Social, Legal and Political Position of Women in the 1890s

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  • Middle-class Women
    • Usually educated at home by a governess.
    • Taught music, singing and drawing.
    • Seen as ornaments for men.
    • Many attended school in the latter half of the 19th century.
    • Struggled to go on to higher education and could not be awarded degrees.
    • Could teach (though had to be single), be nurses (had to resign when married), or do clerical work.
    • By 1900 could be doctors and architects, but not lawyers.
    • Main aim to their education was to make them good wives and mothers.
    • Men were paid more for similar jobs.
    • In an inferior position within marriage.
    • Property passed to husbands.
    • Could only divorce with solid proof of cruelty, desertion and bigamy.
    • In divorce, women lost rights over children.
    • Became husband's property.
  • Working-class women
    • Most had to go out to work.
    • Many women worked at home or in small workshops.
    • Towards the end of 19th century there were jobs in many new shops and jobs as typists.
    • Has to leave jobs when they married and were paid a great deal less than men.
    • Only went to school due to compulsory education.
    • In an inferior position within marriage.
    • Main aim to their education was to make them good wives and mothers.
    • Property passed to husbands.
    • Men were paid more for similar jobs.
    • Became husband's property.
    • In divorce, women lost rights over children.
    • Could only divorce with solid proof of cruelty, desertion and bigamy.

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