Stay at Home Moms: Mothers were urged to stay at home. Married women with jobs were frowned upon because there husbands were not supporting them. Eight percent of men did not want their wives to work. Unless a woman was single or self-sufficient, she was supposed to be thrifty and resourceful homemaker. Most moms devoted on average more than 60 hours a week to make their homes as comfortable as possible. But still many wives got part-time jobs.
One in ten mothers worked outside the household. Many took in laundry and ironing to help provide for their households while their husbands looked after the for work. The Federal Economy Act of 1932 was an attempt to get married women off the work force. The act stated that if a wife and her spouse both worked for the Federal Government, one of them must resign. 75% of those who resigned were women. Black wives however, were twice as likely as their white counterparts to work because black male unemployment was higher than the employment of white males.
Also, school districts enforced policies of letting newly married females go. But in nearly 4 million of the 30 million households in America, in 1930, the role of the financial provider was assumed by the women. Employment of Single Women: Single women were the only females “allowed” to get jobs. The typical woman was single and under the age of 25.
But employment for women was very slim. Jobs for women included domestic services like maids, social workers, clerical jobs, and primary education. Some were even cooks, using self-taught skills. Women made up 22% of all workers in 1930. About 1 out of every 4 women was gainfully employed. Even though many supported these women in getting jobs, many were criticized for taking work away from the men.
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Women Hobos Single women were considered less needy and received less aid. Many would room with other women in tenements if they could not find a place at the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) which housed working single women. But many women could not find jobs and without financial aid, they were forced into living the life of a hobo. Most cut their hair short and dressed in men’s clothing to avoid being robbed or raped.
Some women traded sexual favors for food, money, transportation or protection. But when that wasn’t an option, many would con local merchants or charitable organizations, like Catholic missionaries, for food and money. Most women hobos slept in city parks and cleaned up in the jungles (hobo camps), restroom in libraries or in public facilities. They tried to keep clean as much as possible since a dirty hobo was a target for police.
Political Involvement Slowly, more and more women became involves in politics. In 1933, Hattie Caraway of Arkansas was the first woman elected to the U. S. Senate. About two percent of all American lawyers and judges were women in the year 1930. The Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins was one of the few women who actually attained genuine power in the government.
She was also the first woman cabinet member. Eleanor Roosevelt, the president’s wife, was the most active first lady the country had ever known. She visited a numerous amount of hospitals and schools being built by the New Deal funds. After the death of her husband, she was appointed as delegate to the United Nations. Place in Society Before Prohibition, no respectable woman was seen drinking in public, especially without her husband. But after the 18 th Amendment passed, more women began to drink and smoke in public.
Some bars even banned women for they were even more rowdy than the men. Even though women were still discouraged to drink and smoke in public, they exhibited their freedom behind closed doors. Drinking, drunkenness and smoking were at an all-time high. Family Values The attitudes of women in the 1930’s were based on traditional family values. Women of the lower class chose to take the positions of stay-at-home mother, though given many opportunities in the work force. The middle classes struggled to maintain the living standard they were accustomed to.
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It was the woman’s responsibility to try and make ends meet on an average income of 20 dollars a week. Upper class women had very relaxed lifestyles. Some even had servants. These types of moms were usually at home, given their children more time to spend with them.
The father was supposed to be the man who brought home the money while the mother was seen as the homemaker. Women’s Rights In 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act sent a precedence for women’s wages. Minimum wage for women was set lower than men in the same occupation. For example, female WPA workers received 3 dollars a day while men received 5 dollars. Still, then act did not set wages for women involved in domestic and agricultural jobs, which is where most single women were employed.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a book called, It’s Up to the Women. Here she described women rights. Topics covered in the book ranged from household budgets, child rearing, and fervent appeals to women to lead the movement for social justice. Education was also a major issue. Women were excluded from formal education in the 17 th and 18 th Centuries. In high school and colleges, women were most likely to enroll in literature, languages, and home education while most men signed up for math, science, and political studies.
By the 1930’s, almost half of the college population was females. Most women went to college and then married.