THE STRUGGLE TO ESTABLISH GENDER EQUALITY FOR AMERICAN WOMEN FROM 1865 TO PRESENT
American History Since 1865
Instructor Jessica Schmidt
2014 Jan 14
The role of women in American society changed from the traditional homemaker to modern-day breadwinners owing to the outcomes of various events that occurred from the end of the Civil War in 1865 through 1920. While America was at war, the existing industries opted to invite women into the labor force because men went to war. Women had to multitask because they still had their homemaker duties while also playing an important role in supporting the war by working for agricultural and war industries. During the war, women began to take on the role of a man in their homes and elsewhere in society. The 19th Amendment’s ratification in 1920 granted a form of equality to women and a newfound freedom of expression, which they took to new and daring heights. Although many women lost their husbands during the war, they suffered together, and societal events changed them together, creating independent, strong, courageous women, whom some refer to as the “New Woman.”
Women in Post-Civil War America faced three unique challenges in their fight to ensure equal rights. The struggle to overcome suffrage, the effort to break the professional barrier held by their male counterparts, and the fight against societal discrimination were the wars women fought in America. Notable events, which helped in the struggle for suffrage, included the formation of the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSM) by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton in 1869. The organization was instrumental in fighting for the right of women to participate in the elective process. The fight against discrimination through legal mechanisms, established through the enactment of State laws that illegalized wife battery, was another feat. Another major legal milestone was the decision by the Supreme Court to allow Belva Lockwood to be the first women to testify before it in 1879.
The struggle for equal gender rights continued after World War II. Decades of activism for equal right to vote culminated in the enactment of the 19th amendment in 1920 that granted women the right to participate in the elective process. This event inspired women to advance their ambitions at breaking the professional barrier. In 1932, Emilia Earhart became the first women to make a solo flight across the Atlantic. By doing so, she inspired millions of women across America in believing that they could venture in competitive male-dominated careers. Establish equal job rights for women, made a significant achievement with the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The law directed the payment of fair remuneration for both men and women. The six events selected can be used to discuss the struggle and achievements made by women in establishing equal gender rights that they enjoy today.
Ratified Amendments, 1795-1992 (1919). “Joint Resolution of Congress proposing a constitutional amendment extending the right of suffrage to women”: General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11: National Archives.
This document is a comprehensive primary source that offers an accurate and detailed description of the statutes contained in the 19th amendment to the constitution. It provides a first-hand view of the document that granted women the right to vote. It can be, therefore, relied upon as a primary source on the current topic.
The Associated Press. (1932, June 20). Amelia Shuns ‘Over-Praise’. Atchison Daily Globe.
This newspaper article highlights the story of Emilia Earhart’s conquest of the Atlantic. It offers a description of the humility to which Emilia portrayed after she completed her landmark flight. The article can be relied upon as a primary source in depicting the remarkable feat achieved by Emilia Earhart that went on to spur women to engage in male-dominated careers.