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How the position of women in society has changed since 1900

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Conor Fleming

on 24 February 2014

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Transcript of How the position of women in society has changed since 1900

At the start of the Twentieth Century, women had a very stereotypical role in society. If they were married, they stayed at home to look after the children while their husband worked and brought in the weekly wage. If single, they did work which usually involved some form of service such as working as a waitress, cooking etc.
The role of women in the 1930's is that of the homemaker and mother. The Great Depression caused a number of people to lose work, but women were still discouraged from being able to work to support their family during such a difficult time. In the 1930's many women started to go against the grain and step outside of the typical role of women.

Significant changes for women took place in politics, the home, the workplace, and in education. Some were the results of laws passed, many resulted from newly developed technologies, and all had to do with changing attitudes toward the place of women in society. The most far-reaching change was political. Many women believed that it was their right and duty to take a serious part in politics. They recognized, too, that political decisions affected their daily lives.
Despite the activities of the Suffragettes and the support of the Labour Party and some members of the Liberal Party, women still had very few rights in 1900 and certainly no political rights. In fact, the activities of the Suffragettes actually lost the support of many people, including women, who viewed what they did with shock.
Women began to rebel against marriage--and even against men. Others were reforming education. The militant movement were physically fighting for the vote. These women stormed the House of Commons, heckled cabinet ministers, broke windows and went to prison. This ingenuity and daring of the suffragettes exploded gender stereotypes. The bravery of the suffragettes won them admiration, not only from women, but from men too.
How the position of women in society has changed since 1900
Still 1900
Life for women was expanding, the men were at war and some one had to step up and take the mens' place. Not only men were going to war either, the war was so big that in 1942 The Women's Army Corps (WAC) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES) were established.
Women’s roles were greatly changed in the 1950s, with the men coming back from war and taking their jobs back. After the war, many women wanted to keep their jobs. Many of them became wives and mothers as the men came back from the war. In 1957, 70% of working women held clerical positions, assembly lines or service jobs. 12 % held a profession and 6% held management positions. Those that held professional jobs worked as nurses and teachers. They found themselves taking care of the house and of their children.
The women’s liberation movement of the 1960s helped lots of changes to come about through the movement's scores of policies and radical ways of thinking. In fact, to illustrate some of these radical ways of thinking, some extremist women made a “Freedom Trash Can” and filled it with representations of women trapped in the home. They threw objects like heels, bras, girdles, hair curlers, and magazines like Cosmo and Ladies’ Home Journal in it. The women who put the Trash Can together planned to set it on fire, but decided not to do so because burning of the contents prohibited a city law. Nevertheless, given the numerous obstacles put in place to stop women from changing their status in society, the women’s movement of the 1960s made significant changes for women in regards to basic rights, in the home and in the workplace for the better.
In the 1970’s, this was a time where people were getting to the end phase of the “hippie” era. In this era, people were also opposing the use of nuclear weapons, proposing world peace, and women gained the right to have abortions. Women were receiving more rights than they had in the past. With even the smallest gain of rights for women comes with reward of a new role in society. Most women in the 1970’s were striving for a footprint in society and wanted to achieve more than just the standard household position. Women were fighting for the right of equality as men. This equality they were striving for would enable them to work in offices, classrooms, law firms, and science labs.
Women were beginning to be influential in their own right, not just as extensions of their husbands' power and prestige. In Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher, continued to wield power that extended throughout the world. She was the first female leader of a western country, and served as a role model for young women everywhere. Because of her strong leadership and opposition to communism, she earned the nickname "The Iron Lady." Educational opportunities for young women continued to expand. By 1984, 49% of undergraduate college degrees were being awarded to women. Also, by the mid-1980s women were earning 49% of all master's degrees and about 33% of all doctoral degrees. However, as in the past, only a few women were working in the fields of physical sciences, engineering, agriculture and law.
This was a decade of women reaching the top. Tracy Edwards captained the first, all-woman team in the Whitbread round the world yacht race. Britain's first astronaut, a woman, went to space. In the Armed Forces women could go to sea, and join regular army regiments, although they were still restricted from carrying guns. After sixty years of resistance the Church of England finally allowed women to become priests. The first woman speaker in the House of Commons was elected in 1992
These days, women and men are seen as equals, although there does still exist some sexism in a few people. Although men still usually do "heavy" jobs (such as building), women are free to have any career they want (except being a male model!).
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