chapter  3
22 Pages

Women and the Economy

Discussion about women's education was usually linked to women's ultimate goals. Emily Davies, a leader in the drive to open higher

education to women, when testifying before the Schools' Inquiry Commission was asked whether the problem of motivation of young women was entirely educational. She replied that it was not. Girls had to feel there were goals beyond school for which they could aim: jobs requiring technical skills and professions requiring higher education. As long as women were denied further goals, Davies claimed, their education would lack meaning. 2

Since women were not expected to become skilled workers or professionals, what point was there in educating them as though they were? Education was expensive, and resources in any family were limited. There had to be priorities. Men were expected to work throughout their active lives; the better their job, the higher their salary. Higher education for a boy was a sound investment as well as a social asset. Girls had different goals and should be educated accordingly. Governesses, if families could afford them, or otherwise private girls' schools, would give girls all the education they needed. A woman's chances of attracting a husband were unlikely to be enhanced by her going to a university or becoming a 'blue-stocking'. Nor were a woman's chances of finding employment improved by attending university, since any work suitable for a woman did not need a university education as a qualification.