Women in American History
American History Since 1865
09, February, 2013
Women in America have had several different roles among society. Some women have had worse roles than others depending race, and ethnicity. No matter the background, marital status, or social position women in general strived for better lives. Women wanted more freedom to voice their own minds, opinions, and expectations. As the years passed new opportunities came along to help women with the things they worked for. This included everything from voting rights, equal pay, and more rolls in society other than being house wives. Women in all forms fought and struggled to achieve several different goals that affected women in general.
For most of American history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. This can also be said for white American women to African-American women. The first major milestone was in the 20th century when women in most nations won the right to vote. During this time they also increased their education and job opportunities. In early attitudes towards women was basically a creative source of human life. While women were considered a major source of temptation and evil, the Roman Empire described women as children, forever inferior to men.
In the 1800s a woman’s role in society was solely taking care of house hold chores. This was because women were long considered naturally weaker than men. It was thought that women were unable to perform work that required extensive muscular or intellectual development. Preindustrial societies often failed to notice domestic chores such as caring for children, milking cows, and washing clothes were not much different than hunting and plowing fields. Women during these times were expected to learn the traditional ways from their mothers such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. This was a prime example of the stereotype “A woman’s place is in the home”. It was not until the late 19th century that women started leaving the home to work for pay. Normally this was in textile factories or garment shops. (Women’s International Center)
One of the biggest obstacles women had to face since the turn of the 20th century was equal opportunities in the work place. In recent years research has shown that white American women are now more likely to be employed than African-American women or Latino women. Between the 1960s and 1990 employment between Latino and African-American women decreased dramatically. (Women International Center, 1995) This actually was not always the case, in fact in much of U.S history African-American women had higher employment rates that white women. Women in the late 20th century that were of more privileged racial/ethnic, national origin and education were more likely to work for pay. Most white women married men who worked thus becoming housewives, and having children. (Women International Center, 1995) In 1970 women were paid forty percent less than men even though they were doing the same jobs. By 1989 women had constituted more than forty five percent of employed persons. Yet even with these numbers they still only had a small portion of decision-making jobs. Women had to deal with a lot of problems in the working places other than low wages such as longer hours, unsafe working conditions and discrimination based on just being a woman. (Women’s International Center, 1995)
In the late 19th century forty percent of African-American women were in the labor force while only sixteen percent of white women were working for pay. This was thought to be because most African-American women had to work to help their husbands provide for their families. White women usually had husbands who had jobs that provided enough income. Even in the 1950s African-American women were still ahead with thirty eight percent. White women only rose to twenty nine percent. By this time white women were starting to...
References: A&E Television Networks: Women in the Civil War. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com/topics/women-in-the-civil-war
England, P, Garcia-Beaulieu, C, Ross, M (2004) Women 's Employment among Blacks, Whites, and Three Groups of Latinas: Do More Privileged Women Have Higher Employment? Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4149447
Murray, P (year unknown) “The Bottom of the Economic Totem Pole”: African American`Women in the Workplace retrieved from: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6472
The Roaring Twenties. Retrieved from: http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=36218&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref
Steinem, G (year unknown) “All Our Problems Stem from the Same Sex Based Myths”: Gloria Steinem Delineates American Gender Myths during ERA Hearings Retrieved from: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/7025
World War II: The World at War. Retrieved from: http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=36221&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=
Women 's History in America: Presented by Women 's International Center. Retrieved from: http://www.wic.org/misc/history.htm
Women’s Fight for the Vote: The Nineteenth Amendment. Retrieved from: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/nineteentham.htm
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