A Brief History of Working Women
“ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” commented Margaret Mead after a lifetime of observing diversity in cultures from around the world. After 150 years of fighting for equality among the sexes, people today have no idea of the struggle that women went through so that women of future generations could have the same privileges as men. Several generations have come since the women’s right movement and the women of these generations have different opportunities in family life, religion, government, employment, and education that women have fought for. The women’s rights movement began with a small group of people that questioned why human lives, especially those of women, were unfairly constricted. These women also worked deliberately to create a better world. In the reading a Brief History of working women, Sharlene Hesse-Biber and Gregg Lee Carter emphasized the different working roles among white women, Women of color, and Native American women. The reading also expressed the many roles that women possessed in the economic life. The article also reflects on the affect that history played in the eyes of white women. The book Working Women in America: Split Dreams, Hesse-Biber and Carter explain globalization and the relationship of women working in developing countries as well. The white women worked mainly in the home doing the normal such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children, they also did spinning and weaving they also made soap, lace, candles and shoes. If you were single women you lived with family members and held the job title as an assistant homemaker. And if you were married, the women’s work depended on the economic circumstances of their husbands. During this time the women’s job was to maintain the household chores, some women worked outside the home as innkeepers, nurses, teachers and landholders. Women who had jobs made 30 percent less than that of a white male and 20 percent less than a hired male. The white women were considered by the white men as being second-class citizens. The family was structured that the man is the head of the household, and the women being the obedient to men (Hesse-Biber, Cater). The women of color would be the slaves during this time period in which they would either be a house servant or would be in the field working the crops. On top of the work they did for their owner they also grew, prepared, and preserved foods. The childcare was a group effort, since the women were out working all day this was usually done by the grandmothers and old or disabled slaves. The slave’s extended family was often involved in the family life: they worked together to form a unity within their harsh slave conditions. The women of color suffered double oppression of sexism and racism, not only were they oppressed by the white men but also the white women. The welfare system forced “unattached” women into impossible jobs because their only other recourse was the state mental institution (Helmbold, 1989). The region of the country and the type of tribal society determined the Native American women’s role. Native American women played an important in the economic life of their communities. Their main responsibility was to raise the children and maintain the home; they usually owned the family’s housing and household goods. The men engaged in hunting, fishing and warfare and interacting with outsiders. Before the great depression, women mostly depended on the men for financial support. But with so many men gone to battle, women had to go to work to support themselves. With a patriotic spirit, women one by one stepped up to do a man’s work with little pay, respect or recognition. Labor shortages provided a variety of jobs for women, who later became streetcar conductors, railroad workers, and shipbuilders. Some...
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