Women and Labor essay

Ironically, women still do not have the same rights as men in the United States. At least in light of the fact that the 28th amendment to the Constitution, which ensures that everyone has the same rights regardless of gender, has not been ratified since it was first submitted in Congress by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman in the early 20th century. When Congress eventually ratified it in 1972 and forwarded it to the state legislatures for ratification, the triumph was narrow. However, only 35 of the requisite 38 states had ratified the law as of the term’s end. Since then, there is no likelihood that the 28th amendment will be adopted anytime soon. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to say that at this time women of the US lack of rights or face some inequality. Moreover, the States acquired the reputation of the country, where feminism succeeded in all aspects of our life. Still, there is room for discussion of how did women’s labor participation affected their social status over the years. How this status actually evolved to the one people of America can observe now. What were the trends in women labor and how those trends did influence women social status? Thus, the argument consists of how women’s labor trends evolved throughout the history of the United States and how it actually influenced the perception of women as a whole.
Early history
The United States was initially just a colony of the European countries and, thus, it firstly remained the European traditions and social standards of 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Only after declaring independence in 1776 the US began to set its own social, economic and political standards.

As for women and their place in society, it all combined with the European and Indian rules. First of all, women of the US discovered the new sources of wealth and power, but then they started to lose their autonomy and skills they initially had (Evans 32). The only skill most of the women remained is maintaining their houses, cornfields, and villages overall. This was because majority of working men had to travel a lot finding the way to feed their families (Kerber 150). On the other hand, there were Indian women, who were invaluable for most of the tribes and they managed to strengthened their social and economic bonds with men by managing livestock. It mostly included sheep and goats that were brought by Spanish colonists (Evans 34). Thus, the major trend in women labor observed during the early history of the United States was that they did not actually work, but rather maintained the achievements of their husbands. Specifically, women were not even considered as a labor force, because they were not even paid for the job. The only exception was Indian women, but this trend had not lasted for a long period of time, due to Indian-American wars that brought Indian tribes to the line of extinction.

Following this, women were not reviewed in the major spheres of labor until the beginning of 19th century. Women were noticed at textile factories, however, they were not allowed to obtain any supervising position nor being well paid. It is reported that the average women salary was lower than the lowest-paid man usually received (Working Conditions in Early Factories 1845). However, such inhuman conditions did not last that long. In 1836, the first women protest took place that resulted in establishing of Female Labor Reform Association run by Sarah Bagley. Her actions and efforts even resulted in the first ever public hearing regarding working conditions.
Regardless the working conditions women had, they still had a job and starting from the 19th century the new trend appeared. Employers experienced a lack of labor in almost all economic spheres, and women help was actually priceless at some point, although they were still heavily underpaid. Nevertheless, it was the time women become the actual labor force that could be hired.

20th century
As it was discussed before, Female Labor Reform Association has been successfully established, but it did not have the proper result in the 19th century. Only decades later women had a first chance to prove themselves as high-quality labor force. The First World War made quite a ‘favor’ for women of the US regarding labor force throughout the country. This ‘favor’ is well observed in the percentage of employed women in clerical and kindred occupations. For instance, in 1900 there were just 4.1% of all women employed there, while in 1920 there were 19.2% (England and Boyer, 309). Finally, women labor force evolved to the point, where women determined the field they were useful the most. Clerical work did not require certain skills nor college degree. Those jobs were available for all housewives, who never worked before. This absolutely new trend became so popular that the number of employed women kept increasing even after the war.

Besides the war, there was overall a huge demand for clerical labor as this was just the time when the office work became its rapid development. Subsequently, in 1920, a specially created department of Women’s Affairs at the Ministry of Labor began to take care of the affairs of women labor. Its function was to collect information and monitor conditions of work (England and Boyer 314).

Despite the fact women labor was in huge demand, by the middle of 20th century, the perception of women remained mostly the same as before: they were considered to be a stay-at-home housewife with no specific right to vote, work, debate etc. (although they formally had those rights). Nevertheless, the fight for women labor rights did bring its result. Specifically, in the 1960s the Congress ratified the law that forbids employers to underpay a worker based on her gender. Quite obviously that this law was released mainly to protect women from being underpaid just because of their gender (England and Boyer 323). Therefore, 20th century ended up with the fully evolved trend (that actually turned into usual lifestyle), where women labor became as valuable as men one. Moreover, women labor spread into all spheres of business that did not require physical force, although even there it was possible to find some part of employed women.

Studying the history of the struggle for women’s equality in the US and the evolution of their labor force, they often had to not only violate the traditions and public foundations but also to overcome their own personal complexes. Sooner or later, their activities were giving the expected result. The government meets their demands by adopting appropriate laws, business started to employ women on a regular basis, women labor began to spread out within one industry at first and then expand to the other ones. Subsequently, it is quite clear that starting from the 19th-century women made a huge step of being just housewives to fully independent participants of modern society in the US.
Works Cited
England, Kim, and Kate Boyer. “Women’s Work: The Feminization and Shifting Meanings of Clerical Work.” Journal of Social History, vol. 43, no. 2, Jan. 2009, pp. 307-340., doi:10.1353/jsh.0.0284.
Evans, Sara. The First American Woman. 1st ed., 1997.
Kerber, Linda. The Republican Mother and the Woman Citizen: Contradictions and Choices in Revolutionary America. 1st ed., 1998.
Working Conditions in Early Factories, 1845.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 10%
Total Price:
$10.99 $35.97
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price