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Gilman 19th Century Economic Change, Assessment Example

Pages: 1

Words: 684

Assessment

Gilman recognized that, while the economic dependence she examines persists, there have been changes about which she is hopeful. Choose one economic change (law, employment, education etc.) affecting women in the US in the late 19th Century. Explain your findings and what you believe Gilman would have thought about the change.

Change in the family environment, change that would enhance the freedom of women to expand their economic place in society, was a major economic philosophy of Gilman in the 19th Century, but what changes that has occurred since then that would have please or displease this influential American writer who concentrated on the need for social change through a restructuring of family sexuo-economic relationship throughout much of her life? (O’Donnell, 1994)

Gilman in her analysis explored the supply and demand in the marriage market, while seeking the determinants of the value of a wife or women in the same environment, and found that society has been losing significant individual and general productivity units due to the unreasonable restrictions that were place on women’s work (O`Donnell, 1994).

The social and economic reality of Gilman’s era as it relates to the role of women and how they were perceived by men, was reflected when she echoed that women get their living by getting their husbands, while men get their wives by getting a living (Gilman, 1898)

Digital History (2011), in a report on the conditions women encountered during the time of Gilman, stated that between 1820 and 1860 women by law could not vote, holds office, in any state, had no access to higher education, and were excluded from any professional occupation.

The Industrial Revolution which took place between the 18th Century and the 19th Century changed a predominantly agrarian society in the United States and Europe to an urban and industrial environment by the dawn of the 20th Century. Women as a result of the emerging transformation were able to find jobs in industries like textile mills, factories producing engage in mass production of foods, garments shops, restaurants, and as typists, clerks and secretaries in commercial and production facilities

Gilman would have been proud of the fact that although the working conditions in many instances were sub-standard, and women were made to work at lower wages than men and longer hours, they were able to contribute significantly to the increase productivity of the nation, gained greater economic freedom, and develop skills that could be used to even enhance their chances of setting up their own businesses in the future and employ other women

Additionally, during the period of industrial development, unions began to gain prominence fighting for better wages and working conditions for workers, according to Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, 1984). This change in the landscape would eventually lead to union representation for women which will help to reduce the harassment, discrimination, and wage disparity that was characteristic of the way employers treated women in the industry.

The progress of women was halted by the passage of labor laws in 1910 that led to the reduction of the working hours of women and children on the factory floors. This Gilman no doubt would have been disappointed with, because she would perceive the legislation as a feminine gender discriminatory strategy, implemented influential employers working in collaboration with government officials and power broking unions to keep women from expanding their economic place in the society.

In the final analysis however, Gilman would still feel hopeful and encouraged by the progress made in a society that previously regarded the actions of women who desire to seek employment and access higher education as scandalous. The American writer and motivator would also conclude without any doubt, that her philosophy regarding women changing their family environment in order to expand their economic freedom was a timeless truth that the present generation of women should embrace and continue the journey.

 

 

Reference

O`Donnell, M.G. (1994). Early Analysis of the Economics of Family Structure: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Women and Economics Review of Social Economy Vol.52 (1994)

Gilman, C.P. (1898) Women and Economics Cosmo Classics

Digital History (2011) Pre-Civil War Reform: Women Rights 1820-1860 www.digitslhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHD=630 , 02/11/12

Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia, (1994). Women History in America www.wic.org/misc/history.htm , 02/11/12

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