Victorian attitudes, being what they were, separated the sexes. Women should be nurturers, mothers, wives, and homemakers. Men should be protectors, breadwinners, and if either partner in marriage were to engage in business or education, it would be he.
Many single women hoping to find a spouse between 1865 and 1869 attended college. Ambitious women enrolled in schools across the eastern portion of the states were seeking to become doctors, lawyers, and journalists. Unfortunately for these ladies, men viewed female college graduates as poor homemakers, and the few eligible bachelors around kept their distance from educated ladies.
~ Object: Matrimony, The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier, by Chris Enss, p 36
Victorian-era American schools, even in the Old West, were so much more than one-room schoolhouses. High schools were prevalent and seen as preparatory for University. Though western one-room school teachers are often portrayed as predominately male, female teachers were preferred–and the reasons might surprise you.
After reading one little segment (a “one-night stand”) within Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger’s One-Night Stands with American History: Odd, Amusing, and Little-Known Incidents. I have just one thing to say: I was born in the correct century. Maybe not as far as chivalry and honor among men go, but definitely as far as prevailing attitudes regarding education of females. I share one section of Shenkman and Reiger’s entertaining book, with two cited sources.
WOMEN ARE DUMBER
In the late 1800’s many physicians regarded increased female education as a primary factor in a general decline of female health. A woman’s brain was simply not capable of assimilating a great deal of academic instruction (and that’s just the beginning of the quote).