How the Women’s Movement has Improved

The status of women in the United States has significantly improved since World War II. Congress has passed many acts to improve the lives of women allowing them to reach equality. The abilities of women began to manifest themselves during and after the Second World War. “Their abilities included working hard and learning fast on the job while maintained their essentials of home life.” (Van Horn 141)
The attitudes of many women and the attitudes towards women during the 1940’s changed dramatically. Women were no longer considered just housewives but part of the work force. “The greatest shift in attitude that grew out of the war was the way women began to see themselves. Many married workers realized that they must be quite capable to hold down two jobs at once.” (Kaledin 68) “The percentage of women in the paid workforce had risen steadily after 1950.” (Mansbridge 22) “More Americans have changed their way of thinking, they had come to approve of married women earning money in business and industry.” (Mansbridge 22) The shift in attitudes encouraged women to work. The status of women changed after the war because they took on the same jobs of men while they were at war, proving that what a man could do a woman can do also. The war gave an opportunity, a chance for women to show off their knowledge, abilities and capabilities. Quite ironic, the jobs women obtained were partly forced into voluntarily jobs. Some of the women wanted to prove themselves capable of doing a “man” job, while others were indirectly forced into it because they had no male to support their family financially.
During the 1940’s sexual discrimination of female workers were temporarily put aside. “The massive production requirements of World War II created new demands for additional female workers. Suddenly it was patriotic and appropriate for women to work.” (Van Horn 140) “The expanding economy encouraged women to look for jobs.” (Van Horn 83) “Statistics showed that the number of women over 35 years of age in the work force had jumped from 8.5 million in 1947 to almost 13 million in 1956.” (Kaledin 64) Female employment had increased at a rate four times faster than that of men. The proportion of wives at work had doubled from 15 percent in 1940 to 30 percent in 1960. (Kaledin65) Female workers during this time played an important role in the economy of the United States.
Although the employment of women increased, the jobs obtained were considered leftovers by many of the men. “In 1957 the Presidential Commission of the Status of Women easily demonstrated that 95 percent of all doctors, lawyers, architects and natural scientists were men. What was happening was that women were largely confined to the standard female occupation categories. Men continued to dominate the workforce in the upper echelons despite the increased participation of women,” but this did not discourage women from working. (Van Horn 126)
Many acts were passed by Congress to improve the lives and status of women. “In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal to set different pay scales for men and women who perform the same job. In 1964, congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this act included Title VII, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.” (Bender 246) No longer could employers make private judgments about the legitimacy of married women working. This legislation required employers to hire and promote women without reference to their marital of maternal status. It also contributed to the rising employment opportunities for women. (Van Horn 168) “In 1972, Congress passed the Higher Education Act, this act included Title IX, which bans discrimination in education on the basis of sex.” (Bender 246) All these acts passed were to lead the status of women towards equality.
There were many women during the time since the Second World War who proved that the status of women did in fact change. “Berenice Abbott was best known for 1920s portraits of Parisian notables and for dignified cityscapes of New York, was commissioned in 1954 to photograph U.S. Highway No. 1 from beginning to end. Television offered a brand-new field for women’s imaginations. Nanette Fabray and Imogene Coca, Jayne and Audrey Meadows, Arlene