Facing Major Challenges
Professor Randolph Boothe- Pharr
May 4, 2009
Women in the Workforce
Thesis Statement: Women have always contributed to the workforce in formal and informal ways, but their labor has not always been recognized.
I. Elements of Struggle in the Workforce A. Being Treated Differently B. The Right to Vote II. Racial Displacement A. Complexity for African American Women III. Job Discrimination A. Equal Rights
A. Gaining Control B. Independency
Women as a part of the American workforce have always faced major challenges. Along the centuries women have faced social challenges of segregation and inequalities of some form in terms of who they are and the roles they could assume within the American workforce. Women have fought persistently to resist these challenges and have succeeded to some degree. This has brought about phenomenal changes in regard to their rights, their roles, and how they should be treated in general. This inexorable struggle has yielded milestones that have advanced women closer to achieving their equal status in the workplace and as citizens in general. As an achievement for centuries of perseverance in this conflict, women now enjoy a much safer working environment, higher job status, and better working conditions, although the fight for equal work, and for equal pay still ensues that women have always contributed to the workforce in formal and informal ways, but their labor has not always been recognized.
To be sure, there were a few women in a great variety of other occupations, some of which paid reasonably well. Women worked as printers, cigar makers, teachers, and telegraphers. A handful ran their own businesses or earned their living as writers and lecturers. But until long after the Civil War most working women held such traditional jobs as domestic service, sewing, or laundering. In 1870, 60 percent of all female workers were engaged in some aspect of domestic service and another 25 percent earned their livings in factories and workshops. Except for janitorial work, factory jobs were unavailable to black women. As late as 1900, when the proportion of white women in domestic service had dropped below 50 percent, most women of color supported themselves and their families with various forms of domestic service. Others participated in the agricultural work that continued to sustain the majority of black families
During the nineteenth century, the lives of women were sharply bounded by economic, ethnic, and racial circumstances. Proscriptions against married women working outside the home prevented the most prosperous from engaging in paid work. The wives and daughters of skilled male workers might similarly hope that their husbands and fathers could earn a wage sufficient to support a family. This "family wage" would protect them from the harsh realities of the job market. But most women spent some portion of their lives before marriage at poorly paid, brutal work in the fields or factories or in someone else's kitchen. Lucky women and the well educated might teach or serve as governesses or companions. The poorest continued, even after marriage, to earn money by taking in boarders, washing, or sewing. Not until late in the century were these options significantly expanded by new jobs in retail stores and business offices.
On March 13th 1913 The National American Women Suffrage Association groups took to the streets of Pennsylvania Ave in a protest to show their insolence and courage to stand up for what they believe to be their lawful place as equal citizen of the American society. These women have long been campaigning for their voices to be heard while they continued to tolerate discrimination and inequality at every level within the labor force. Women’s struggles on most issues were destabilized, thus they were disenfranchised