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How easy was it for young women to go to university? 1860-1930
The education of girls and their participation in public exams had been challenged, this this has little
relevance if young women could not carry their education forward and enter higher education?
Q: How could higher education be seen as the final blow to `angel in the house' and the ending of
Women become financially independent
Enter the public sphere
Dorothea Beale's response to Sarah Sewell:
It is not a comprehensive education that de-feminises women, in fact, a rounded knowledge of
subjects beyond domestic duty is sure to enhance their relationships with their husbands; the two,
able to relate to each other more, could have intellectual conversation, and in turn, raise children with
the potential to make great differences in the modern world- in the fields of science and literature and
mathematics. The education of women would better their motherly skills, also, in comprehension of
the best for her own children, as well as fulfilling domestic duty. Women, able to apply themselves in a
broader range of fields, would be more interesting individuals and better able to integrate themselves
in the modern society of men.
Origins of H.E for young women-
1848: Queen's College London was founded to educate middle-class women to become governesses
and teachers and governed by men
1849: Bedford College London founded to offer women a full liberal arts education and included
women on its governing body. Mainly used by women wishing to become teachers.
1878: University of London opened its degrees to women. Bedford Westfield wand Royal Holloway
became constituent colleges (for women only) of the university.
Women were not satisfied by these developments, though. What they really wanted was the two élite
universities, Oxford and Cambridge, to open their doors to women too.
Problem: Oxbridge was that they carried great symbolic weight because of their worldwide renown.
However, in reality, however, the campaign to admit women was part of a larger campaign to turn
Oxford and Cambridge into first class research and training institutions rather than places where
gentlemen pursed classical studies in a more or less relaxed manner. Some thought that women would
force men to step up a gear in their studies.
Campaigns: Campaigns led by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Dorothea Beale, Barbara Bodichon,
Frances Mary Buss and Emily Davies. They founded the North of England Council for Promoting the
Higher Education of Women (NECPHEW), the London's National Society for Women's Suffrage, the
Society for Promoting the Employment of Women and The Englishwoman's Journal.
Opposition: Through determination, and persistent pressure, concessions were gradually won.
Women were not allowed to gain degrees and demonstrations were huge. Cambridge opened Girton
and Newnham colleges for girls eventually.
Medicine: Medical faculties were more conservative, and more opposed to admitting women, than
any of the others. Coupled to this was the general distaste felt about women attending classes in
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They thought that women
weren't emotionally suitable for medicine. Elizabeth Garratt Anderson became the first woman to
qualify as a doctor in England in 1865.
Source T: Female students would have felt really out of place and unwelcome, oppressed and
degraded, faced with the demonstration shown in source T, as well as intimidated and threatened. A
man would explain why he got involved in this demonstration by saying he was protecting women,
that they were too weak and fainthearted to study.…read more