American Civil Right: Women

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Right, these notes are here as an aid to your revision for the topic on Women's Civil Rights in America between 1865 and 1992. The beauty of questions on this topic, like the Melting Pot questions, is that you can use information from other topics such as African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans to compare the treatment of these groups to that of White women. For example the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave white women the vote but women from the ethnic minorities still could not vote until the 1960's. I apologise if it seems a bit like an essay but Women encompasses elements from all the topics.

Attitudes at the beginning of the period meant that single women could only do certain jobs such as nursing, domestic service and factory work. Married women were expected to stay at home and were even banned from jobs. Throughout the period women have been seen as the home maker and have often faced difficultly getting jobs they are qualified for and in many cases have found themselves paid less then men in a similar position. Equality in the workplace was difficult to achieve as the belief of a woman being the homemaker was a long held belief. Even with the increased opportunity for education extended to women, many saw education as part of preparation for motherhood at the beginning 1900's. However education opened the door to new professions such as teachers, telephone operators and secretaries which were jobs that had always been done by men. By 1920 3.4 million women were employed as teachers, telephone operators, librarians and secretaries but the world of work was still dominated by Men.

Advances in technology in the 1900's and the boom years also allowed women more free time. The increasing number of Consumer goods such as fridges, central heating and washing machines meant that women had a freedom to use there time more freely as they were not taken up by household chores. This allowed women to educate themselves and take part time work. The fact that women tended to take part time work opposed to full time work was also another factor hindering equality in the workplace.

However not all women in America had the same experience. Race, location and social status all had an impact on how they were treated in the early period. In the south, particularly in the Bible Belt, women were less inclined or encouraged to get a job or educate themselves further then was 'necessary'. Race discrimination was a universal problem whether you male or female however the fact still remains many employers would rather employ a man then women, so many women in ethnic minorities had less opportunity for employment than white women. Social status was also a factor as many middle class women were better educated then those who were poor or had less opportunity to further their education. This reduced job opportunities for those from lower income backgrounds increasing the social divides between the wealthy…


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