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How the Role of Women has Changed

Updated on May 21, 2014

In the past women were in some ways thought of as being inferior to men. The typical lifestyle among families was for women to stay at home while men worked, and this was the acknowledged as a way of life for both parties. Although certain generalisations still exist much of this has changed, especially over last century.

A hundred years ago women were thought so inferior that they were not allowed to vote. Early in the twentieth century things began to change. Many protests took place amongst women hoping for voting rights, and this led to them being given the ballot in 1918. But even then it was only women over the age of 21 who could vote; the voting age for men stood at 18. It took until 1928 for women to be given equal voting rights. The rights of women have grown significantly ever since.

The old way of life was very rigid in terms of the gender roles and most people lived according to this. Women would get married, have children and spend their lives looking after the children and doing the housework. The workplace meanwhile, was male dominated.  

The beginning of women in work was the Second World War. A large number of men were involved in fighting so less were able to work in their jobs. This meant women had to step in and some worked in factories throughout the war. Many enjoyed this sense of importance and aspired to continue once the conflict was over.

After this women started to want more from their lives and didn’t want to just accept their standing in society. The number of working women has grown ever since, with particularly growth in the 1960’s. Feminism helped put equality for women in the public eye.

Women these day are more independent than in the past. They demand more from their lives and choose how they want to live. This could be a reason for the increase in divorces over the last half a century. If women are unhappy in their marriage they won’t accept it. Could this be one positive of divorce for women? This independence has also meant more single women. 

Nowadays women are generally treated equally to men although some would argue there is still a long way to go. They want to run their own lives and live how they want, without being pigeon holed by society. They have greater expectation about what they want to acquire from life. Some still decide to be stay-at-home Mums in the traditional sense but they have more of a choice.  


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