New Women Of The Gilded Age Term Paper


¶ … New Women of the Gilded Age The Gilded Age in America oversaw the creation of a new middle class within the American social fabric, as a result of the increased wealth generated by industry during the period. The economic and social opportunities created by industry were significant for the country not simply in terms of the unprecedented wealth and prosperity generated and the increasing amounts of leisure time the middle classes were able to enjoy. Now, the daughters as well as the sons of these rising and aspiring middle-class elites could be educated and become politically aware, because their family had more funds to support their children, and because families were having less children. Furthermore, even lower class women such as the Lowell girls of the Massachusetts mills could attain a certain level of economic and personal autonomy through industry and become separate from their homes in newly urban areas. However, despite all of these successes, female education and advancement in employment remained a luxury, rather than a necessity in the eyes of most Americans, and the 'separate sphere's ideology of the earlier century ideologically limited full feminine advancement in politics.

Statistically, over the course of the years from 1889 -1890, "a little more than 2,500 women had taken a bachelor of arts degree. The 90,000 or more women teachers of all kinds in 1875 had risen to almost 250,000 in twenty years; 544 women were physicians, surgeons, medical service workers in 1875." But that number "had...


In 1900 74,000 women were employed as bookkeepers, accountants, and cashiers. Over 100,00 women were secretaries, typists, and other white-collar jobs...Women workers were in rising demand," but "always for the lowest paying jobs." Still, "the 2,647,000" of women employed in 1880 grew from "5,319,397 in 1900 to 7,444,787 in 1910. 15.2% to 17.2% of women made up the total working labor force. 18% of females 14 and over filled the labor force. (Eleanor Flexnor, Century of Struggle, pp.182, 237). Thus, women had begun to be educated in unprecedented numbers and took part in the expanding economy in unprecedented. However, they were often demanded as laborers because they were inexpensive, and were not candidates for promotion and were the first to be fired during periods of economic contraction.
In America, the birthrate had begun to decline, and women, freed from constant childbearing, advocated in greater numbers for increased access to the political sphere in the form of the vote and increased access to birth control methods. "These strong, courageous young women will take our place and complete our work...Ancient prejudice has become softened and public sentiment liberalized. Women have demonstrated their ability to carry out our cause to victory." (Gage, Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, Eds. History of Women's Suffrage: 1878-1885, 91) Women became advocates, not only in the women's rights movement, but were prominent in the temperance movement and the progressive movement as well.


Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Flexnor, Eleanor. "Century of Struggle." Accessed on the World Wide Web. Web page of American History maintained last in 2000 by Danielle Mastromarino. Accessed at On December 15, 2003.

Gage, Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, Eds. History of Women's Suffrage: 1878-1885." Accessed on the World Wide Web. Web page of American History maintained last in 2000 by Danielle Mastromarino. Accessed at On December 15, 2003.

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