history1 - History 152 Female ADE Between 1880 and 1940,...

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History 152 Female ADE Between 1880 and 1940, many factors influenced the possibility of economic opportunity for women industrial workers. These factors include, but are not limited to: conditions of industrial work, worker organizations, and government role. Although each area influenced economic opportunity for women in different ways, they all allowed women to advance somehow economically during that time period. In the pre-progressive era, the conditions of industrial work influenced the possibility of economic opportunity for female workers in many ways, both positive and negative. Employers began hiring whole families, instead of only the dominant male in the family. This labor system evolved due to certain jobs being restricted to women, such as nursing, office work, and work in textile mills. Some jobs that were previously held by all males in the late 1800s became strictly women’s positions by the turn of the century, as well. For example, telephone operators were generally teenage boys in the 1870s, but more and more females increasingly became telephone operators. By the year 1900 the position was considered a woman’s job (Hen 520). Because of this change in the labor system, over four million women worked for wages in 1900, and they made up a quarter of the labor force that played
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a vital part in the industrial economy (Hen 519). A majority of these women in the work force were young and unmarried. This was due to the beliefs about women at the time. Married women, especially white women, were expected to stay in the home to work on housework and to raise the children. Women were viewed as inferior to men at this time, and therefore were not allowed to earn comparable wages to men, nor were they allowed to hold any position that was considered to be a man’s job. Men were paid a “family wage,” which was supposed to do exactly what it states: take care of the whole family. The concept of a family wage for men made it unnecessary for married women to work, which is why most of the women in the work force at this time were young and single. Because women were considered the weaker sex, they were paid significantly less than males. The wage for women factory workers during this time period was approximately $7 a week, $5 below the average of male factory workers (Hen 521). Although working conditions for women were extremely poor and limited their opportunity for economic advancement, women were beginning to become a part of the work force and be more independent from men. Along with the conditions of industrial work, worker organizations influenced the possibility of economic opportunity for female workers at the turn of the century.
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In the late 19 th century, labor unions became a popular way for workers in similar fields to form a sense of community. The Knights of Labor, the first labor union, was founded in 1869 in Philadelphia. At first they did not allow women to join the
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course HISTORY 152 taught by Professor Tomhave-blauvelt during the Fall '07 term at CSB-SJU.

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history1 - History 152 Female ADE Between 1880 and 1940,...

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