Classroom Activities

  1. Discuss Mosher’s ethos at the time of her speech to the YWCA. How would her background and experience have affected the reception of her speech?
  2. Why would Mosher, a physician, scientist, and professor, be interested in speaking to the YWCA? How do you think the organization might have received her feminist message on women’s health? What do you think might have attracted Mosher to the organization in the first place?
  3. What about Mosher’s speech might lead us to label her a “feminist?” What about her views on menstruation, menopause, women’s heath, or women’s role in society do you think people at the time might have seen as “radical?” Would she be considered a “radical” feminist today?
  4. How does the term “feminism” mean to you? Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Student Research

  1. When Mosher graduated from medical school in 1900, only 6% of physicians were women. What is the percentage today? Do male and female physicians tend to go into different specialties? What percentage, for example, of obstetricians are men? What percentage of orthopedic surgeons are women?
  2. In Mosher’s day, sports were considered masculine activities. How has that changed over time? What percentage of female college students participate in athletics today? How does that compare to male college students?
  3. Mosher’s speech to the YWCA was delivered at a time in U.S. history referred to as the Progressive Era. Why is that period in U.S. history called the Progressive Era? What issues, themes, or topics characterized the Progressive Era?
  4. Mosher began her academic career at the all-female institution, Wellesley College. How many single-sex colleges remain in the United States? Choose an all-female college and research their mission statement on their website. How do they defend single-sex education? Do you agree or disagree? Would you ever consider attending a single-sex college? Why or why not?
  5. How many YWCA chapters are there in the United States? What is the closest location to where you live? What types of programs do they have, and what sorts of causes do they support?

Citizenship Resources

  1. Mosher required her college students to read the works of nineteenth-century suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Anna Howard Shaw. Find a speech on-line by either Stanton or Shaw and try to determine why Mosher would want her students to read these speeches. What commonalities, if any, does Stanton or Shaw have with Mosher?
  2. Find a speech by a contemporary feminist activist. Research the activist’s background and reputation, or ethos. What specific issues does the activist support? If Mosher were alive today, would she support those issues? Why or why not?
  3. Visit the FDA’s page on women’s health: What issues characterize the women’s health debate today? From their list of topics, does any specific issue stand out to you as most pressing? How has the women’s health debate evolved since Mosher’s time? Which women’s health topics are most important to both young and older women today?