Women and Education in 19th Century

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The 19th century has had many milestones in educational, and personal advancements for girls and women. In the 1800s, women started gaining central roles in education, as teachers and as students, in official and unofficial educational settings. Were these advancements enough to educate women and girls in the 20th century? This paper will discuss the historical content that has led up to the need for Title IX within the current U.S educational system and how it has impacted males and females both past and present. Title IX (Public Law 92-318) of the Education Amendments prohibits sex discrimination in all aspects of education programs that receive federal support. Generally, the stories of women throughout modern history have been glazed over or omitted completely, which minimizes the significance of women’s contributions to the development of the United States of America. In early colonial times, only boys and some well –to- do girls went to school and received an education (cite from reader).

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Men were the head of the household and worked outside of the home sphere, which would necessitate the need for reading and writing abilities. Women rarely worked outside of the home and thus had no need to read or write. As the demand for education by women had increased, more pressure was put on the public schools to allow girls entrance. By the mid-1800s there were a handful of schools that allowed girls, but the classes were never co-ed and the coursework was not as challenging as the boy’s, which was heavy on math and sciences. Society finally seemed to accept the notion that girls do need an education because they needed to be able to teach their children at home and read the bible, not because they were preparing for a job or career. Women’s seminaries and colleges were emerging and in 1881, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) organized in Boston, which is an organization that according to their website, “”promotes equity and equality through the education of women”” (cite).

The AAUW published official research to the Board of Statistics that showed that women were not negatively affected physically, mentally, or otherwise by their schooling and education. Currently, the AAUW continues to help girls and women succeed despite the various intersecting biases some experience. At the turn of the century, most K-12 schools had become gender integrated. Co-education, however, did not insure an even playing field in academics. For females of any race, the vocational route was supported; even high achieving girls with excellent grades and high-test scores were required to take secretarial or home economics courses(cite).

Through the 1960s, girls were funneled into jobs that involved caretaking, which were narrowed down to being a mother, secretary, nurse, or teacher. It was not until 1972, that an executive order by President Nixon came into effect. In this order, it became illegal to discriminate in educational institutions based on sex. This included: sports, federal financial aid, scholarships, career advising, admission, and the treatment of students. This law would be called Title IX and if this law is violated under this title, a school would run the risk of losing funding from the federal government. However, there is rarely funding to pay someone who is supposed to oversee schools to make sure they follow Title IX (Zittleman). Today, gender bias and discrimination continues in the coursework, textbooks, standardized tests, and even policies.

According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (1995) most students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs were women, although more men were enrolled in programs such as medicine, law, or dentistry. However, the gap has narrowed over time. For instance, the percentage of degrees earned by women rose dramatically between 1960 and 1993. Women that earned law degrees went from only two percent to forty-two, medical degrees from six percent to thirty-eight percent, and dentistry degrees from one percent to thirty-four percent.

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Women and Education in 19th century. (2020, Mar 31). Retrieved September 28, 2022 , from
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