The changing position of women and the suffrage question

Topic: EducationGraduation
Sample donated:
Last updated: August 29, 2020

Women’s role in society was domestic, they were seen as intrinsically weak, passive and ‘delicate’ creatures who must be protected from the outside world. Women were altruistic ‘guardians’ of the home. Separate spheres The ‘angel in the house’ reflected and perpetuated the notion of separate spheres. Public man, and private woman. Although initially the preserve of the middle class, it began to permeate the working class. Unmarried women did not fit into the ‘angel of the house’ concept. 1851 – 29% of women over 20 were unmarried.Changes in women’s personal lives Education The male dominated, public sphere of education.

With education, women could go on to challenge in the masculine world of professional work. Previously, women who worked in the factory attended factory school (whatever that is? ), whilst pauper children went to the workhouse. Apart from a small minority of women who attended small fee-paying schools run by older women or charity schools set up by religious groups. However, these tended to reinforce the ‘angel in the house concept’.

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What was the situation? Working class 1870- State schools started to be created. But girls were still taught ‘angel in the house’. HOWEVER – Narrow curriculum and rigid teaching style, educated children based on a institutionalised sexist system. State schools, emphasised domestication, not education. Middle Class Educated to be wives and mothers of men from the same social class rather than to go out and work for a living. 1918 – Education made compulsory for ALL children up to age 13By end of 19th century, 97% of kids could read and write. Work Two labour markets – the working class and the middle class. Working class – Despite, ongoing technological changes and apart from a brief interlude in WW1, domestic service was the most common for working-class women.

Textile factory work second. Developments Growth of banking and commerce, combined with the subsequent inventions of the typewriter and telephone, new opportunities were created for the ‘white blouse’ worker.Yet, despite trade union/government attempts to improve wages and working conditions, working class women remained at the bottom of the economic scale.

Middle class – single or married, women should remain at home, look after children and engage in charitable work. IF they were forced to work, then they worked as a governess. Opening up the world of work to women: 1901-1930 Domestic service was looked upon favourably for working class women as it prepared them to lead lives as wives/mothers.

It provided the security of food and shelter, but women were viewed as sex objects by the males and expected to remain single and childless. 1881 one in three girls aged 15-20 were employed in domestic service. Technological innovation had a profound impact on job opportunities for women. Whilst the telephone and telegraph brought women into office work. – by 1914 the Post Office. Whilst the rapid increase in shops provided new work opportunities for lower middle class women. The work was clean and required well presented, respectable women.

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