For many of the American history, women were not considered equal to men and were denied equality in many areas in life. In the 19th century women had no legal identity, apart from their husband. Married women could not hold property in their own names, make contracts, sit on a jury, write a will, or vote. Nor did women have the same opportunities for education and careers that men had. Yet, many women found ways to show their intelligence, courage, and leadership. In the 20th century, women in most states won the right to vote and increased their education and job opportunities.
Since early 19th century women have been underestimated by men. Women were longed considered weaker than men. They were unable to perform work requiring muscular or intellectual development. A lower-class woman job included working for higher class families doing household duties, such as cleaning and cooking. Unable to afford help in the house they were responsible of their household duties. Traditionally, a middle-class girl would tend to learn from her mother’s examples. Cooking, cleaning, and caring for children was the behavior expected of her when she grew up.
A lot was expected from these women, and they were often tired and sick. An upper-class married woman, after having everything as a child, is to be responsible of her own household and slave plantation. Different from the lower-class, the upper-class could afford a slave that was needed to help with house duties. “Upper-class women responsibilities involved; running a slave plantation, being a nurse to the slaves, making the slaves clothes, overseeing the food preparation, and supervising the work plans. ”(Women in 19th) Most women were excluded from most jobs.
The 20th century produced dramatic changes and opportunities for women. The success of many manufacturing wholesale trade, banking, and services depended on women and grew rapidly. During WWI, many women were government used as a political tool, enfranchising army nurses and female relatives of soldiers serving overseas in order to secure an election victory. Securing a job was only the first step in the right direction for women, soon after they aimed for the right to vote. “Women won the right to vote on August 26, 1920, but this long fight wasn’t easily achieved.
It formally began 72 years earlier at the Seneca Falls Convention, organized by Elizabeth Cady and Lucretia Mott. ”(Dougas, 1999) During that time the suffrage movements in the United States were large and vigorous. After the Union winning the Civil War, women hoped their hard work would result in suffrage for women as well as for blacks. But the blacks were granted citizenship and suffrage, not to women. The struggle to win the vote was slow and frustrating. “Wyoming Territory in 1869, Utah Territory in 1870, and the states of Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896 granted women the vote but the Eastern States resisted. (WIC, 1994) Many Organizations were created that develop many meetings to help gain rights for women. The National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) came about after Elizabeth and Lucy Stone uniting their groups.
Although they have not accomplished their goal, they continued to fight. “In 1907 international socialism decided to support women’s suffrage. Since bans against female party membership existed within most traditional political parties, Socialists, having to organize women separately from me, manage to create successful oriented movements in some countries. (Women’s Suffrage, 1996) Many other conventions and associations were form to help women to gain their rights. As the years advanced, women grew stronger and did not give up.
Although they achieved the voting rights, they continued struggling to gain equal participation in political office alongside men. Winning the right to vote inspired the younger generation of women to go to school and gain the knowledge needed for a better life style. “Test made in the 1860’s that the scholastic achievement of girls was higher in the early grades than in high school. (WIC, 1994) This was caused by the lack of ambition given to the girls. Teachers and family did not expect the girls to achieve any educational skills.
She was to anticipate in marriage and motherhood. Other girls who went to school were lucky, but not only because there was room for them. Generally, schools were open to girls during the summer. Summer was when the boys were working. However, colleges were still full of boys and very little of girls. Due to the Civil War an increase demand for higher education for women was needed.
The reason of an eruption in the numbers of women entering higher education was the returning veterans and the later the baby boom. “During the 1960’s and 1970’s, due to social and legislative changes, several intuitions of higher education that had been previously all-male open doors to women. ” (Harwarth) Numerous institutions and private schools became available to women. Men and women had arguments on the separation of genders but later the school converted to a coeducational public institution. After many disagreements and protests, women can now earn a degree alongside men who can no longer interfere with their education.
The 19th and 20th century had different roles for women in the Unites States. In both centuries, women had to work hard to gain equality. Although women accomplished many goals, they still continue to strive for new ambitions, such as jobs. Women had the desire to vote and have equal rights with men, this gave them much respect. They were giving respect by having women institutions and public schools that directed them to join men. There will never be an ending to the equality between women and men. The competition among the two will always be there.
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