The Changing Role of Women in 1920s

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A woman of 1920 would be surprised to know that she would be remembered as a "new woman." Significant changes for women took place in politics, at home, in workplace, and in education.

POLITICAL CHANGE: Many women believed that it was their right and duty to take a serious part in politics. When passed in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote but surprisingly, some women didn't want the vote. A widespread attitude was that women's roles and men's roles did not overlap, this idea of "separate spheres" held that women should concern themselves with home, children, and religion, while men took care of business and politics. North Carolina opponents of woman suffrage claimed that "women are not the equal of men mentally" and being able to vote "would take them out of their proper sphere of life." Though slow to use their newly won voting rights, women were represented on local, state, and national political committees. More emphasis began to be put on social improvement, such as protective laws for child labor and prison reform. Women active in politics in 1929 still had little power, but they had begun the journey to actual political equality.

HIGH SCHOOL: With regard to education, North Carolina's female high school students seldom expected to go to college. If they did, they usually attended a private college or Woman's College in Greensboro, where there were no male students. Most of the Woman's College students became teachers or nurses, as these were considered suitable professions for women.

COLLEGE: The University of North Carolina opened housing to female graduate students in 1921, but they were not made welcome. The student newspaper headlined, "Women Not Wanted Here." Few North Carolina women earned degrees during the 1920s. But times were changing, and each year more women earned college degrees.

NORTH CAROLINA'S WOMEN: At the beginning of the decade until the 1940s, most North Carolina women lived in rural areas...
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