The place of women in the workplace has changed drastically since the 1880s. In today society women are said to be equal, but this was certainly not the case in previous centuries. Changing career roles have changed the status of women in society. In the 19th century, women's roles were drastically different from what they are today. Women's roles in the Western world during the 1800s were highly controlled and directed by men.
A woman's ultimate purpose back when my grandmother was born was to find a man to marry, and then reproduce. If a woman chose to remain single, she could be ridiculed as an "old maid” or “trash” and become an outcast to the city or town. Underclass women had a rugged appearance, and often wore dirty clothes with messy hair. They had no education or respectable job and relied on relief organizations for survival. When this was not enough, some resorted to prostitution to earn a living, as there were no other jobs available. Their lifestyle was a result of their collective lack of jobs, family inheritance and financial support. Most women were in the lower working class. Like underclass women, their lifestyle and income did not permit them to dress elegantly, and they often wore dirty and old clothing. They had no inheritance in most cases, and some started working as early as 8 years old. These women's jobs included domestic servant, farm worker, tailor and washerwoman. Lower working class women not only had to work their low paying jobs, but they were also expected to be mothers and housekeepers. The 19th century's most prestigious female class dressed elegantly, often covered in lace, corsets, veils and gloves. These women usually had an inheritance passed down, and wealthy men often courted them. They generally did not work, and while women weren't usually allowed to receive an education, upper working-class women sometimes received a general education of reading, writing and arithmetic. In the case that a woman had an education, she may have taken a position as a governess or lady's companion. The modern workplace from the late 18th century to about 1930 was typically a man's world with few exceptions. In 1870, female clerks accounted for 2.5 percent of the workforce, rising to 53 percent in 1930. Female clerk typists rose from 5 to 96 percent during the same period. Minorities, typically African-Americans, were segregated to work in the service industry, such as servants, porters and manual labor, according to early office museum.com.
Diversity in the workplace in the United States was virtually non-existent for the first 150 years after the country's founding. World War I, the 1920s Jazz Age and a stronger voice among minority workers slowly changed the workplace from a white male domain to better reflect a multicultural society. Still, the passage of federal laws and the formation of activists groups have not guaranteed racial and gender equality in the workplace. Women gained a foothold in the American workplace when men went to war in 1917. They also gained valuable training through Red Cross work. When World War I ended, women returned home but they possessed new skills. The 1920s flapper era and the depiction of strong women in movies opened possibilities for women, according to infoplease.com. The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor was formed in 1920 to safeguard women in the workplace. The National Council of Negro Women was founded in 1935 to lobby Congress against racism, sexism and job discrimination. Women returned to the workplace in great numbers during World War II to fill the void by departing servicemen. They worked in aircraft factories, the management level in industry and flew aircraft as test pilots. Most women lost their jobs to returning GIs, but the workplace was forever changed as women demanded jobs in corporate America, but President Harry Truman integrated the U.S. military in 1948, sparking mass change in the workplace, according to redstonearmy.mil....
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