Throughtout the ages of Europe’s history, society’s views on the education of women has constantly changed. During the Renaissance age, noble women were encouraged to seek an education so they would be able to carry on intellectual conversations at social gatherings. The Reformation brought opinions which were completely opposed to the ideas of women getting an education and most people thought that women shouldn’t learn and form their own opinions.
The 17th and 18th centuries displayed a betterment in society’s views on women’s education because people believed that middle class women should also gain some knowledge so they’d be able to help their husbands in his trade. The Renaissance age’s views on education were purely involved with noble women and no one else. Women who were below the noble class were not expectd or encouraged to gain an education at all. The women who were noble were encouraged to gain an education so they would make their husbands look good and they’d be useful at social gatherings because they would be able to socialize with other educated people.
Society viewed women’s potential to learn as equal to a man’s, but the women were not completely expected to get involved or pursue the political or professional jobs that the educated men had. The women of the Renaissance’s education was almost entirely for entertainment purposes only. The Reformation brought opinions which were far more negative than the views brought on from the Renaissance age. Women were thought to only be useful for taking care of children and carrying out the duties of keeping the house clean.
People believed that women were also physically built to do those jobs, so they believed that God wanted them to do only that. Men did not want women to gain any education because they believed that if women formed their own opinions, it would cause chaos. The 17th and 19th centuries brought out more positive opinions toward the education of women compared to the opinions of the Renaissance and Reformation. Instead of just the noble women seeking an education, middle class women were now also encouraged to learn. The reasons why the middle class women should learn was a bit different from why the noble women were encouraged to learn though.
While it was just for entertainment purposes with the noble women, middle class women were encouraged to learn so they would be able to help their husbands carry out the duties of his trade. If the husband was to die, the woman had to know how to take over her husband’s trade and continue it without him, so she needed to be educated. Women were not encouraged to seek knowledge about other things which did not involved the trade they were involved in though, but nevertheless, the 17th and 18th centuries broadened the scope of education for women and included more women into it.
Society’s views on the education of women changed throughout the times. There still is no clear distinction between the ages and their opinions because through all the ages, men still did not view women’s education as being important. The evolution of women’s education was also not a gradual step towards betterment. It was more like a roller coaster; going up and down, switching from positive to negative to positive again. In the end, everything eventually got better and led to the views and opinions on the capabilities of women that we have today.