The Educated Woman: Minds, Bodies, and Women's Higher Education in Britain, Germany, and Spain, 1865-1914, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Educated Woman

Minds, Bodies, and Women's Higher Education in Britain, Germany, and Spain, 1865-1914, 1st Edition

By Katharina Rowold


322 pages

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The Educated Woman is a comparative study of the ideas on female nature that informed debates on women’s higher education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in three western European countries. Exploring the multi-layered roles of science and medicine in constructions of sexual difference in these debates, the book also pays attention to the variety of ways in which contemporary feminists negotiated and reconstituted conceptions of the female mind and its relationship to the body. While recognising similarities, Rowold shows how in each country the higher education debates and the underlying conceptions of women’s nature were shaped by distinct historical contexts.


"The Educated Woman is a significant comparative study that challenges us to re-examine the part played by both feminists and anti-feminists in the struggle for women’s access to higher education. It is an important new source for both undergraduate and graduate courses."- Sandra L. Singer, Professor of German, Alfred University, US

'…this book is an impressive piece of work. By examining scientific and medical theories about women’s higher education, Katharina Rowold illuminates two key themes. In the first place, she shows how social Darwinist and eugenic thought was shaped and reshaped by different national contexts – and how this process helped to frame debates about the admission of women to university. Second, she explores how both those in favour and those against the higher education of women drew on the rhetoric of science to articulate their arguments.' - William Whyte, University of Oxford, UK

'The Educated Woman is a valuable and thoroughly researched study that illuminates the interaction of numerous different strands – the scientific, the medical, the religious, the political – within specific national contexts and particular historical moments on this important topic.' - Lesley A. Hall, Wellcome Library, UK

'Katharina Rowold has made a strong contribution to comparative higher education history with her analysis of how ideas about women’s mental and physical capacities developed across time in three European countries.' - Linda Eisenmann, Wheaton College, USA

'Throughout her highly informative and well-researched study, Rowold highlights areas of similarity and difference in the debates about women's admittance to higher education both within the countries themselves and between them and engages at key points with the relevant historiography.' - Helen L. Boak, Women's History Review

'Rowold's monograph deserves a wide readership and will be especially invaluable for anyone interested in women's history in Germany and Spain.' - Helen L. Boak, Women's History Review

Table of Contents

Introduction: Women’s Higher Education and the Female Mind and Body. Part 1: Britain 1. Science, Feminism, and Sexual Difference: Moulding Female Nature through Higher Education, 1860s–1890 2. The Politics of Reproduction and Women’s Higher Education, 1885–1914 Part 2: Germany 3. Women, Bildung, and Culture, 1865–1900 4. ‘Die akademische Frau’: Motherhood, Race, and Culture, 1890–1914 5. Masculine Minds in Female Bodies: Sexology and Women’s Higher Education, 1869–1914 Part 3: Spain 6. Educated Women Give Birth to Advanced Nations, 1868–1900 7. After 1898: Degeneration and Regeneration. Conclusion.

About the Author

Katharina Rowold is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at London Metropolitan University.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Gender and History

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies