Cultural and political events during these centuries increased attention to women's issues such as education reform, and by the end of the eighteenth century, women were increasingly able to speak out against injustices.
Throughout most of history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Wifehood and motherhood were regarded as women's most significant professions.
In the 20th century, however, women in most nations won the right to vote and increased their educational and job opportunities. Perhaps most important, they fought for and to a large degree accomplished a reevaluation of traditional views of their role in society. Early Attitudes Toward Women Since early times women have been uniquely viewed as a creative source of human life.
Historically, however, they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil. In Greek mythology, for example, it was a woman, Pandora, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind.
Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men. Early Christian theology perpetuated these views. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church, said: In ancient India, for example, women were not deprived of property rights or individual freedoms by marriage. But Hinduism, which evolved in India after about BC, required obedience of women toward men.
Women had to walk behind their husbands. Women could not own property, and widows could not remarry. In both East and West, male children were preferred over female children. Nevertheless, when they were allowed personal and intellectual freedom, women made significant achievements.
During the Middle Ages nuns played a key role in the religious life of Europe. Aristocratic women enjoyed power and prestige. Whole eras were influenced by women rulers for instance, Queen Elizabeth of England in the 16th century, Catherine the Great of Russia in the 18th century, and Queen Victoria of England in the 19th century.
Women were long considered naturally weaker than men, squeamish, and unable to perform work requiring muscular or intellectual development. In most preindustrial societies, for example, domestic chores were relegated to women, leaving "heavier" labor such as hunting and plowing to men.
This ignored the fact that caring for children and doing such tasks as milking cows and washing clothes also required heavy, sustained labor. But physiological tests now suggest that women have a greater tolerance for pain, and statistics reveal that women live longer and are more resistant to many diseases.
Maternity, the natural biological role of women, has traditionally been regarded as their major social role as well. The resulting stereotype that "a woman's place is in the home" has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves.
Today, contraception and, in some areas, legalized abortion have given women greater control over the number of children they will bear. Although these developments have freed women for roles other than motherhood, the cultural pressure for women to become wives and mothers still prevents many talented women from finishing college or pursuing careers.
Traditionally a middle-class girl in Western culture tended to learn from her mother's example that cooking, cleaning, and caring for children was the behavior expected of her when she grew up. Tests made in the s showed that the scholastic achievement of girls was higher in the early grades than in high school.
The major reason given was that the girls' own expectations declined because neither their families nor their teachers expected them to prepare for a future other than that of marriage and motherhood. This trend has been changing in recent decades.
Formal education for girls historically has been secondary to that for boys. In colonial America girls learned to read and write at dame schools.Status of Women in the 18th Century and in French Revolution A review of women’s status was first attempted in Britain and the US in the 18th century.
The amount of attention women received was incomparable since they remained in obscurity for a . In the 19th century, women began working outside the home. Women and children worked twelve hours a day in poorly ventilated rooms.
By , one fifth of resident college and university students were women. This trend of social inequality is evident especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. Generally, the 18th and 19th century was an extremely difficult time for women in Britain (Waters 11). They were rated as second-class people, and were kept from such things as voting and education, among other things.
Women in Nineteenth-Century America by Dr. Graham Warder, Keene State College. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the evangelical fires of the Second Great Awakening swept the nation. The Status of Women in the States provides data on women’s progress in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States overall.
The data can be used to raise awareness, improve policies, and promote women’s equality. Improvement in condition and revival of status of women during the British period: The early years of the 20th century witnessed rapid progress in breaking down prejudices against women’s education.
A number of women’s societies sprang up.