Why Should Women
Be Left Out of Account?
1873 — Belfast, Ireland
Why should women be left out of account? Whatever the reasons may be, all friends of education, all who care more for the education of the people than for carrying out any particular theory as to the mode, should make a united effort to obtain consideration of the claims of women now, while the whole question is under discussion. If we neglect this opportunity, no other may occur for fifty years to come. The indifferentism will get hardened in new grooves, and we shall soon find ourselves worse off than English women, who are claiming and getting some share of school endowments, if not of college endowments. I am exceedingly thankful for the university examinations which have lately been instituted. They are the first really efficient help that has bene offered to women and, though only in their infancy, have already done great good. But, after all, they only test teaching — they do not give it. Considering that there are not, I suppose, above half-a dozen schools or institutions in the country that are capable of preparing girls well, for the senior examinations at least, and that those who are working privately with friends or tutors are at a disadvantage I may ways, my wonder is that the average attainments of the candidates at these examinations has been so high. Of course, there have been exceptionally brilliant candidates, but these would have done well under any system. We must draw the attention of the government and the legislature to the facts of the case, and claim from them that in arranging for the higher education of one half of the nation they shall not shut out the other half from its advantages. Having been only this moment asked to bring the matter before you. I have no detailed scheme to suggest; but all the friends of education should take it into immediate consideration, to see what is the most practicable plan. No body in Ireland has a better right to take the lead in such a movement than the Queen’s Institute; and it would be well that those who feel the importance of the subject should communicate with Miss Corlett or the committee, and indicate their willingness to cooperate in any feasible plan for opening at least some of the advantages of collegiate education to women.
Source: “The Education of Women (1873), in Women in Ireland, 1800-1910: A Documentary History, ed. Maria Luddy (Cork: Cork University Press) 1995, p. 140.