The female role model in Norway 1814–1920 – continuity and break

This article argues that the female role model in the period 1814–1920 indeed underwent changes, but also that continuity in gender regime was upheld. Women obtained access to various political, religious, social and economic public spheres in a much wider sense than ever before. Most importantly, the number of female employees increased in the 1870s and onwards, in addition to the simultaneously emergence of comprehensive entrepreneurship in the hands of both married and unmarried women. Furthermore, in the two-three last decades of the 19th century women became integrated into many associations, especially in the missionary and the laity movement. However, women still encountered expectations that they should play a passive role in different public spheres, and should not perform leadership, until decisive reforms and changes occurred in the beginning of the 20th century. In fact, the first part of the 19th century saw a masculinisation of politics in ideals and practice, and norms evolved underlining a sharper distinction between a masculine public sphere and a feminine private sphere. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Norwegian suffragettes and other female activists in their strategies from 1880s to 1913 adapted a strategy which emphasized housewife as the natural female role model.