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How far did the educational opportunities for women improve during the 19th Century?

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Introduction

How far did the educational opportunities for women improve During the 19th Century? During the 19th century there were signs in several sectors that women were making improvements in becoming equals in society. The married women's property act for example gave them some independence as they finally had the right to own some of their money and working opportunities were becoming more acceptable for women. Teaching and clerical work were amongst the jobs that became open to women. Although these advances were though made, there were hidden catches almost, with women having to resign from their jobs when they married being just one of them. I am going to look at how far the education gave opportunities to women during the 19th century and whether they were as good as it appeared on the surface. One of the first campaigners for Women's education was Mary Wollstonecraft, she considered women to be in a vicious circle, which seemed to centre around women not being educated, not being taught to develop their minds, appearing less intelligent and the result, that men claimed that women were un-intelligent and therefore not worth educating. She died in 1797 and therefore did not live long into any reforms for women's education but she be happy with the developments made? ...read more.

Middle

They offered half day learning from 1833 but even this education was basic and distinguished between boys and girls. There were also signs of advance in university life. Schools such as North London Collegiate School encouraged girls to enter full time higher education and by 1900 we could see vast increase in the number of women at university. For example at Manchester there were 861 males and 123 females and at Reading 106 males and 73 females, a much closer gap than seen previously by university establishments. Women however were still restricted here too, a prime example was Agneta Ramsey who gained the highest mark in the university in classics, yet would not be awarded a degree by Cambridge University. This showed that change was not as rapid in some areas; in fact Cambridge did not give women degrees until 1947, proving that there was a long way to go for women pressing for their educational opportunities. Something which was to change this was the education act of 1870. This changed the face of education by offering everybody the right to an education. This was a massive step forward, crucial in progressing for women's rights in getting jobs etc . ...read more.

Conclusion

Women definitely seemed to get a much poorer deal than first thought through the education act. Looking at all the evidence I believe that educational opportunities for women in the 19th century did make some advances but I feel that there is a significant way to go to bring educational standards for women equal to that of men's academic education. Looking at Mary Wollstonecraft I believe that as with most of the advances I have found in education, on the surface she would be happy at the progression but under the surface she would have been deeply unhappy, mainly because of the heavily gendered education, even by 1900. This was something Mary wanted to get rid of, by giving women academic education and breaking the vicious circle she believed existed. In the future years the government would definitely need to revise the education act by implementing more equal education rights for women, we know though that this took a while to achieve as at Cambridge degrees were not awarded to women until 1947, only 56 years ago. I believe that the following quote by Dorothea Beale sums up the education advances, "I can remember only one really clever and competent woman teacher" Although some advances were made, there was along way to go and many more women to reach and educate. . Liz Power 15.11.03 CD - History - 1 - ...read more.

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