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Women in 1930's America

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Natasha Miller

on 3 March 2013

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Transcript of Women in 1930's America

Male Expectations and family life By Millie Page, Sarah Hunt, Lauren Eckley and Natasha Miller (1) Women in 1930s America Education Opportunities The 1930s was an uncertain time for public education in America. With money in short supply parents were unable to provide their children with the necessary clothes and textbooks. With the loss of revenue, school boards were forced to try numerous strategies to keep their districts operating. School terms were shortened and Teachers' salaries were cut. A rural county in Arkansas was forced to charge tuition one year so they could keep schools open, and some children were forced to drop out for that year.
The famous Dick and Jane books that taught millions of children to read were first published in 1931. These books introduced the students to reading with only one new word per page and a limited vocabulary per book.
However the Depression era prompted increasing numbers of women to pursue new avenues of education that had previously been unavailable, and had seemed unlikely and unpopular for their gender. Prior to the Depression, many women did not pursue higher education by enrolling in college courses.
A woman had to get a full education to be equal to a male who only graduated from elementary school.
During the 1930s, the percentage of master's degrees and doctorates earned by women dropped significantly, while female university education increased substantially. Women's Rights Thank you for listening! Women's Employment After the Great Depression women's employment problems became worse, but the different families still got by their daily means. One would get married to a man who has a good enough job to fend for themselves, this can be (for example) $20 per week. Women had to stay in their household and do all the daily chores, they were the housewives after all.
Even with this downfall of the economic crisis, employment was much easier for women in the 1930s, but a high rate were unemployed, this number was over two million.
If the women were either single, divorced or a widow, they would have to make their own money for their family. This included low-paid jobs, such as sewing and production of toys ($5 per week), and also some committed to prostitution (this meant that they were selling their bodies to needful men).
African-American women had a harder time searching for jobs they lost, this is because their positions as servants were replaced by unemployed white women. They had to go on street corners so they can be seen to get simple lower-paid jobs. But in 1937, 25% of the women were given government relief payments. In the 1930's many women were typically seen as the housewives who cooked, cleaned and looked after the children. They were also expected to dress well and to look their best for their husbands. Women in the 1930s came up with remarkable ways to keep their families going during The Great Depression. They helped their families get by on less and maximized every opportunity to save money. For example, they bought yesterday's bread, which was cheaper and used old fabric or blankets to line old coats; as well, Women cut up adult clothing to fit their children. Women were expected to follow stricter moral and behavioural codes than men and to never disobey their husbands.
To be the perfect housewife was top priority throughout the entire popular press and popular culture. To be a housewife was one of the few things which a woman could be, but this was also a thing considered of greatest importance for social prosperity.
The Great Depression was hard on the family. It served to reinforce the traditional gender roles with women as homemakers if the husband was employed; however many men suffered losses of income and unemployment. Some families pulled together during the hard time while others fell apart. Traditional roles started to change when men found themselves unemployed and had to rely on their wives or children. Being employed increased their power at home and decision-making. Women's rights in the 20th century were significantly improved by their right to vote. In 1920, it was agreed by sufficient states that sex-based restrictions on voting should be not be prohibited. After this was ratified, the logic went, that women now had equal rights to men. However, this was not the case as coloured women were still being discriminated against in almost every sector of society. Furthermore, women did not have equality when it came to employment and job opportunities, as many jobs were forbidden for women to undertake. But still, women tried to gain support for equal rights in the work place and political equality. Due to the Great Depression this became less of a priority in America, as the population were more concerned with their economic problems.
Eleanor Roosevelt did a lot throughout her career to help the rights of women. She worked with the league of Women Voters, the Women's Division of the New York Democratic Party and the Women's Trade Union League. She was a very influential women's rights activist during the 20th century.
By the 1930's, women were slowly beginning to have more rights, but no significant changes were made because of America's difficult economic times.
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