Essay on Sexual Division of Labor

Essay on Sexual Division of Labor

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The establishment of duties within a social group, based on gender, is known as the sexual division of labor. The early 20th century produced many surprising changes for the United States, providing similarities as well as differences in comparison to the mid-20th century regarding women in the workplace. The early 20th century ranges from the year 1901 to about 1933 and is known as a time of urban and industrial modernization, which brought forth many opportunities for women. However, this era brought forth many challenges as well, especially with women organization in unions. Women were faced with great opposition from their male counterparts. The mid- 20th century ranges from about 1934 to 1967 and gave rise to many social movements based off of the movements from the early 20th century. The transition of women in the work place moved from temporary, unorganized, unskilled and exploited workers in the early 20th century to permanent, educated, organized and protected workers in the mid-20th century. “When we stop asking why women have not organized themselves, we are led to ask how women were, and are, kept out of unions” (Kessler-Harris, 94).
The Cult of Domesticity rose hand-in-hand with the advancement of the American middle-class. Women of this time were expected to be selflessly emotional, morally pure and submissive in their roles as a mother and wife, while the husband supported his family financially as he was seen as intellectually superior. Although women gained moral authority, they were restricted to a life of economic dependence and limited role choices. Men typically condemned work outside of the home and expected a wife to provide a domestic refuge of purity and to devote her life to unpaid labor within the home....


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...n’s Bureau that legislation limiting long working hours for women should be imposed where and when the union is not strong enough to limit hours. In 1927, Fannia Cohn admitted that in the absence of unionization amongst women, it would be unwise to disagree with protective legislation.
“Limited labor-force opportunities, protective labor legislation and virtual exclusion from labor unions institutionalized women's isolation from the mainstream of labor” and confirmed the assumed role of women in society (Kessler-Harris, 105). Although it was acknowledged by many that the competition between men and women in the workplace was unhelpful for all workers and unreasonable, noneconomic arguments won out during the first two decades of the twentieth century which released some stress from women, but concurrently established their place in jobs most prone to exploitation.

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