womens rights

Throughout many years preceding World War I, many women were not happy with
their jobs. In 1870 most women worked in the agriculture of their homes, or did
domestic service. Even by 1910 though, more women were already working in
factories, offices, stores and telephone exchanges. As opposed to 14.8% in 1870,
24% of women were now working in 1910. The practices of withdrawing from work
once married and only returning when necessary (i.e. husband’s salary
decreased, laid off, injured, desertion) was unfortunately still being widely
accepted and practiced. The birth of modern corporations began to change the
location and nature of women’s paid labor and was an important factor in the
advancement of women’s labor (Greenwald 5). Multi plant firms began to
transform the structure of business, as well as adding an element of elementary
competition. There were still although a few financial giants, created by vital
industries, such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Swift, Borden, whose
practices ultimately determined how people lived, and what they bought
(Greenwald 7). As large factories increasingly began to replace older and
smaller factories, skilled work became less needed and women even started to
make goods as machine tenders. Already, this reorganization was improving women’s
status in the work force. There was although a great deal of gender segregation,
women were low paid and restricted to unskilled and semiskilled jobs, usually in
textile mills, food processing, apparel, tobacco factories, and commercial
laundries. Men of course were given jobs concerning transportation and heavy
industry. Unfortunately, as heavy industry became increasingly important, it
resulted in fewer opportunities for women because companies were hiring more
men. Another factor of unfairness was the fact that women were barred from
apprenticeship programs resulting in the loss of better-paid and more
sophisticated jobs in the metal industry (Greenwald 11). World War I though
would provide a great opportunity for women to get ahead and although the
movement into the work force was already underway, and it would certainly
provide as a stimulus. As a result of World War I and changing social views,
women’s role and place in American Society changed greatly.

The results of World War I on women’s place in society can be seen clearly
in statistical evidence. Between 1910-1920 there was a dramatic increase in
women in offices as clerks and in semi-skilled jobs, such as typists, cashiers,
and typists. At the same time although, there was a decrease of women cleaners,
tailoresses, dressmakers and servants. As the men began to leave for war from
America, more women began to work, the substantial change although was not the
number of new entrants in the work force, but the numbers of women changing jobs
and the new opportunities being opened to them. Many women decided to change
jobs in hopes of better opportunities. Increased job standardization,
specialization of work and increasing supervision resulted in making many jobs
interchangeable. Women cashiers for instance would become fare collectors or
retail workers would move to office work. This was called skill dilution and it
enabled workers to move from one area to another. As the war progressed there
was a greater need for American War materials, and after the 2nd draft of men in
late summer, the male workforce was greatly decreased. Companies began to beg
for workers, especially those that had contracts to fill and war resources to
supply. Businesses realized the number of women who could work and began to
print ads saying “Women Wanted”. Bridgeport munitions even distributed
flyers from an airplane urging women to leave their homes and work. This created
many new opportunities for women, and they soon realized that. As women changed
jobs and took over those formally done by white men, black women took the
opportunity to do those formally of white women. This was the first time a white
woman could chose her job, and she took it very seriously and to its full
advantage. Many women researched, sought advice, and did other things in order
to choose the best job possible (Greenwald 35). The rise in the productions of
war resources needed drew thousands of women into the iron and steel industries
as well. Women even began to produce explosives, fireworks, and even medicines.
During the war, women did 20% of the manufacturing in the electrical industry.
Women started to engage in untraditional jobs, such as grinding and drilling due
to the absence of men as well. In all cases women looked for the best
opportunities, for they saw the job of a switchboard operator more secure than
that of dipping chocolates (Greenwald 46). In 1917,