Why would education have led middle-class women to address societal problems in the Progressive Era?
During the Progressive Era, women were deeply involved in such reform movements as the settlement house movement and the temperance movement. This was partly because women were coming to be more educated. There are at least two reasons why more education would lead women to be involved in reform movements.
First, women who had more education might simply be more aware of the problems that exist in society. A person who goes to college is likely to be exposed to much more of the world than a person who does not. Women who had more education, then, had more chances to learn about the problems in society that needed to be fixed.
Second, women who had more education might aspire to do something more with their lives than simply working as housewives. Women who had an education might feel that they should participate more in society as a whole. Since it was hard for women to get jobs that were commensurate with their education in those days, educated women might have used social reform work to satisfy their desire to do more than act as housewives.
In these ways, higher levels of education for middle class women helped lead such women to participate more in social reform efforts.