Throughout history American women have been subjected to such stereotypes that they are the weaker sex and are incapable of performing work that requires physical labor or intellectual reasoning. The attitude toward women was that their primary purpose in life was to have children and tend to household chores. Traditionally American women learned from their mothers to cook, clean, and tend to the children. Scholastic testing created in the 1960’s showed that girls scored much higher in early grades, but once they reached high school their grades were significantly lower. The reasoning behind this was that girls’ own expectations declined because neither their families nor their teachers expected them to prepare for a future other than that of marriage and motherhood. In the last century attitudes toward the higher education of women has changed dramatically. College enrollment of women has increased from a mere fifth of college students in 1870 to over half of college students in 1985. (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, 1994-1995)
The status of women has changed dramatically in the last sixty years. American women not only have been obtaining college degrees, raising families, but they are also working full time jobs. In the beginnings of women in the work place, women typically earned very little, what male employers considered pocket change. The jobs women commonly worked sixty years ago were limited to secretarial jobs, waitressing, teaching, or retail, all of which were supervised by male bosses. Now with the feminist movement women are now working jobs and careers once dominated by men. There are now women doctors, lawyers, and politicians, and although women still do not earn wages equal to male counterparts, they are definitely on their way to resolving this issue. Many women believe that the solution to ending inequality in gender roles is for more women to occupy political offices. Since there are only a few women in Washington, the government is still dominated and run by men. Although I agree more women should run for political office, I feel like our male political leaders have not been completely unfair. They have of course granted us the right to vote as well as equal opportunities in the work place, and I believe with time they will also address the inequality of wages between men and women.
Society uses gender roles to impose its’ expectations and attitudes thought to be customary of one gender or the other. Traditionally in the United States women are thought to be tender or feminine, exhibiting characteristics thought to be motherly. Since the role of women for so long has been limited to having children and being a housewife, women are also taught to be submissive to men. Only in the last century has this role begin to change as women have entered the workplace and begin to have careers of their own. Even with this transformation, if a woman has children, she is often the primary caregiver even if that means she has to give up her career or education to do so. Masculinity has changed very little over time. By definition, to be masculine is to be tough, having little or no emotion, and having great physical strength and endurance. Men are thought to be natural leaders and should accept the role of dominating the household (both his wife and children. “Inequality between women and men is a worldwide social phenomenon”. (Schaefer, R., 2012. p354)
When thinking what has been the social status of GLBT people, historically. It is difficult to group each of these cultures into one, since their movements were all separate and different until the recent merging of the groups in the last decade. For instance, gay culture during the 19th and early 20th century was highly covert and was still very much an underground lifestyle limited to the social elite. During this time gay men were deeply involved in performing arts such as ballet, opera, and musicals.