Women and Work in the 19th Century

911 words 4 pages
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…

Women aspiring to move beyond their jobs as housewives and into the labor force began to refer to themselves as "the Woman Movement". Members of this movement advocated women's suffrage under the reasoning that voting rights were necessary if women were to successfully move into the workforce. Organizations such as the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association, fought for women's equality in court and the workplace in addition to their pursuit of suffrage. These organizational founders presented a document, known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, to the government addressing women in the workforce. "That document, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, declared that all men and women are created equal. It demanded equal access to all means of employment and the ministry" (Ryan 67). The 19th century was a time of distinct change for women's rights. By entering a male-dominated workforce, women began to take a stance socially as well as politically. Although there was much controversy over women leaving the domestic lifestyle, they contributed to the expansion of the manufacturing and service industries. Even though a woman's life was not equal to a man's in the 19th century, education, wages, and working conditions for women were increasing. As the standard of living continued to improve for women, hope for a better


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