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Women's Careers: An Expansion Through Time

1554 words - 6 pages

The idealized 19th century American Dream is a two-story house that housed two children, their parents, a cat, and a dog with a car or two sitting out front and dependable jobs for one or both parents. This lifestyle required a greater income for many families and as the second parent went to work it became apparent that a man trying to support his family alone in the 19th and 20th century could do so much more easily than a woman. Legislation was passed, movements occurred, women protested for equal pay, equal hours, equal opportunities. They succeeded. Yet, the question becomes were they successful enough? Is it enough to be legally able to get almost all the positions of a man even if not as many women are taking advantage of the opportunities? It is enough that women can achieve the career goals they wish without limitation if they have the drive to succeed? In the past women were limited in their career options, but in 21st century America this is not as it is only a woman’s capability that limits her career opportunity.
Lucy Stone's speech “Disappointment is the Lot of Women,” which she delivered in 1848, set the tone as the fight for woman’s rights was starting and women had very restricted rights. Stone made a logical argument that it was practical for women to have greater rights in employment. At this point in time women could only be teachers, seamstresses, and housekeepers and at best these jobs payed 14 cents a day which, accounting for inflation, is less than half the minimum wage per an hour today. (“CPI”) In her speech Stone uses a woman's wages being incapable to support a person to make the point, “Woman must marry for a home, and you men are the suffers by this; for a woman who loathes you may marry you because you have the means to get money which she can not have.” Stone's argument supported by the facts of woman’s actual wages and limited occupations forced people to start to think. Her speech along with the others given at the Senecca Falls Women's Rights Convention became the springboard into a large and fairly successful women's rights movement. This movement and following movements were quite successful. Bills passed in 1872 and 1963 now guarantee equal pay for women who do equal work. (“Women's Rights Timeline”) In 2011 65% of married mother's worked and 40% of those mother's earned more for their work than their husbands. (Taylor) Not only has wage equality increased women are also no longer limited to the three professions Stone listed in her speech. There are now female astronauts, marines, CEOs, congressional members, construction workers, and engineers. In modern times we have addesed the issues of limited career options and lower pay for women, but this didn't happen instantly and stories can demonstrate the progression over time.
When in 1879 Henrik Ibsen wrote “A Doll's House” he set the play in Norway at the time of highly restricted women's rights. Throughout the play we see Nora being confined by...

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