Throughout history there has always been a consistent trend, that of women not having a place in outside society. Women had always been confined to their homes to do the cooking and cleaning. In the early 1800s this changed however, as women started to ease themselves into the workplace. Women were brought into factories and were then called factory girls. This was a huge step in women’s rights as a whole. So, this paper argues that industrialization changed gender roles, specifically women’s, by giving them economic independence.
The biggest change for women was that they were able to work for wages. For most women it was their first time wage working. However, compared to the men of the time, they did not make very much. Harriet Hanson Robinson said, “We were paid two dollars a week and how proud I was when my turn came to stand up on the bobbin-box, and write my name in the paymaster’s book, and how indignant I was when he asked me if I could “write””(Robinson, 206). The fact that these women were earning money for the first time made them feel important and as if they even had a role in society. This is simply because they were making wages, which men had been making for years. The women were not looked at as very smart either, as Robinson explained that her paymaster asked if she knew how to write. This was before women had any rights, such as voting rights, but this was a big step in women becoming economically independent.
With money comes the advantages of spending it. Now that women had their own money, they could spend it on whatever they wanted to. They had never had the freedom to do this before, another new thing for women. De Wolfe said, “The textile mills offered a chance to participate directly in the economy, earn money by the labor of one’s own hands, and do with that money what one pleased”(De Wolfe,10). The quote itself is really self explaining. Albeit the wages were low, women were still making money and were able to spend it on whatever they pleased. However, that was not always the case because women at the time had no property rights. A woman’s husband owned everything that she bought. Although women did not technically own what they bought, they were becoming less and less dependent on their husbands. The husbands were no longer the only ones making money in the households of the time.
Aforementioned above, women were becoming less and less dependent. Not only were they bringing in their own money, but they also were starting to take stand for themselves. Women had never stood up for their opinions before, because they simply did not have the right to. Harriet Hanson Robinson said, on the topic of women striking against the mills,
One of the girls stood up on a pump, and gave vent to the feelings of her companions in a neat speech, declaring that it was their duty to resist all attempts at cutting down the wages. This was the first time a woman had spoken in public in Lowell, and the event caused surprise and...