Spencer, S. (2005) Girls and Career Choice in the 1950s, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Chapters in books 

  • Spencer, S. (2010) Knowledge as a necessary food of the mind Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education, in Aiston, S., Meikle, J. & Spence, J. Women Education and Agency 1600-2000, London: Routledge
  • Spencer, S. (2005) ‘Be Yourself’ Girl and the business of growing up in the 1950s, in Cowman, K. & Jackson, L. Women and Work Culture: Britain c.1850-1950, London:Ashgate

Edited Special Editions

  • Leach, C., Jacobs, A.  & Spencer, S. (eds) (2013) History of Education, Special Issue, Rulers, Rebels and Reformers 
  • Spencer, S. (2010) Journal of Education Administration and History, Special Issue, Revisiting Gender a Useful Category of Historical Analysis
  • Allender, T. & Spencer, S. (eds) (2009) History of Education Special Issue, Work, Work, Work
  • Pullin, N. & Spencer, S. (eds) (2004) Women’s History Review Special Issue , Earning and Learning


  • S. Spencer (In Press) Learning the rules: writing and researching school stories in history of education. History of Education Review.
  • Jacobs, A., Leach, C., & Spencer, S. (2013) Rulers, Rebels and Reformers: transnational, religious and gendered perspectives in the history of education, History of Education, Vol. 6
  • Spencer, S. (2013) Just a book in a library? The Sybil Campbell Library Collection fostering international friendship amongst graduate women, History of Education Vol. 42 (2) pp. 257-274
  • Spencer, S. (2013) Boarding School Fictions: schoolgirls' own communities of learning, Women’s History Review Vol. 22 (3) pp. 386-402
  • Jacobs, A., Leach C., & Spencer, S. (2010) Learning Lives and Alumni Voices, Oxford Review of Education Vol. 36 (2) pp. 219-232
  • Spencer, S. (2010) Educational Administration, history and ‘gender as a useful category of historical analysis’, Journal of Education Administration and History Vol. 42 (2) pp. 105-115 
  • Rosoff, N. & Spencer, S. (2010) ‘To be unfailingly courteous’:  teenage fiction and transnational ideologies of femininity, 1910-1960, Women’s History Magazine Vol. 62 pp. 4-10
  • Allender, T. & Spencer, S. (2009) Travelling across national, paradigmatic and archival divides: new work for the historian of education, History of Education Vol. 38 (6) pp. 721-729
  • Spencer, S. (2009) Girls at Risk: Early School Leaving and Early Marriage in the 1950s,Journal of Educational Administration and History  Vol. 41 (2) pp. 179-192
  • Spencer, S. (2004) Reflections on the Site of Struggle: girls' experiences of secondary education in the late 1950s, History of Education Vol. 33 (4) pp. 227-247
  • Spencer, S. (2004) The Lady Visitors at Queen's College: from the back of the classroom to a seat on the council, Journal of Educational Administration and History Vol. 36 (1)
  • Spencer, S. (2003) School Girl to Career Girl: The city as educative space, Paedagogica Historica Vol. 39 (1 & 2) Winner of best new scholar award ISCHE and reprinted in RoutledgeFalmer Reader in History of Education  McCulloch, G. (ed ) (2005) and Women and Education Martin, J., & Goodman, J. (eds) (2011)
  • Spencer, S. (2000) Women's dilemmas in post-war Britain: career stories for adolescent girls in the 1950s, History of Education Vol. 29 (4)
  • Spencer, S. (2000) Advice and Ambition in a Girls' Public Day School: the Case of Sutton High School, 1884-1924, Women’s History Review Vol. 9 (1) 
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