How Did the Role of Women in Society Change During the 1920s?

The role of women in America and in some other countries changed in the 1920s as a result of social and cultural factors. These included the arrival of new fashions, developments in technology, the proliferation of birth control and (in America) the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote, a liberty they previously did not enjoy. Many women had gone to work during World War I, and when the war ended they continued to participate in the working world. Some estimates say there was a 25 percent increase in the number of working women at this time, an increase that radically changed the dynamic of the workplace. Combined with an advancement in household maintenance items such as washing machines, this helped to redefine the role of women in relation to both the home and the outside world.

Clothing styles also changed during this period. Women went from more formal, full attire to shorter skirts and clothing designed for comfort. The proliferation of birth control caused some women to redefine their status in marriage and relationships. Women adopted such behaviors and activities as smoking, drinking and dancing. All of these factors sparked debates within society of what it meant to be a woman.