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Changes in Roles of Women in Society from 1950’s till Now

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In the 1950’s it was the primary responsibility of the men in the home to go to work and bring home the ‘proverbial’ bacon. The role of a female was to be the nurturing homemaker. While men were educated in their specific career field, women were educated in preparing for a life as a house wife. They took courses like home economics. This image of the cooperative family unit appeared in the 19th century when the roles of men changed with men working outside of the home, often referred to as the “Nuclear Family”.

There were many cultural changes in the 60’s that affected the roles of women in society. Women were entering the workforce, and there was an increase in the use of conception, 80% of women of childbearing age were used the government approved birth control pill. There was a feminist trend that took hold in the 60’s. The 70,s brought about woman’s liberation and non-heterosexual sex into the spotlight. It was an era of sexual freedom for women. There were changes in culture surrounding empowerment but few laws or political changes. Men were finally free to express themselves as much as woman. The world of work and family life has progressed into a balancing act for both men and women. Men increasingly accepted roles working with woman as providers in raising children.

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Morin and Rosenfeld (1998) state “Government statistics confirm, the working world is increasingly a man’s and woman’s world. Between 1970 and 1995, the percentage of women ages 25 to 54 who worked outside the home climbed from 50% to 76%”. There were approximately 33.9 % of woman 16 and older in the workforce as compared to 59.8% in 1998. The latest annual data showing 57% of working age woman take part in the labor force, or 71.6 million women in the civilian labor force. Men were 86.4 percent in 1950, decreasing to 73.3 percent by 2005. There is a definite decline in men’s labor and it is expected to continue with 2050 projected for men to be at 52.3 with woman at 47.7%.

Woman are looking for and obtaining professional degrees and holding management positions. While it is not widely accepted we are seeing more stay at home dads raising children while their spouses work While men did not take part or agree with educating women in the 50’s, today education is a shared experience. Today woman attend college to gain status and position in the labor, or to earn higher pay. Even though women have been in the work force since the first war, it was not until 1963 that the Equal Pay Act was passed by Congress. Today, as in the 50’s, men still receive higher pay. Women were excluded from being jurors until 1975, when the Supreme Court denied states the right to continue to exclude them. The more positions that woman hold in politics will continue to lead to changes in laws regarding issues like sexual harassment, which has been a problem since the 50’s and continues to be an issue today. In politics, men still hold most of the Senate seats and have held most positions since the 1950’s. In politics, we have some work to do.

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