Women in Britain

Women and work: type of employment, labor for pregnant women in modern days. Reasons for oppression. Laws that helped women. Feminist model of female education. University of Texas compared to Cambridge. Women's health in the Victorian period and today.

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Курсовая работа

Women in Britain


Шатилова А.В


Key words: women and work, labor, yearning for independence,women and politics,women rights and laws, women and education, university for women, women and health,health of pregnant women.

Object: politics, education, work, and health of women.

Purpose: to study the history of women in Victorian Era and in modern days, to understand role of women in modern society, to learn rights and laws of women.

Result: the the history of women in Victorian Era and in modern days has been studied.


In the Victorian Age, women were responsible for domestic duties, and often spent day after day in the home. They were not allowed to be part of the man's world. They were responsible for housework, feeding the family, shopping, cooking, and psychologically and materially sustaining the children, and their husband. "It encompassed a wide range of responsibilities: keeping the household running through the daily round of unfixed but inexorable chores, looking after babies and pre-school children all day and night, being home with the tea ready when they were older, and for the husband after his shift, holding at least acquiescent views on the husband's industrial action.All these things meant subordinating their own needs and identity to those of the other members of the family. The fact that she is sacrificing herself to significant others' reinforces the loss of her own significance" . Here, a woman tells about her feelings of work in the home.

"All women are the same. They get married-high ideals. It's going to be lovely to wash the socks, cook the meals and all that for their husbands, but after a few years the novelty wears off. It just becomes a bit of a drudge. Not so much that you mind doing it, but it's the same thing, day in, day out all the time. You get stale yourself"

Women also had an idea of men's views on the topic.

"They seem to think you're home all day long and it's a life of leisure. They don't realize there's cleaning to be done, and washing, and ironing. I don't like cleaning. I never have, but its got to be done." There was no mention of the satisfaction and virtues of running a home, it was just a drag”.

Margaret Cavendish, the duchess of Newcastle, declared that the sexes were created equal but that men had "usurped a supremacy to themselves" and had tyrannized women using them like "children, fools, or subjects." This process enslaved women and dejected their spirits to the point of stupidity, "whereas in Nature we have as clear an understanding as men"

Everybody knows that work is very important now. Despite the activities of the suffragettes and the support of the Labour Party and some members of the Liberal party, women still had very few rights in 1900 and certainly no political rights. In fact, the activities of the Suffragettes lost women the support of many people, including women, who viewed what they did with alarm.

As humans continue to reproduce and society continues to evolve, the nature of motherhood will experience changes, as well. New technology and discoveries directly effect every aspect of human life including labor and delivery. Motherhood in the Victorian British aristocracy is different than the ideals and practices associated with modern day motherhood, and change will continue as it , like reproduction, is inevitable.

At the start of the twentieth century, women had a very stereotypical role in British society. If married, they stayed at home to look after the children while their husband worked and brought in a weekly wage. If single, they did work which usually involved some form of service such as working as a waitress, cooking etc. Many young women were simply expected to get married and have children. The term "spinster", though not a term of outright abuse, was still seen as having some form of stigma attached to it......that you were not good enough to get a husband etc.

As humans continue to reproduce and society continues to evolve, the nature of motherhood will experience changes, as well. New technology and discoveries directly effect every aspect of human life including labor and delivery. Motherhood in the Victorian British aristocracy is different than the ideals and practices associated with modern day motherhood, and change will continue as it , like reproduction, is inevitable.

While existing social mores change as time passes, an underlying social tendency to oppress women remains. Despite the progress women have made towards equal opportunities in education, the bias in favor of men has not been erased. Women must continue to fight to receive the education they deserve.

As in World War One, women played a vital part in this country's success in World War Two. But, as with World War One, women at the end of World War Two, found that the advances they had made were greatly reduced when the soldiers returned from fighting abroad.

At the end of World War Two, those women who had found alternate employment from the normal for women, lost their jobs. The returning soldiers had to be found jobs and many wanted society to return to normal. Therefore by 1939, many young girls found employment in domestic service - 2 million of them, just as had happened in 1914. Wages were still only 25p a week.

When women found employment in the Civil Service, in teaching and in medicine they had to leave when they got married.

However, between the wars, they had got full voting equality with men when in 1928 a law was passed which stated that any person over the age of 21 could vote - male and female.

The war once again gave women the opportunity to show what they could do.

Beside the more visible black male leaders of the Civil Rights Movement both black and white women played important and key roles in the struggle for racial equality. Women's experiences in the Civil Rights Movement can tell us a lot about the lives of ordinary and extraordinary women and their ability to access and be denied power in a movement for black liberation that was based on the idea of equality. There was an inherent contradiction within the movement for although many women were doing much of the organizing work they still remained largely invisible while the men shone in the spotlight. Women of all different social classes and racial backgrounds participated in many different capacities throughout the black liberation movement. Women were an indispensable part of the movement that could often be found working behind the scenes or in the trenches along side the men helping to bring about social change through the movement.

The women rights women started back in the late 1700's and 1800's, which set the stage for the rise of the women's movements. The reason for this is that many women grew increasingly dissatisfied with the limitations society had placed on their activities. This was known as the age of reason questioned established political and religious authority and stressed the importance of reason, equality, and liberty. The new intellectual atmosphere helped justify women's rights to full citizenship.

The history of American feminism--the self-conscious desire to achieve sexual equality--began soon after the Revolution, when women's rights tracts first appeared in print. Citizens of the late eighteenth century might read Englishwoman Mary Wollstonecraft's treatise on Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) or Judith Sargent Murray's essays in New England magazines. Both authors urged increased independence for women through access to education. The egalitarian spirit that pervaded their works reappeared in many ways over the next two centuries.

During the early nineteenth century, women participated in numerous efforts to improve women's status, defend their interests, and increase their rights. Educators, such as Emma Willard, Mary Lyon, and Catharine Beecher, promoted advanced training for women in female academies and seminaries. Thousands of women in the 1830s and 1840s joined moral reform societies, organized to end licentiousness, seduction, and prostitution. Female temperance societies strove to save abused wives and families from drunken spouses. Individual reformers spoke out for women's rights. Scottish radical Frances Wright, a follower of Robert Owen, addressed eastern audiences on women's need for equal education.

The right to become educated has been long sought after by women. The history of women's education parallels the beginning of feminism. Women have made huge strides toward receiving an equal education, but there is still much work to be done. This revolution is far from over. Material gains have been made, but an inequality of expectations and results of education for men and women remains.

While existing social mores change as time passes, an underlying social tendency to oppress women remains. Despite the progress women have made towards equal opportunities in education, the bias in favor of men has not been erased. Women must continue to fight to receive the education they deserve.

The importance of studying women in politics is inarguably one of the most influential and overlooked topics of the women's movement. In the politics arena omen are given the opportunity to level with men. To be given the opportunity to succeed is a landmark milestone in itself throughout women's history.

In the 19th century, women generally married and started reproducing at a much younger age than today.

The typical aristocrat woman married at the age of 21 and 50% of women gave birth to their first child within one year of marriage, while 80% within two years. It is evident that once women started having children, they generally didn_t let up as the median childbearing span lasted 18 years with an average of eight children per woman. The average woman in this particular society had her last child at 39 years of age.

The difference in these two eras is particularly evident when comparing statistics. For example, while the average age of a woman at her last birth in the Victorian era was 39, the average age for marriage among women in modern British society is 31.8 years old. At that age in the 19th century, a woman would be expected to already have delivered at least 6 or 7 children. Today, a significantly lower 1.75 children per family is that national average, with an average age of 29 years for the mother at the time of her first birth. In modern day British society, the reasons for having children are quite different than those of the 19th century. The cultural expectations to parenthood are strong and often send a message of disapproval to women who voluntarily abstain from reproducing. Cultural expectations can also be reflected in pressure from family and friends to start creating a family. Some women hope that becoming pregnant and having a baby will help a problematic or struggling marriage, assuming that a baby will bring the couple closer together. Other reasons for having a child in modern times include political, economic, and familial reasons such as extending a family name or carrying on a family business. Another factor influencing women then and now is an undeniable innate biological drive to reproduce.

1. Women and work

1.1 Type of employment

Many poorly educated young ladies simply worked for a large household as a servant. From here they could train to work in a kitchen but it is highly unlikely that they would have become the head of a kitchen as this was still the 'territory' of the male.

A table of employment gives an example of where women worked in 1900 : [See Appendix A].

The table clearly shows in which direction women were expected to go should they have work. Many poorly educated young ladies simply worked for a large household as a servant. From here they could train to work in a kitchen but it is highly unlikely that they would have become the head of a kitchen as this was still the 'territory' of the male.

Even "Teachers = 124,000" is somewhat misleading as female teachers nearly all worked in junior or nursery schools. What we would now call secondary schools were staffed by male teachers.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first lady to qualify to be a doctor . She then faced huge obstacles making progress in her profession. Men would not go to her simply because she was female , whereas, women usually kept with the way it was done then - they continued seeing a male GP. It took years for Anderson to succeed.

For decades women's progress in British society was haunted by the words of Queen Victoria:

"Let women be what God intended, a helpmate for man, but with totally different duties and vocations."

Coming from the most famous woman in the world at the time, men in power used these words to hinder the advance women had made. By 1900, women had been granted some improvements in their lifestyle via the law courts - it was only in 1891 that women were told that they could not be forced to live with a man if they did not want to - but because nearly all women were reliant on their husbands for a source of money, many women did live in miserable marriages. The myth that Victorian Britain was the time of great family values in that the family unit stayed together, is just that - a myth. Many wives could not leave their husbands even if they wanted to, simply because they did not have the financial independence that was needed to survive at the time. Also a divorced woman was shunned by society and treated as an outcast. With these obstacles, many women were forced to stay in unhappy marriages.

1.2 Yearning for independence

By being forced to live in this confinement, women yearned for independence. As in this story, "The Mother's Chain: or the Broken Link," published in a magazine in the 1890's, a daughter expresses her wishes to leave home and take a job.

"I should like to be independent, to earn my own living; and I am offered a situation as companion to an only child of rich parents, who is to attend classes at Queen's College and I am to share the benefit and help her in her studies; and then if she goes to Newnham or Girton I am to go with her, and I am to have a hundred a-year Mother, think of that!"

Her mother replies, "I think you are making a mistake, Margaret. In my young days, girls of your age were content to remain at home, and make home duties their calling till they married. I should be thankful, when the right time comes, to see you married; but I do wish you to leave home"

Be a self-directed person. Don't conform to what is necessary to gain acceptance and approval of other people.

Therefore, it was understood that seeking their own independence should not be their goal. They were taught to believe independence was only for the unfortunate women, and that she should be dependent on a man.

"Woman is so formed as to be dependent on man. The woman who is considered the most fortunate in life has never been independent, having been transferred from parental care and authority to that of a husband.

Do away with comparison. Wanting to be someone else destroys the good image we have about ourselves.

1.3 Labor for pregnant women in Victorian Era

The actual process of labor and delivery were very important to aristocratic families of the Victorian era. Many would travel to London weeks before to stay with friends throughout the final few weeks. The purpose of this journey, called going to town, was socially motivated as it made public the birth of a new baby. The house had to be prepared very specifically to accommodate the pregnant woman and her husband, friends, family, the doctor and his team of medical attendants. Not all women actually made the trip to London or to an alternate location to deliver, and therefore many rearranged all of the rooms and furniture in their own house to prepare for weeks of confinement. Confinement was the term used to describe the last few weeks of pregnancy that were spent in the bed of a specially prepared house.

The actual beds women gave birth on were lightweight and portable, and are significant for several reasons. One reason the delivery beds were so highly regarded among women in aristocratic Victorian families was because they increased the important female bonding aspect of childbirth. Because of this, the beds were passed down from generation to generation. Delivering a baby on a separate bed than the one it was conceived on diminishes the sexual connotations associated with birth. This not only reinforces Victorian values of prudence, but gives childbirth a more spiritual meaning, as well.

Anesthesia was first administered in 1847 to obstetric patients by the Scottish physician James Simpson. Before this pain-relieving medicine became popularized, doctors relied on blood-letting to alleviate labor pains. Up to 50 oz. of blood could be drawn to ease pain and weaken the patient as a whole.

Even during labor, Victorian principles of purity and modesty are evident. The clothing women wore consisted of a shift tucked up under the arms with a short petticoat placed about the hips which is to be removed after labor and the dry shift drawn down.The position most commonly used during child birth was the position which entailed lying on the left side of the body with knees bent and drawn up into the abdomen. This position prevented the accouchuer (doctor) and patient from seeing each other, enabling the mother to save face in an embarrassing situation for Victorian women.

The recovery time for women after labor and delivery lasted between four and six weeks, and consisted of various stages of progress. The stages began with something as simple as walking from the bed to a nearby sofa, and was ritually ended by going to church. There, the new mother would be religiously cleansed and had the opportunity to thank God for a full recovery.

1.4 Labor for pregnant women in modern days

Today, childbirth options are expanding rapidly to accommodate women during this strange and stressful time in their life. Traditional hospital delivery is just one of the many options women have. Giving birth in warm water tubs is growing in popularity although some find the procedure unsafe. Luxurious hospital birthing suites are now available and provide all the amenities of an upscale hotel. Some women prefer the comfort of their own home, but this procedure is risky due to the unpredictable nature of childbirth. If something were to go wrong, the proper equipment would not be available to fix the situation. Unlike the Victorian era when recovery lasted 4-6 weeks, new mothers are now released from the hospital within days of delivering their child.

2. Women and politics

2.1 Women rights

The women rights women started back in the late 1700's and 1800's, which set the stage for the rise of the women's movements. The reason for this is that many women grew increasingly dissatisfied with the limitations society had placed on their activities. This was known as the age of reason questioned established political and religious authority and stressed the importance of reason, equality, and liberty. The new intellectual atmosphere helped justify women's rights to full citizenship.

2.2 Laws that helped women

Beginning in the 1840's a series of laws were passed that began to allow women in marriage to have a bit more control. With the passage in 1839 of the Infants and Child Custody Act women were allowed take custody of their children under the age of seven if divorced or separated. They could not take custody if they had been found to be adulterous. Before this law the father was immediately awarded custody and it did not depend on the reasons for divorce. In 1857 secular divorce was established in England through the Matrimonial Causes Act/Divorce act. This allowed for the court to order payments to a divorced or estranged wife. The wife could inherit property, be sued and protect her wages from a husband who deserted her. She still could not get a divorce based only on her husband being an adulterer but a man could still divorce his wife solely for adultery. A woman had to prove that her husband had been cruel, deserted her or prove that incest had been committed obtain a divorce. As we move forward to 1870 the Married Women's Property Act allowed for women to keep their earnings and even inherit personal property and money. Everything else still belonged to her husband if she had acquired it before or after marriage. In 1883 the Custody Acts allowed for women to be awarded custody of children up to the age of 16. Slowly but surely women are gaining control over themselves, their children and their possessions. In 1882 a woman could finally keep all personal and real property that she had gotten before and during her marriage.

2.3 Feminists' view of law

Feminists' view of law as valedictory of male privilege and power has changed little since the 19th century. Both Victorian feminists as well as 20th century contemporary feminists find the law as supportive of male domination. While in the Victorian era, laws were more open in presenting women as subjected to male supremacy in accordance with Victorian sentiment and family division of labor, contemporary feminists also find contemporary law based on the privilege given the male. Both Victorian and contemporary feminist criticisms of the law rely on the liberal political theory of philosophers such as John Stuart Mill and John Locke to criticize their respective situations of injustice created by the law. At the same time, however, they find this same theory establishing of the male supremacy in law that these feminists seek to change. Both contemporary and Victorian feminist criticism of the legal theory supportive of the law find that by differentiating between a public sphere, i.e., work, commerce, industry and politics, and the private sphere which revolves around domesticity and the home, law reinforces the view of males as free, irresponsible, and autonomous, and of women as dependent and responsible for the essential work of rearing children and maintaining the private sphere of the home.

2.4 Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I [See Appendix B]. (7 September 1533 - 24 March 1603) was Queen of England, Queen of France (in name only), and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. She is sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen (as she never married), Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, and was immortalized by Edmund Spenser as the Faerie Queene. Elizabeth I was the sixth and final monarch of the Tudor dynasty (the other Tudor monarchs having been her grandfather Henry VII, her father Henry VIII, her half-brother Edward VI, her cousin Jane (also known as the 9 days queen), and her half-sister Mary I). She reigned for 45 years, during a period marked by increases in English power and influence worldwide, as well as great religious turmoil within England.

2.4.1 Early life

Elizabeth, who was three years old when her mother died, was declared illegitimate and lost the title of Princess. She also lost the money and gifts her mother had routinely showered upon her. After Anne's death, she was addressed as Lady Elizabeth and lived separately from her father as he married his succession of wives. In 1537, her father's third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to a son, Prince Edward, who became the official heir to the throne under the Act of Succession 1543.

Queen Mary I imprisoned her half-sister, the Princess Elizabeth, in the Tower of London for suspected treason and collaboration with the traitor Thomas Wyatt.

As long as Edward VI, her half-brother, remained on the throne, Elizabeth's own position remained secure. In 1553, however, Edward died of tuberculosis and assorted other ailments, aged only fifteen. He left a will, in which he attempted to nullify his father's wishes for the succession: disregarding the Act of Succession 1543, the new document excluded both Mary and Elizabeth from succeeding to the throne and declared Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Mary, Duchess of Suffolk (Henry VIII's sister) to be heiress. This change was part of a plan hastily thought up by the regent, John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who was determined to maintain his power and his reforms, and who had been surprised by Edward's sudden decline; with the connivance of Lady Jane's family, the Greys, Dudley married the heiress to his youngest son, Guilford Dudley. Upon Edward's death, Lady Jane ascended the throne, but was deposed less than two weeks later. Armed with popular support, Mary rode triumphantly into London, her half-sister Elizabeth at her side.

Following a moderate start to her reign, the Catholic Mary opted for a hard line against Protestants, whom she regarded as heretics and a threat to her authority. In the ensuing persecution she came to be known as "Bloody Mary". She urged Elizabeth to convert to the Roman Catholic faith, but Elizabeth, instead, kept up a skillful show of allegiance to suit her own conscience and ambitions. By the end of that year, when Mary was mistakenly rumoured to be pregnant, Elizabeth was allowed to return to court at Philip's behest. He worried that his wife might die in childbirth, in which case he preferred Lady Elizabeth, under his tutelage, to succeed rather than her next-closest relative, Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary of Scots had grown up in the French court and was betrothed to the French Dauphin and, although she was Catholic, Philip did not desire her to grasp the English crown because of the heavy French influence in her politics.

2.4.2 Early reign

In November 1558, upon Queen Mary's death, Elizabeth ascended the throne. She was far more popular than Mary, and it is said that after Mary's death the people rejoiced in the streets. Legend has it Elizabeth was sitting beneath an oak tree reading the Greek Bible at Hatfield when she was informed of her succession to the throne. As it was November and winter, it was unlikely Elizabeth would have been quietly reading but perhaps enjoying a brisk walk. A manservant approached her and breathlessly said, "Your Majesty…". Elizabeth then quoted Psalm 118 in response: "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes".

During her procession to the throne, she was welcomed wholeheartedly by the common people, who performed plays and read poetry exclaiming her beauty and intelligence. Elizabeth's coronation was on 15 January 1559. She was 25 years old. There was no Archbishop of Canterbury at the time; Reginald Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic holder of the office, had died shortly after Mary I. Since the senior bishops declined to participate in the coronation because Elizabeth was illegitimate under both canon law and statute and because she was a Protestant, the relatively unknown Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle crowned her. The communion was celebrated not by Oglethorpe, but by the Queen's personal chaplain, to avoid the usage of the Roman rites. Elizabeth I's coronation was the last one during which the Latin service was used; future coronations except for that of George I used the English service. She later persuaded her mother's chaplain, Matthew Parker, to become Archbishop.

One of the most important concerns during Elizabeth's early reign was religion. She relied primarily on Sir William Cecil (whom she called "Spirit") for advice on the matter. The Act of Uniformity 1559, which she passed shortly after ascending the throne, required the use of the Protestant Book of Common Prayer in church services. Communion with the Catholic Church had been reinstated under Mary I, but was ended by Elizabeth. The Queen assumed the title "Supreme Governor of the Church of England", rather than "Supreme Head", primarily because several bishops and many members of the public felt that a woman could not be the head of the Church.

2.4.3 Virginity

Although Elizabeth is referred to as the "Virgin Queen", because she never married, it is unclear whether she was literally a virgin. Even among her contemporaries she was a social and sexual enigma by refraining from marriage, sex, and childbirth. While a King was expected to keep a mistress or concubine it would have been politically dangerous for a woman to behave in the same manner. The sexuality of the sovereign was as important to the national psyche then as in her father's time -- though in a very different way.

It was advantageous in several ways for Elizabeth to retain her reputation as a virgin. Had she married, her status would not have changed from that of a queen regnant to a queen consort -- however, there were other consequences to consider. Because a Renaissance wife was expected to defer to a husband's authority, a reigning queen risked her political supremacy. Marital life might have created unwanted tension in the bedchamber, at home and abroad -- the marriages of her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, were sufficient examples in that regard.

However, rumors of affairs abounded, one of the most enduring being with Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. In 1575 she was closely associated with the Earl of Sild's teenage son who blossomed under her patronage and remained a loyal companion to her until her death.

2.4.4 Plots and rebellions

At the end of 1562, Elizabeth fell ill with smallpox, but later recovered. In 1563, alarmed by the Queen's near-fatal illness, Parliament asked that she marry or nominate an heir to prevent civil war upon her death. She refused to do either, and in April, she prorogued Parliament.

Parliament did not reconvene until Elizabeth needed its assent to raise taxes in 1566. The House of Commons threatened to withhold funds until the Queen agreed to provide for the succession. On 19 October 1566, Sir Robert Bell boldly pursued Elizabeth for the royal answer despite her command to desist; in her own words "Mr. Bell with his complices must needs prefer their speeches to the upper house to have you my lords, consent with them, whereby you were seduced, and of simplicity did assent unto it”.

Also in 1572, Elizabeth made an alliance with France. The St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, in which thousands of French Protestants (Huguenots) were killed, strained the alliance but did not break it.

Elizabeth even began marriage negotiations with Henry, Duke of Anjou (later King Henry III of France and of Poland), and afterwards with his younger brother Francois, Duke of Anjou and Alencon. During the latter's visit in 1581, it is said that Elizabeth "drew off a ring from her finger and put it upon the Duke of Anjou's upon certain conditions betwixt them two". The Spanish Ambassador reported that she actually declared that the Duke of Anjou would be her husband.

However, Anjou, who was reportedly scarred and hunch-backed, returned to France and died in 1584 before he could be married.

2.4.5 Death

The Queen's health remained good until the autumn of 1602, when a series of losses among her remaining friends appeared to throw her into a melancholy. In her depression, she was lethargic and silent, quite unlike her usual brisk manner. Then she fell silent. Her behaviour became eccentric. She stood upright, without relief, for two days, silent, with her finger held in her mouth like a tired child. It was as if she knew that, lying down, she would not rise again.

On March 21, 1603, the Lord Admiral finally persuaded the Queen to go to bed. They had to saw the Coronation Ring off her finger where it had grown into the flesh. She could no longer speak. Robert Cecil later alleged that she wordlessly signed to him that James VI of Scotland, son of Mary of Scotland, would be her heir. On March 24, with the Archbishop of Canterbury on his knees by her bed, praying with her women for her soul, she died, between two and three AM. Her physician later said it was like watching the falling of "a ripe apple from the tree." Elizabeth had ruled England for more than 44 years. A horseman was already travelling north to Scotland, and James VI, carrying her ring.


3.1 Social relevance

The right to become educated has been long sought after by women. The history of women's education parallels the beginning of feminism. Women have made huge strides toward receiving an equal education, but there is still much work to be done. This revolution is far from over. Material gains have been made, but an inequality of expectations and results of education for men and women remains. In medieval Europe, education for girls and women was at best patchy, and was controversial in the light of pronouncements of some religious authorities. It was also seen as stratified in the way that society itself was: in authors such as Vincent of Beauvais and Christine de Pisan], the emphasis is on educating the daughters of the nobility for their social position to come.

In early modern Europe, the question of female education had become a standard commonplace, in other words a literary topos for discussion. The case of Elizabeth I of England, with a strong humanist education, fits the pattern of education for leadership, rather than for the generality of women. Schooling for girls was rare; the assumption was still that education would be brought to the home environment. Comenius was an advocate of formal education for women.

The issue of female education in the large, as emancipatory and rational, is broached seriously in the Enlightenment. Mary Wollstonecraft is a writer who dealt with it in those terms.

Actual progress in institutional terms, for secular education of women, began in the West in the nineteenth century, with the founding of colleges offering single-sex education to young women. These appeared in the middle of the century. The Princess: A Medley, a narrative poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, is a satire of women's education, still a controversial subject in 1847, when Queen's College first opened in London. W. S. Gilbert parodied the poem and treated the themes of women's higher education and feminism in general with The Princess in (1870) and Princess Ida in 1883. Once women began to graduate from institutions of higher education, there steadily developed also a stronger academic stream of schooling, and the teacher training of women in larger numbers, principally to provide primary education. Women's access to traditionally all-male institutions took several generations to become complete.

Education has been the stumbling block keeping women from attaining equal status in society, separating them from their male counterparts. It has also been the door to this elusive dream of equality. Before women gained the right and privilege of higher education they were believed to be lower-class citizens, not worthy of voting or owning property, or any number of other “inalienable rights”. It was not only men who believed that women should hold a lower position than they. Queen Victoria said: " I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights', with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to 'unsex' themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection."(Victorian Station) Without education to empower them, many women believed that they should not hold the power to influence politics or even make decisions about their own property. Women were stripped of their dignity and privileges by men of the community and even by their own husbands. However, they were finally able to break free from these social constraints through education. It is telling that most of the early feminists were set apart from their complacent sisters by education. They were educated, and through this knowledge gained a sense of self-worth and the power to change history. Higher education is the foundation of the empowered women of today. The struggle for women's education has been an uphill battle that has not yet reached its citadel. This journey took root in the Victorian period and branched even to modern times. During the mid-eighteen hundreds women were expected to live up to a feminine ideal. This ideology required women to be “pure, pious, domestic and submissive” (Eisenmann Apendix). None of these ideals would be achieved through education. In fact, receiving an education in the Victorian Period was considered an “act of nonconformity”. A woman could not fill her preordained place in society if she wasting her time gaining knowledge. Education was thought to make women discontented with their current status, and possibly even irritated with men .Education for women was thought to disrupt the social balance of the time. On the contrary, the earliest push for Victorian women to become educated was because they were mothers of men and eventually teachers of men .It was not until the twentieth century that women began to desire knowledge for themselves as individuals.

3.2 History of women in education

In order to understand the women's education movement, it is important to have a brief background of its history. During the time of the ideal subservient woman a few bold women and events stand out as milestones in history. The first is in 1833; Oberlin College was founded. It was the nations first university to accept women and black students. The next important event was the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. This convention added fuel to the flame of education and suffrage. The Seneca Falls Declaration has been called “the single most important document of the nineteenth-century American woman's movement”. At the convention a declaration concerning women's rights was adopted modeling the Declaration of Independence. Appearing in addition to issues of suffrage were issues of education and employment. The Declaration of Sentiments states: He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known. He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education - all colleges being closed against her. This event is of utmost importance to the women's rights movement. It laid the foundation for future achievements even though suffrage was not achieved until 1920. After the Seneca Falls Convention women continued to achieve milestones in education. In 1877, Helen Magill became the first woman in the United States to earn her Ph.D. By 1880, women comprised eighty percent of all elementary school educators, and by 1910 women made up 39 percent of all collegiate undergraduate students and even 20 percent of all college faculty. Finally, in 1920 women's suffrage was achieved, giving women a secure foothold in society. In 1945, the first woman was accepted to Harvard Medical School, and by 1972 Title XI was passed to help end the discrimination based on sex for any educational program that received federal funding. In 1980 women equaled men in numbers enrolled in colleges with 51 percent. Finally, in 1996 Virginia Military Institute was forced by the Supreme Court to become coeducational. There are many other events along the path to education that helped women achieve the status they enjoy today. This brief chronology merely traces a few of the hundreds of thousands of victories women had to win in order to become educated.

3.2.1 Women and education many ears ago

A good way to illustrate the attitude towards education in the Victorian period is to quote Sally Mitchell in Daily Life in Victorian England. She states, Children in Victorian England were educated in many different ways-or not at all depending on their sex and their parents, financial circumstances, social class, religion, and values. Clearly, boys were getting opportunities to enjoy life rather than being told what their status and profession was. For girls, society stressed the importance of domestic education, such as etiquette, child-rearing and housekeeping. Basically, these jobs were to take care of the husband and children. For example, Deirdre Beddoe states, Тhey were taught to be good wives to working men and to be good mothers to the next generation of the workforce. Girls that were able to attend schools did not study with boys. Girls learned recipes, while boys studied math and science. For example, Beddoe states, Much of the education offered in girlsХ private schools was of a very low standard. Also, there was no integrated teaching. Girls learned from women and men taught boys. A college education appealed to older boys and the wealthy. Truly, girls were already looked upon as a lower class in this time period.

3.2.2 Women and education in modern days

Nevertheless times have changed. Now girls and boys are taught the same subjects in the same classrooms. Girls are no longer pressured to study stereotypical female disciplines. And society now accepts a male teacher to teach boys and girls. In the college level, girls are supposed to be able to perform the same duties as their fellow classmates. Also, there are organizations that make sure women are being treated equally in schools. For example, on the American Association of University Women website, it states ТPromoting education and all equity for women and girlsУ.It is a relief to know that organizations are aware that women have come a long way in education but there is still is more to be done. On a side note, since girls can study intellectual subjects, women in turn can have jobs that involve science, math and many other technical jobs. Since college education is being stressed, the age and attitude of marriage has changed.

3.3 Reasons for oppression

One of the main values that necessitated all of this arduous labor in order to simply become educated was that, people feared that the social system would break down if women were allowed to be educated. They worried that women would cease to fulfill their traditional roles if they received a higher education. It was even thought that a woman risked brain fever or sterility if she became educated.. These Victorian ideas seem ridiculous from a twentieth century perspective, but educated women today still have to deal with a certain measure of social stigma. It is often overlooked, however, because it has been adapted to fit the social constraints of today. They are forced at times to choose to live up to the dreams of their education or to live up to the societal implications of being a mother and wife.This is only one of many reasons that the fight for adequate woman's education is far from over.

3.4 University of Texas compared to Cambridge

The fact that the need for reform in women's education is not over is illustrated in two parallel cases. During the early feminist movement and the beginnings of the reform of women's education, the best case to study is Cambridge in England. At the time this university had established authority in academia there was not a comparable university in the United States. Therefore, it is necessary to compare universities across the boundaries of nations. Women first gained notoriety at Cambridge when in the 1860's Emily Davies was successful in her campaign to allow women to attend Cambridge University [See Appendix C]. However, they did not have the same status as the male students there.. Even though Cambridge was one of the first universities to encourage women to study they did not award women the same degrees as men upon completion of the same tests .This is a testament to the slow but steady progress of women in education. These women were dedicated and willing to study despite sub-par compensation upon completion of school. It was not until 1947 that women were admitted to Cambridge as equal .While it was a promising start for women in the Victorian period to even be allowed to study, it is necessary to evaluate the staggering length of time this progress took to occur. It took almost a century for women to gain the same recognition as men. In light of these facts, it is dangerous to assume that women today have equal educational opportunity. As little as fifty-five years ago women were celebrating the fact that they could finally earn a degree at Cambridge University. That is not a very distant past. When asked if women at The University of Texas still face issues of educational bias, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Women make up almost half of the undergraduate student population at forty-nine percent. Sadly, these women are outnumbered in fields that have traditionally been male-dominated such as architecture and medicine. However, the average grade point average of women is higher than men in every field of study. This makes it clear that it is not a discrepancy of ability that keeps women from pursuing these vocations. There must be some sort of lingering Victorian attitudes that keep women from living up to their potential. Women today aspire to more diverse areas of study and vocation. However, they are realistic about what the world has in store for them and therefore gravitate towards more typically female professions. Another important fact is that the percentage of women faculty is a meager 33 percent. Research has found that students tend to seek out classrooms and vocations in which they will feel comfortable and successful. Some students report avoiding courses that are overwhelmingly male because of the unwelcome feeling they experience in the classroom. How can women feel comfortable pursuing any field of study when male mentors and educators surround them and when the only contributions taught are those of males ? The battle for women's education will not be won until women feel free and comfortable to pursue any academic field.

4. Women and health

Throughout history, women's health issues have become an important part of the study of society. The ailments, causes, and treatments all reflect the period in which they occurred. In the Victorian period, women suffered from infections attributed to the society in which they lived.

Poor sanitation and a lack of knowledge of germs gave rise to the frequent infections that plagued women during epidemics as well as childbirzth.

Since then, advances in medicine and the sanitary conditions of society have brought about a different avenue of health problems for women. The women of today face not only diseases of genetic origin, but more importantly, diseases that arise from the poor habits that society has developed. Whether in the nineteenth century or the twenty first century, women's health issues reflect the lifestyle of the period in which they occur.

4.1 Importance

Even though women represent fifty one percent of the population, only recently have researchers, as well as the medical community, focused attention on women's special health care needs.

Women's health issues deserve special concentration since health care matters impact women differently than men. Due to the fact that women have to juggle both labor at work and labor at home, women often suffer from diseases previously thought to only affect men. Many diseases also occur in a much greater proportion of women than men, and some occur in women alone.

Most research focused only on men, with no knowledge about how the illness affected women or how the treatments improved or damaged their caliber of health.

Therefore, women's health issues have become an important part in examining the health of a population and in determining the ailments and treatments of a certain time period.

4.2 Women's health in the Victorian period

The health of women in the Victorian period was threatened mostly by contagious infections caused by the poor living conditions and public sanitation. Pregnancy and childbirth became the most dangerous time in the life of a Victorian woman. Maternal mortality, the deaths of women during pregnancy, labor, or post-partem, found itself as the main cause of death among women during the nineteenth century. The 1850's had an average number of maternal deaths per day of 8.5 while this number reached a peak during the 1890's with 12 maternal deaths per day. In most cases, the onset of puerperal fever, an infection that occurred in the pelvic region after delivery, was the cause of fatality among women. Puerperal fever generally set in two to five days after delivery and included such clinical manifestations as acute fever, an enlarged and tender uterus, pelvic abscesses and profuse menstrual flow.In the early nineteenth century, obstetricians began to realize that puerperal fever could be contagious. Physician Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in 1843 that puerperal fever was indeed contagious and that a physician could spread the disease from one patient to another . Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis advised in 1848 that the attending doctors should wash their hands in chlorinated water between patients and wear clean clothes to prevent such a transmission. This discovery brought about a major reform in the sterilization of equipment and extensive practice of antisepsis, which killed infectious microbes. It also aided in better training and regulations of midwives, emphasis on antenatal care, further training for specialist obstetricians, and the establishment of maternity hospitals. While many believed that the clinical factors previously mentioned provided the reasons for the high maternal mortality rate, others felt that the blame should lie in the non-clinical factors. Family income, nutrition, housing, hygiene, and availability of obstetric care all became influential factors in the occurrence of puerperal infection.

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