There was never a problem with farm wives busting their asses next to their farmer-husbands, or wives of store-owners, but women in the workforce were another issue.
Women often took IN work...sewing, ironing, washing, etc.. or they did after-hours cleaning. The immigrant women were relegated to sweatshop work, because they were timid, & many did not speak English well, or they had no room in their tenements to DO take-in work.
Women were expected to do all the child-rearing, keep the house, cook, clean, do laundry and of course be "available" to their man whenever he wanted.
That schedule is pretty daunting, without being "out there" competing in the job-world for less money than a man would make, doing the same job.
Men were paid more because the perception was that THEY supported a family, and women worked because they were bored housewives, old-maid spinsters, too homely to "catch" a man, or just wanted "extra money".
No one took note of the fact that for DECADES now, one salary has not been enough to support a family, OR that MILLIONS of women re now MORE educated and qualified than a lot of men, and that many men have bailed on families & Mom IS the sole support of the family.
The movies & books still play up the angle that women do not "need" to work, and the ones who do are often "in it" for self-gratification...not from necessity.
For the young ones here who were not around bck then, take a hard look at "Mad Men". That's as true a representation as there is, of how it really was for women ..and that whole thing continued WAAAAY into the 1970's.
The one quibble I have about Mad Men is that they are almost too nice to the women. Most women I knew in the labor force back then were totally dismissed by the men they worked with, and other than the few who were hit upon mercilessly, and treated like workplace whores, most were just as valuable as the carpeting, drapes or furniture in the place.. totally replaceable.
Teaching was one of the few occupations (the other one was nursing) that "respectable" young women went to college to do.
Being unmarried was often a part of the requirement, because then they would always be available to do extra after-hours tutoring & mentoring, and they could also be paid less because with no family to support they did not NEED to earn more.
Until the late '70's it was pretty common for women to go to college to find a husband, and failing that, they would have a teaching certificate or nursing degree to "fall back on" until they DID find a man.
The Women's Movement was ALL about changing this perception, and it has, to some degree, but all you have to do is go to the movies, and the "olden days" are still there.. Even the brightest, cutest, most successful woman is still portrayed as unhappy, unworthy, and downright neurotic, until she meets "Mr. Right" & has (or tries to) have a baby.
The old myth of women being the "weaker sex/fair sex/delicate flowers of womanhood/etc" persists, and is the bedrock of rightwing philosophy. The LAST thing these people want is a bunch of capable women in charge and running things.
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