I thank the many women whose insights and experiences contributed to this issue of Studio Potter. I hope it conveys the strength, the complexity, and the variety of their lives in clay. Many opinions were solicited, and this issue does not much represent them as sample them. One woman with whom I talked felt the need for a manifesto that would call for change in the ceramics community based on parity for women's values. Another wished to emphasize how much change has already occurred and how many men joined in questioning gender stereotypes.
My own goals were: to introduce readers to some theoretical notions developed by feminist critics and artists, and explore how they might affect the ceramic movement; to honor women from the past and present who have not had recognition; to profile a wide assortment of women whose situation, way of working, or work itself might have some connection to gender. I thought it important, for instance, to include supportive spouses in this issue because they contribute greatly to the "gross aesthetic product'' of the clay community. Although homemaking, child-care, studio assistance, emotional support, and a second paycheck are not considered part of the creative process, they do enable it. Such stories are offered as a gesture of gratitude to helpmates in ceramics everywhere.
There are many kinds of work being done by women, and portfolio inclusion was not the result of a search for the "best of'' women's ceramics. Decisions were made on the basis of recommendations (giving women and men a chance to mentor women), the desire for widespread geographical and multicultural participation, and, last but not least, design considerations.
Readers must understand that the demand for parity in opportunities, rewards, and even in the right to determine the value system that governs communications, working styles, and aesthetics is not the same as a demand to dominate. It is, instead, a chance for all of us – men and women – to question our beliefs and actions and include a broader range of people and ideas in building toward common goals.