Throughout time the perspective of women constantly changed. During the Middle Ages woman's pureness and chasity was the only way of life. With the Christian Church as dominant at this time the only options women had were to bear children or devote yourself to God. But as time continued women found ways around the social and physical restraints posed by the church and man. Many women found there way into the art scene by using the church becoming artistic nuns. Despite biblical teachings against the women of the Middle Ages during the 15th century in Bruges, Belgium porduced 25% female membership of illuminators guilds. Art became a strict subject in churches ever since. (Guerilla Girls 19)
Thanks to Queen Victoria's reign during the 19th century a relief came for women in 1837. When women had a few rights, Victorian homes daily maintenance, motherhood, and managerial tasks were to much to handle throughout the day. Jobs as servants and governesses came into existence giving Middle and Upper class women a break they took on art which also made them (servants, governesses) the new subject of art.
In comparison from the 19th century to the Middle Ages Joan of Arc was a cross dresser whom led soldiers into battle and won while Rosa Bonheur had a permit from a doctor to dress in that manner. Women and slaves were illiterate and forbidden to be taught to paint while in the 19th century Edmonia Lewis was considered an exotic oddity because she was a mixed African American being capable of doing the artwork she has done.As time continues to grow so shall the women of life. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/womenempowerment/overview.html