The texts written for the instruction of women in ancient China are some of the earliest examples of didactic sources aimed at a female readership to be produced anywhere in the world. The oldest surviving texts in the transmitted tradition date to the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). However, in 2010, Peking University acquired a cache of manuscripts written on bamboo, one of which, the Jiaonü (Instructions to women), predates these Han dynasty admonitions texts by several centuries. This paper provides a full translation of this important text, a discussion of the historical and cultural context in which it was produced, and examines its relationship with the later similar works in the transmitted tradition. The Jiaonü throws new light on the way in which women were educated in appropriate gender roles in ancient China.