Girls learn about "femininity" from childhood onwards, first through their relationships in the family, and later from their teachers and peers. Using sources which vary from diaries to Inspector’s reports, this book studies the socialization of middle- and working-class girls in late Victorian and early-Edwardian England. It traces the ways in which schooling at all social levels at this time tended to reinforce lessons in the sexual division of labour and patterns of authority between men and women, which girls had already learned at home. Considering the social anxieties that helped to shape the curriculum offered to working-class girls through the period 1870-1920, the book goes on to focus on the emergence of a social psychology of adolescent girlhood in the early-twentieth century and finally, examines the relationship between feminism and girls’ education.
Introduction 1. First Lessons in Femininity: The Experience of Family Life 2. Schooling, College and Femininity: Some Experiences of Middle-class Girls 3. Good Wives and Little Mothers: Educational Provision for Working-class Girls 4. Adolescent Girlhood: Autonomy versus Dependence 5. Feminist Perspectives and Responses