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Thematic History
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In this section:     Victorian ideals versus education for women  

> Thematic History

> 1850-1901:
Education for Women

- Victorian Ideals

- Woman Physician
- Ladies College

> 1902-1913:
Education & Vocation

- Learning at ELC
- The Westfield Way

> 1914-1945:
War & Circumstance

- The Great War
- WWII Evacuation
- Learning & Leisure

> 1946-1959:
Peace & Acceptance

- Restoration
- Medicine & Dentistry

> 1960-present:
Change & Opportunity

- Women in Science
- Creativity & Diversity
- Then & Now


The idea of education for women was opposed by many. This included religious, social and scientific arguments. Christian doctrine was interpreted by some as dictating women’s inferiority to men. Some believed that study would leave women ill-prepared for marriage. Others predicted that there would be economic consequences if women entered the work force and increased competition for jobs. Medical evidence was used to argue that education could put women at risk of developing brain fever, male traits and sterility.

Detail from
Detail from “A Limpsfield Cottage. From Life” by Constance Maynard, April 13th 1868.
Courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London Archives.

The painting above depicts Maynard's homelife in Kent, where she grew up in a strict evangelical household. Her parents were reluctant about her going to Girton College, Cambridge, and her father attempted to dissuade her with the offer of a new pony. But in 1872, she joined the new college for women at Hitchin, which soon after became Girton College, Cambridge. More...


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