What were educational opportunities for women during the colonial period?

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npoore84's profile pic

npoore84 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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There were very few educatioal opportunities for women during the early colonial times. The basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught to all young children in basic schools. Girls stopped going to school when they hit their teenage years. It was still expected that they learn the basics of household chores and caring for a home. However, they began to search for ways to increase their educational opportunities as well as equal rights in the later years to come.

Girls didn't begin to attend schools outside of homes until the end of the 1700's. Schools were scarce in the 18th century until Cotton Mather re-emphasized the importance of an education. Eventually by the 1750's, 65% of girls could at least read and write and began to increase as time went on.

william1941's profile pic

william1941 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Education was not available to girls for a majority of the colonial era. This kept female literacy rates very low until the end of the eighteenth century. The education that was offered was usually for domestic and religious purposes. For example the Puritans of New England, taught all children how to read so that they could read the Bible. Unlike boys, girls were only taught how to od things like needlework and cooking.

The lack of education kept women away from getting involved in business or law. An exception to this was the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which is the present day New York. Here both men and women were actively involved in business and legal life. In this region the over 75 percent of the women could read and write by the late 1600s, which was in sharp contrast to the 30 percent who could do the same in New England.

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