A woman of 1920 would be surprised to know that she would be remembered as a “new woman. ” Significant changes for women took place in politics, at home, in workplace, and in education. POLITICAL CHANGE: Many women believed that it was their right and duty to take a serious part in politics. When passed in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote but surprisingly, some women didn’t want the vote.
A widespread attitude was that women’s roles and men’s roles did not overlap, this idea of “separate spheres” held that women should concern themselves with home, children, and religion, while men took care of business and politics. North Carolina opponents of woman suffrage claimed that “women are not the equal of men mentally” and being able to vote “would take them out of their proper sphere of life. ” Though slow to use their newly won voting rights, women were represented on local, state, and national political committees.
More emphasis began to be put on social improvement, such as protective laws for child labor and prison reform. Women active in politics in 1929 still had little power, but they had begun the journey to actual political equality. HIGH SCHOOL: With regard to education, North Carolina’s female high school students seldom expected to go to college. If they did, they usually attended a private college or Woman’s College in Greensboro, where there were no male students. Most of the Woman’s College students became teachers or nurses, as these were considered suitable professions for women.
COLLEGE: The University of North Carolina opened housing to female graduate students in 1921, but they were not made welcome. The student newspaper headlined, “Women Not Wanted Here. ” Few North Carolina women earned degrees during the 1920s. But times were changing, and each year more women earned college degrees. NORTH CAROLINA’S WOMEN: At the beginning of the decade until the 1940s, most North Carolina women lived in rural areas without electricity, with an iron that had to be reheated constantly, cooking on a woodstove, going to an outside well for water, and always visiting an outhouse instead of a athroom. Before 1920 Most women particularly white women did not work outside the home. They performed traditional domestic responsibilities of conserving food and fuel resources in the early part of the war. FEMALE UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE U. S: In the United States in the 1920s, only about 15 percent of white and 30 percent of black married women with wage-earning husbands held paying jobs. Most Americans believed that women should not work outside the home if their husbands held jobs.
As a result of this attitude, wives seldom worked at outside jobs. However, some married women in desperate need took jobs in textile mills. During World War One Women joined the military and took the role as nurses. Women started to work as accountants, telephone operators, and steel mill workers. DISCRIMINATION AT WORK: By 1922 North Carolina was a leading manufacturing state, and the mills were hiring female floor workers. Cotton mills also employed a few nurses, teachers, and social workers to staff social and educational programs.
These mills did not hire black women because of segregation. As a consequence, white millworkers often hired black women as domestic and child-care workers. YOUNG UNMARRIED WOMEN: Public acceptance of wage-earning jobs for young unmarried women was growing. No longer being limited to work as “mill girls” or domestics, these women began to perform clerical work in offices and retail work in shops and department stores. It became acceptable for working girls to live away from their families. Working for wages gave women independence.
Women’s Role In Society 1920’s brought new and exciting cultural innovations that shifted women’s attention from politics into social life. Social life consisted of new fashion trends, products, and sexier images. TOBACCO FOR WOMEN: Working women became consumers of popular products and fashions. Women who would never tolerate the strong smells and stains of chewing tobacco or cigars began to smoke the new. Cigarettes were advertised to women as a sign of modern sophistication, and the 1920s “flapper” is usually pictured with a cigarette in her hand.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE: there was a view that women should not have the right to vote because it was not within her intellectual capacity to make reasonable judgment in an election. There was also another view that if women get involved in politics they would stop getting married, stop having children, and the human race would die out. Also known as the Race Suicide Argument. Finally after decades of suffrage in 1920 the 19 th amendment was passed and it gave women the right to vote. After women succeeded in traditional male jobs they began to demand better wages and more political rights.