Explain why women failed to gain the vote between 1900 and 1914.

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Nick Graham 11PPR        History Coursework

The Suffragettes- Coursework

Explain why women failed to gain the vote between 1900 and 1914

During the period of 1900 – 1914, there were various reasons as to why women failed to gain the vote. Traditionally, women were seen as second to men and their position in society was not high. They were seen on a par with criminals and children in terms of legal rights. When a woman married, if she owned any land or property it went directly to her husband, which was also the case if she inherited property or land. If she became a mother she had no legal rights over her children, as they were legally her husbands. If a woman decided to leave and divorce her husband, she lost all her possessions as well as her children. They were intellectual slaves who had no involvement in manual labour and were considered as the inferior sex, vulnerable and emotionally weak in comparison to males during this period.

During and towards the end of the nineteenth century, a lot more improvements were made to the status of the working woman. This was due to the fact that the British economy was at a high point and this was why more opportunities arose for women in teaching, shop work, and some clerical/office work. There was a lot more teaching vacancies due to the fact that the government in 1870 passed an education act, which doubled the amount of elementary schools in Britain. Many younger women who would have become governesses until married now turned their ways to teaching. This was also down to the fact that being a governess was a lot more stressful than being a schoolteacher. However, despite the improvements women’s options were still limited. The rule still stood if women married they had to resign and let her husband take care of her. There was a lot more office work and shop work for women due to technology developing, shop owners and office managers needing more help. In shops the pay was poor and the hours were long, but still the men held onto all the skilled and responsible posts. As women were unable to vote, they were also unable to influence or push for other changes in employment, which was seen as a good thing for the male population as they were not under threat by women.

Near the end of the nineteenth century education became a high priority especially for women who were usually taught at home or by governesses. Unlike boys, who were taught at schools. A key figure in the campaign to give women equal rights when it came to education was Emily Davies. She led campaigns to reform the education of girls. Due to these campaigns, the Taunton Commission paid more attention to schooling, they found that there were only 12 schools throughout Britain for girls and these were of a poor quality. In 1870 the government made it compulsory for local areas to have enough schools for children up to the age of 10 in their area. This changed in the 1890’s to the age of 11 or 12.

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Middle class women wanted to be able to have the best occupations in law and medicine. This was only achievable by attending secondary and higher education. Therefore, a series of colleges were opened for woman, due to the fact that many male universities would not give women degrees or allow them to be students. Around this period, women were gradually given more rights within their marriages and ownership of their possessions. For instance, women could now leave their husbands but could not divorce them.

In 1880, the “Education Act” was finally passed which stated school was now compulsory for ...

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