Women in the European Empires

Project Author: 
Katelyn Ball
Semester/Year: 
Fall 2013

During the nineteenth century European nations expanded their empires, particularly the world power Great Britain, as well as France and the emerging power of Germany. The Industrial Revolution and capitalism played large parts in this expansion of empire. A need for new markets and resources encouraged these industrialized, capitalistic nations to expand their colonial holdings to maintain their economically competitive status as a world power. Women played a part within these expanding empires, and in their work, found a liberation that they could never find at home. Women left home and went abroad into the empire for a number of reasons, and took on a variety of roles. They went as missionaries, and teachers, worked as medical practitioners, and took on clerical roles as part of the bureaucracy of empire among other things. These women challenged traditional gender roles, and found liberation in so doing. Women in the empire brought a domesticity to the colonial frontier, and although originally thought to be destabilizing agents, they helped to establish the empire and civilization in the colonies. Taking on non-traditional roles and working outside the parameters of female domesticity, these women reinforced Women's Rights Campaigns going on at home, while simultaneously upholding the empire's ideals.

Region: 
Citation: 

Ball, Katelyn. "Women in the European Empires." In Digital History. Columbia: University of Missouri, 2013.

Women in the European Empires