Womens Role In The Economy

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Womens Role In The Economy “The Transfer of Women’s Work from the Home to the Market” “The transfer of women’s work from the household to commercial employment is one of the most notable features of economic development” (Lewis, Historical Perspectives on the American Economy P. 550). In colonial America there was a distinct sexual division of labor. Men were property owners and heads of households. A man’s responsibilities included staple crop farming, hunting, and skilled craftsmanship in order to produce commodities for market (An Economic History of Women in America Pp. 30-33). Women were responsible for a variety of different jobs. In the home and the fields women ensured the survival of the family. They were responsible for child rearing, housework, food processing, cloth and clothing manufacture, candle and soap making, household furnishings, and farm chores (EHWA P. 31). A few unmarried women would work outside the home as domestics or farm servants. Women would also handle the sale of handicrafts and household manufacture. In the early nineteenth century only a very small fraction of women in the United States worked in the agricultural, industrial, and service areas of the market sector. Wages of women relative to those of men were exceptionally low within the area of agriculture. With the spread of industry, relative wages for women increased, and their employment appeared to be linked to the technological advances of the factory system. As the country became more industrialized, more women began to work outside the home, in factories and in the clerical sector, and their wages began to increase relative to the wages of men. Late in the nineteenth century there was a rising demand for clerical workers. By 1890, only 18.2% of adult women participated in the labor market. Of that 19%, 40.5% were single women (aged between fifteen and twenty-four). Only 4.6% were married women. (HPAE P. 560) It was not until the twentieth century that married women entered the labor force in any substantial way. They first entered the labor force in the 1920’s when they were young, and later in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in their post-child-rearing years. There have been important gains in the participation of married women in the labor force, with particular age groups, or cohorts, affected during particular decades. I... ... middle of paper ... ...ed women in America’s past frequently came from an economic necessity, but it has also implied economic autonomy. The rise of economic independence for women has resulted in many social and societal changes such as the formation of wider and less family-dependant social networks, a greater chance for marital dissolution, and the possibility of less constrained and structured gender roles (HPAE P. 571). Today, there are almost as many women in the work force as there are men. It is now a rarity for a woman to work exclusively within the home. In our current economy it is almost a necessity for both the man and woman to work outside the home in order for the household to survive. It was interesting to learn about the economic factors affected women’s participation in the work force in the past and relate that to women’s role in the work force today. Bibliography: Matthaei, Julie A. An Economic History of Women in America: Women’s Work, the Sexual Division of Labor, and Development of Capitalism. New York: Schocken Books, 1982. Whaples, Robert and Betts, Dianne C. Historical Perspectives on the American Economy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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