Women and the American Dream: Not Successful So Far

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Since the first colonist stepped onto the shores of what would become the United States there has been a belief that life would be better, freer, and with boundless opportunity. The concept of the “American Dream” has changed over time, and means very different things members of different subgroups in the population. This is especially true for ethnic groups and for women. For the purposes of this paper, the “American Dream” is defined as, the ability for all individuals to have equal access to achieve success without restrictions. Specifically, this paper will look at whether women are able to achieve the “American Dream.” The paper will look at three key areas, 1. job types, 2. wages, and 3. entrepreneurship.


While poor women have always worked outside the home, it was only during WWII that the majority of American women joined the work force. After the war, most of those women returned to their pre-war lives, but women’s employment levels never dropped to pre-war levels. Since the late-1960s, women’s labor force participation has continued to increase with the exception of small declines during economic downturns and recessions (Juhn & Potter, 2006). However, all jobs are not created equal, and the majority of women continue to be confined to lower “women’s” work. Chart 1 illustrates that in 2012 most of these jobs, even those with relatively high incomes such as nursing, teaching, first-line supervisors of offices and administrative …, secretaries and administrative assistants, remain “care giving” professions. Over time, women have made their way into employment in management, professional, and related occupations. However, their representation with the occupations varies widely. In 2011, only 14 percent of ...

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