The Changing Status of Women


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What were the social, political and legal position

The Victorians view on the women's role in life was to be a wife and mother. She had to obey her husband and do as much as she could to make his life easier. 

Working Class Women

  • Before 1870, most working class girls did not go to school. In 1880 it was made compulsary for all cihldren between the age of 5 and 10 to attend. By 1900, 97% of all children could read and write. 
  • Working class married women had to go out and work becuase they needed the money. They would have jobs such as domestic servant, small workshops, sewing or making match boxes or candles and working in textiles factories. 
  • New jobs were appearing in the 1900s. These jobs were in new shops that were opening as well as typists and telephone switch boards. 
  • There were disadvantages of these jobs, they had to leave when they were married, they were paid a great deal less then men and had to work long hours.
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What were the social, political and legal position

Middle Class Women

  • Middle class women were 'ornaments' of men because they were taught music, singing and drawing. These would make then an agreeable companion for the husband.
  • In the 1900s London and Manchester Universities accepted women. Women's colleges had been founded in Oxford and Cambridge.
  • New employment oppurtunities openeed for women:
    - Teaching (femaile teachers had to be single)
    - Nursing (nurses had to resign when they got married)
    - Clerical work. Some becamae typists and telephonists. They could also become doctors and architects. Their pay was not as much as men even for the same job.  
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What were the social, political and legal position


Marriage for women improved because women could bring in divorces for cruelty, desertion and bigamy. Women could keep their own property after they married. A women did not have to stay with her husband against their will.

However, ways that hadn't improved were that battering and marital **** was still legal. Husbands could divorce the wife for adultery but women could not divorce the husband for adultery. If a divorce accord the women lost all rights against the men.


There were still a few faults in the improvements because women were still not as equal as men. They worked long hours in the same jobs as men but earned less. Women also could still get battered and marital **** because it was still legal. Most things had improved but there were still things missing. The political issues missing was the vote. 

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What were reasons for and against women getting th


  • Any decisions made affected both men and women.
  • Single women and widowers who have the same responsibilities as men. 
  • Women are churchgoers and if they vote, shows Christian leadership.
  • Women opportunities are growing so the vote should as well.
  • Women had different skills to men. They can help make laws on education and home.
  • Women pay taxes like men do.
  • Women should have a say on how money is spent.
  • Uneducated men can vote even when educated women can't.
  • Women can already vote in local elections. Showing they can be trusted with the vote. 
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What were the social, political and legal position


  • Men and women had different interests and responsibilities.
  • Middle class women will have little interest in laws to help ordinary working people. 
  • Women are not rational. They are too emotional.
  • Women are pure and should be protected from the world of politics.
  • Women do not fight in the war so they shouldn't get a say in whether the country goes to war. 
  • There are more important concerns then the vote.
  • Giving the vote to the women means giving the vote to all men including layabouts and riff raff.
  • Giving respectable women the right to vote will encourage them to develop their careers and neglect their family duties. 
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Miss E


Very good background of the situation of women before the turn of the century and arguments that were used  for and against suffrage. It would be good to go onto revision of the movements themselves after working on these cards.

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