Women and Work in the 19th Century Essay

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During the 19th century, change was in the air. Industrialization, involving the movement of labor and resources away from agriculture and toward manufacturing and commercial industries, was in progress. As a result, thousands of women were moving from the domestic life to the industrial world. During the 19th century, the family economy was replaced by a new patriarchy which saw women moving from the small, safe world of family workshops or home-based businesses to larger scale sweatshops and factories. Prior to these changes, career options were limited for women. The work of a wife was often alongside her husband, running a household, farm or plantation. "Indeed, a wife herself was considered her husband's chattel, or personal…show more content…
Industrial working conditions were often unsanitary and the work was dangerous to untrained and unskilled women. The education of children decreased due to the long hours the women had to work. Home life suffered as women were faced with the double burden of factory work followed by domestic chores and child care. Since employment was unpredictable and pay was low, prostitution became a way of life for lower class women. Women, considered less important in society, had to deal with men assuming supervisory roles and receiving higher wages. Also, the men began forming worker oppositions proposing that child and female labor should be abolished from certain jobs. "In the 1830s, America's first attempt to form a National Trades Union was motivated in large part by working men's desire to limit competition from female employment" (Woloch 126). All of these troubles made it difficult for women to find and maintain employment. Later in the 19th century, some women held jobs in the domestic-service market and worked as maids or nannies. Expansion in industrial and retail areas led to an increase in the number of available white collar jobs. These jobs were filled predominately by women looking for better pay and working conditions. Big businesses and companies began to employ women as typists, secretaries, file clerks, and
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