Greatest Ideas


Through most of human history, power was largely exercised by men, with the lives of women limited to narrow spheres. It was widely believed that women were not suited to certain jobs, voting or taking part in politics. In the Nineteenth Century, the women’s suffrage movement campaigned for the right of women to have the vote. There were similar attempts for women to move into previously men only fields. For example, in the Nineteenth Century we see the first registered female doctors, lawyers and engineers. Gradually over the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries we have seen women gain increased rights and opportunities, which were previously denied.

We now take for granted that women have their own careers, that they can vote, that they're not the ' property' of their husbands. But even a hundred years ago one would have still encountered the argument that there was no point in giving women the vote, since their interests were the same as their husbands', and so they would of course vote however their husbands did.

The 20th century saw the biggest ever changes in the position of women. But the foundations were laid by 18th and 19th-century philosophers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill, who were courageous enough to question the status quo.