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Flashcards in 1915-1940 Deck (14)
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1

How did the First World War impact women

- WW1 opened up the opportunity for women to enter the workforce

- Industrial expansion during WW1 meant that job opportunities increased especially for African-American
women

- However, Americas entry into the war further increased the demand for labour to include many married
women for the first time – particularly in agriculture and heavy industry

- Approximately 11 thousand women served in the Navy and nurses and telephone operators – 21, 500 U.S
Army nurses who served in military hospitals

- More than a Million women worked in industry between 1917 and 1918

- Many earned good wages for the first time, though less than the men they’d replaced for doing the same
work

2

How did the economic boom of the 1920s impact women

- The economic boom of the 1920s created more jobs for unmarried women and made the lives of married women
easier.
- The number of working class married women in the workforce also increased from 22.8% to 28.8% who now
worked as typists or secretaries
- More than 2 million women entered the workforce in this period in offices and factories

Yet…

- Nevertheless, any lasting change that might have come about in the position of married women was insufficiently
significant to substantiate any claim that the war can be seen as a turning point

- Though they continued to enter low level professions such as social work and teaching as law and medicine
were limited by male-centric colleges

- Women still faces discrimination and in industry men were harshly opposed to women working

- Working were a threat to the jobs of men and were exposed to low wages and poor working conditions

3

What is the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex.

It seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters.

Originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman.

4

Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

- The most extreme opposition came from rights wing ant-feminist groups who opposed equal rights and actively
campaigned against the feminist movement using propaganda that portrayed them as spinsters and lesbians

- Some of these formed an auxiliary branch of the Ku Klux Klan to promote anti-feminism, the WKKK (Women’s Ku
Klux Klan)

5

Changes in social reform

- Other groups concentrated on specific social reforms
- Their leaders, e.g. Jane Addams continued to campaign for essential legislation to regulate working hours and
conditions from women, to abolish child labour and to improve living conditions for poor families
- Educated black American women such as Mary Talbert led campaigns against lynching

However...

- Even female social reformers had philosophical disagreements about what equality for women actually meant
- Some argued that legislation that protected women or created special conditions form them in the workplace,
only served to emphasise their difference and, implicitly their weakness in comparison with men

6

Impacts of social reform on legislation

- Success in the sphere of social legislation was very limited

• A women’s Bureau strove to improve working conditions but met resistance from some employers and male
labour unions

• The Shepard-Towner Act (1921) funded maternity and infant health education but was terminated in 1929, it had
been resisted by the medical profession

• Legislation to introduce an eight-hour day for women was overthrown by the Supreme Court in 1922 after
concerted pressure from big business

7

What was the new feminist movement of the 1920s

- In the affluent context of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ there emerged an identifiable group of, typically young upper –
or middle-class women, who ostentatiously threw off the standards and norms of their mothers and
grandmothers

- Characterised by their bobbed hair, short clothes and sometimes outrageous and frequently promiscuous
behaviour

- The ‘flappers’ as they came to be known, searched, largely unsuccessfully, to find a new identity

- They were the only united by their determination to rebel and even then, compromised only a relatively small
proportion of the privileged, female population

- Few other went beyond copying the hairstyles and the fashion

- In sum, there was little erosion, during this period, of the acceptance of ‘separate spheres’.

8

Growth of violence

- Illegal importation and production of alcohol and consumption in speakeasies contributed to the growth of
racketeering, prostitution and drug trafficking

- Law enforcement was paralysed

- Violence had become a way of life

- The willingness of all classes to blatantly flaunt the law provided young people with poor role models for
acceptable adult behaviour

9

Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR)

- Formed in 1929 – led by Pauline Sabin
- Had supported prohibition but defected as she was convinced of its failures
- Many women were also disillusioned and the WONPR appealed to them
- By 1931 had 1.5 million members nationwide – biggest groups pressing for repeal
- NB Sabin and other frequently subjected to abuse from women of temperance movement
- Women also notice the wealth, privilege and power of women involved in WONPR

Success of WONPR?

- Used campaign of protection of home and family had husbands who were already member so not an argument
of personal freedom
- Prohibition had promoted rather than prevented excessive drinking
- Pointed out failure of prohibition to attract women to the cause
- Gained allies in the ranks of the Democrats and Republicans
- However, they did nothing really to advance the causes of working class women

10

How did the Great Depression impact women

- The Great Depression of 1929 meant that opportunities for women receded. The Gallop Poll of 1936 showed
82% of Americans resented women working. 26 states introduced laws which banned married women from
working

- Female labour was considered cheap and inexpensive during the GD and this meant that women were exploited
even more and made the lives of working class married women who were the sole breadwinners immensely
hard

11

How did President Roosevelt's New Deal impact Women

-President Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ from 1933 tried to alleviate the problems of America but this was not directly
targeted in favour of women.

- The Social Security Act alleviated family stress by giving benefits to married women but
not especially for them.

-The Aid to Dependent Children Act 1935 helped women and young families but aid was mostly given to white
women

- The Fair Labor Standards Act 1938 tried to set new minimum wages levels but women still earned 20% less than
men. Though it did not abolish child labor and established the right to join trade unions

- Other women such as African Americans weren’t covered by the ND and thus continued to suffer prejudice and
discrimination.

- On the other hand, NAI women benefited under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1933 which gave
them more work opportunities such as working in native arts and crafts

12

What political changes were there for women in the New Deal

- Politically, there were some advancements.

- Jeanette Rankin became the first women to take a seat in the House of Representatives in 1917 and there
were other opportunities to take public office.

- In 1939 only 9 women entered politics, notably Frances Perkins who became secretary of Labor in 1933.
Though, society regarded politics a ‘un-womanly’ thing

-The Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote over 21 but this was only for those who were naturalised, immigrant omen were disenfranchised.

- African American women faced intimidation and many women voted as their husbands did so there is
little evidence to suggest that the vote empowered women.

- Women did not have a united approach on how to use the vote and were divided in their approach to
make substantial change

13

What three central Act were passed under the New Deal

- Social Security Act
- Aid to dependent children Act
- Fair labour standards Act

14

How did number of women in the workforce change

- 11.7% to 15.2%