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If leadership, as Amanda Sinclair argues in this volume, is to be defined in terms of the ability to influence and change the public agenda and improve the life experiences of people both in the present and in the future then philanthropy provides an excellent field in which to explore its application to women. Philanthropy, in its nineteenth-century usage, encompassed both the giving of money and the giving of time in the service of others. While women seldom commanded large fortunes, they were able to give of their time both to the administration of charitable institutions and to the provision of direct services. Philanthropy was a responsibility and an assertion of class and provided an avenue through which women could develop and display their leadership abilities. This chapter studies the ways in which women’s philanthropy was transformed during the twentieth century. It argues that rising levels of education opened professional careers to women who traditionally would have been involved in philanthropy, not least the new profession of social work, which took control of many of the spheres previously the domain of charity. These same forces, however, also increased the number of women in control of substantial fortunes, and these women, influenced by second-wave feminism, were leaders in shaping new forms of philanthropy that seek to move beyond amelioration and to promote social change.

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