The role of women in education of the working classes - 1870-1904

Martin, Jane (1992). The role of women in education of the working classes - 1870-1904. PhD thesis The Open University.



Focusing upon the twenty-nine female members of the London School Board, this thesis examines the position of women Involved with the institution of elementary education in late-Victorian and Edwardian England. It is usually assumed that the responsibility for mass schooling mostly lay with men working within both central and local government, I have gone beyond this perspective in order to examine the problem of class and gender as competing power structures in the development of an English school system.

The Issue of gender Is addressed by investigating both gender relations on the various School Boards for London, and the relationship between contemporary notions of masculinity and femininity and elementary education between 1870 and 1904. In exploring the ways in which the social inequalities of gender shaped and influenced women's experience of public office, the study goes some way towards correcting the emphasis upon predominantly male agents in existing historical accounts of the relationship between the educational structure and society and the inter-relationship of its component parts.

Focusing upon the biographies of female members of the London School Board, the thesis explores the links between private life, social networks and the entry of women to the public domain. It examines the stance adopted by individual London School Board women on the formal curriculum, the adminstration of reformatory institutions, and attitudes towards working class children In school, considered In terms of the Interplay of the social divisions of gender and class.

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