My interpretation of this old photo was somewhat different than the suggested themes. My initial reaction was 'working women'. In an era when most women were expected to marry and have children, those hardy women who chose the career path were often derided and thought to be 'strange'.
There weren't many career choices at the time either. Girls could go into service, work in factories and shops, become nurses or teachers or work in offices and banks. The majority married and depending on their socio-economic status did some degree of work at home for their families.
How times have changed. I had 3 great aunts, all of whom chose to continue into tertiary studies and become teachers. One of them married and combined a teaching career with motherhood - a very large family as well. The other two remained unmarried and continued to be very highly respected and well loved teachers here in Adelaide.
My great aunt Miss (Frau) Laura Heyne is on the far right. I'm not sure what shool this is, but the photo was taken in 1900. The children all look fairly well dressed - I just love the dresses the girls are wearing.
My aunt went on to become Senior Mistress in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Adelaide Boys High School - a rare achievement for a woman. Among her Matriculation Chemistry students were Sir Howard Florey (of penicillin fame) and Sir Marcus Oliphant who was involved in the development of the atomic bomb among other things