How Has the Role of Women Changed Over Time?

In the United States, women enjoy more equality, work opportunities, higher wages and voting rights now than in past decades. Women traditionally served as homemakers and housewives, having roles confined to bearing and raising children and performing domestic activities such as cooking and cleaning. However, World War II ushered in a new era of employment for women, giving them the opportunity to earn wages and depart from traditional female roles.

Some increased opportunities for women, such as the surge in work opportunities during World War II, stemmed from necessity. During World War II, the U.S. needed more workers to keep the national economy alive at home and provide support to troops overseas. The need for a larger workforce gave women access to more jobs than in the past.

In other instances, legal reforms and implementation of policies helped women advance in society. The introduction of Title IX helped women participate in sports, and improvements in laws surrounding domestic abuse, sexual assault and other crimes against women gave women confidence and safety.

Educational opportunities expanded for women through the decades as well. Women attended college in larger numbers following World War II. They earned degrees and held jobs once determined only suitable for men.

Increasing equality in compensation and wages for women encourage women to work. The rise in services for children, such as daycare and preschool programs, gave women the freedom to work outside of the home.