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Gender Equality in the 1930s

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Amy Kim

on 29 April 2014

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Transcript of Gender Equality in the 1930s

Women in pop culture: Dance
After the start of the Great Depression in 1929, many people have lost their jobs and are experiencing the worst economic depression in American history. However, women have it worse than men. During the first 100 days of Roosevelt’s administration, he signed legislation to provide essential short-term remedies for Americans. However, these acts were geared toward male breadwinners, therefore doing little to bring women out of economic depression. Because of this, educator Mary McLeod Bethune and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt have started programs to address the needs of women. As an advocate, Eleanor Roosevelt is using her position as the first lady to grant White House access to female reporters, and has started a women's camp at Hyde Park. Her social activism and effect on women’s rights is so well known that many refer to the White House as Hull House on Pennsylvania Avenue. She will become an international leader in the human rights movement, serve in the newly created United Nations, and author the First International Declaration of Human Rights.

In the 1930's, dance was considered something that only men could be good at. Women were told that no matter how hard they tried, their dancing would never come close to the talent of men. However, women have since proved that stereotype to be false. In the 1930's a lot of new styles of dance were invented. A lot of different genres were blended, creating a whole new perspective on dance. Also, women started doing modern dance, otherwise known as interpretive dancing. Interpretive dancing is usually inspired by something in nature such as birds or trees, but can be inspired by other things too. Women would create interpretive dances about events/problems going on in the 30's, such as gender equality or racial equality.
Friday, April 24, 1939 $1.25
Allie Foster, Bihan Jiang, Amy Kim, Anne Li, Sarah Willis
Women in pop culture: Art
Gender Equality in the 1930s
Women are Stealing Our Jobs!
The shameful ruffians of our society have reached a new height! The wicked, greedy creatures known as women have been stealing our already scarce jobs. As the depression in our society continues, the breadwinners of the family, which are the
, continue to earn higher wages than the women, proving that they are more suitable for the jobs and providing for the family. Not only are women incompetent in the workforce, they are also failing to complete their domestic duties. How is a family expected to survive if the women are stealing our incomes and neglecting their duties?
As unemployment reaches an all-time high during the Great Depression, working women, particularly those who are married, are believed to be taking much-needed jobs away from the males. At the end of the 1930's, the majority of Americans still believe that women should remain within the domestic environment. Women who are working are often relegated to those jobs stereotypically designated as "women's work." In 1930, 24 percent of women were in the labor force, and in 1939 this number has jumped to 26 percent. The majority of working women are single, and most work in clerical positions or crafts; a minority earn credentials in various professions.

A painting done by Isobel Bishop
A woman and her children during the Great Depression.
Women in pop culture: Literature
In 1930, the first ever women were added to The National Institution for arts and letters: Margaret Deland, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Agnes Repplier, and Edith Wharton. The 30’s was also the first time a woman was awarded a Nobel prize for literature. Due to the Federal Writer’s project, 40% of writers at the end of the 30's were women. He also helped to employ many women who were jobless but had a talent for literature.
Female musicians had a hard time in the 1930's. Women already had a hard time making a living with music before the great depression, but once it struck, people stopped spending extra money on things like music, which made it twice as hard. Most females weren't even allowed to be in famous orchestras; they had to be in completely female orchestras. There were only a handful of women who were famous in the music industry, but even with all of the setbacks and limitations, women still pursued their love for music.
Eleanor Roosevelt (the first lady)
Women in pop culture: Music
Women in Pop Culture
American art nearly disappeared when the Great Depression struck. Before, women's artworks were already worth less than men's, so the effects of the Great Depression were extremely hard on female artists. The government started taking over art, and in 1933, the first government arts program was created. This program was extremely helpful for female artists, because hiring decisions were made without bias. A year later, the government used this form of hiring to commission murals and sculptures for federal buildings and offices. Famous artists such as Isobel Bishop, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Lucienne Bloch, and Lee Krasner all got their first commission through government programs like this. These kinds of programs brought more females into art, and a 1930’s census shows that 41% of the artists in the country were females. There were many more women art teachers than men; several women were even the head of some art departments! Most artists' works were very unique, and there wasn’t a solid pattern for artwork then. A lot of these famous female artists used their talents to support the cause of gender equality. For example, Isobel Bishop made a painting showing that the women who were hired into offices ended up only being secretaries to men. A lot of these women also used their talents to document some of the most horrific parts of the Great Depression. Not every women needed government help to become successful.
Fannie Peck founds The Detroit Black Women's Housewives' League.
The Detroit Housewives' League burns a huge meatpacking industry in protest of high prices, and they join thousands of Chicago housewives in a march that shuts down that city's entire meat industry
The Milestones of the 30s: A Recountance of Women's Exploits
The first big sit-down strike of a mainly female workforce with cigar workers in Detroit. Their grievances included working six and seven days a week for a small pay, poor ventilation causing women to faint, and inadequate toilet facilities.
Mar. 5
Strikers at two cigar plants lead a victory march of 1,000 people through the Polish community.
Mar. 20
Detroit Mayor Couzens launches a counterattack; the police break down the doors of the Bernard Schwarts, makers of R. G. Dunn cigars, and drag the fighting women out by their arms, clothing and hair.

Emma Tenayuca lead the 1938 pecan shellers strike. Mexican women worked up to 70 hours a week for only 30 cents a day picking nut meat from shells by hand. 147 shops were closed by the strike. These shops contained 12,000 workers produced 21 million pounds of shelled pecans per year. The one thousand strikers and supporters, including Tenayuca, were jailed.
Feb. 27
From a balcony of a store called Woolworth, an organizer for the hotel employees and restaurant employees blew a whistle and yelled, “Strike! Strike!” Immediately, women servers stopped serving and cash registers went silent.
Mar. 6
The women had won raises, seniority rights, shorter hours, company-provided uniforms and future hiring through the union from the Woolworth strike.
Gertrude Harvey, a famous pianist
Maragaret Deland, a famous author
After thirty-seven days the owners agreed to agreement. “What started out as an organization for equal wages turned into a mass movement against starvation, for civil rights, and for a minimum-wage law, which changed the character of West Side San Antonio," said Tenayuca.

“Her (Tenayuca) image—striding in front of a line of marchers or standing at a microphone shaking her fist as she stirred the strikers to struggle on—inspires the oppressed workers of San Antonio to this day.” -Workers World leader Teresa Gutierrez
A group of female tap dancers from the 30's
How Does Gender Inequality Relate to
To Kill a Mockingbird?

The most specific example of gender discrimination in the novel appears in Chapter 23.

Jem is angry that the jury has convicted Tom Robinson. Atticus attempts to explain the verdict to Jem. In that exchange, Jem asks Atticus "Why don't people like us and Miss Maudie ever sit on juries? You never see anybody from Maycomb on a jury- they all come from out in the woods." Atticus responds by saying "I was wondering when that’d occur to you...There are lots of reasons. For one thing, Miss Maudie can't serve on a jury because she's a woman!"

It is important to remember that Harper Lee set the novel in Maycomb, Alabama, during the mid- 1930s. Although racial discrimination dominates much of the novel, the prohibition against women sitting on juries is evidence of gender discrimination.

A somewhat less obvious form of gender discrimination is found in a number of instances when Scout is insulted by Jem for her status as a girl.

An example appears in Chapter 6, when Scout is reluctant to participate with Jem and Dill in their efforts to look into the Radley house to try to catch a glimpse of Arthur "Boo" Radley. When she expresses her reluctance, Jem insults Scout by yelling, "Scout, I’m tellin‘ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lord you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!"

This form of discrimination and stereotyping is painful for Scout who must face it from her own brother.

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To Kill a Mockingbird
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Work Cited
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