The role of women in society in the nineteenth century
was restricted by social conventions and limited opportunities. Women were expected to marry and have children, and be financially dependent on their husbands.
Schooling for girls was more limited than for boys. Women rarely had careers and most professions refused entry to women. Women were allowed to become teachers, but teaching was a low-status job, and was badly paid.
During the late nineteenth century, a number of circumstances challenged women’s accepted role in society. The assumption that women should marry was complicated by a shortage of men. The limitations of schooling for women were highlighted by the Taunton Royal Commission Report on secondary education in 1868.
A series of female educational pioneers emerged. Their efforts formed part of a wider movement of campaigners who sought to bring women equal rights to study, work, own property and vote.