The passage of time can make one forget the history they have lived through or witnessed. We are so used to having women executives, doctors, police officers, professional athletes, newscasters, and more that we forget there was a time in the not so distance past when those type of careers were not possible for women.
I stumbled upon some newspaper articles from 1972, 1976 and 1980 regarding women and their changing role in society. It was interesting to read what people thought and accomplished back then. My teen years, the 1970’s, were spent during a time of great strides in equality and achievement for women. Not all believed those accomplishments were to the woman’s benefit.
Women that were 92 years old and 73 years old contributed to an article written in 1976. These women believed that in the past men treated women with much more respect. Women were treated like fine porcelain, something special that a man was lucky to get. These elderly women felt times were better when women were put on a pedestal and a “man was a man” and provider. Women were homemakers, did not vote, did not work outside the home, and were never subjected to profanity. Women were the protected sex.
But women did not want to be protected. They wanted to achieve equal rights, and the 1970’s helped them march toward that goal. An article I read from 1980 stated that the status of women has never been altered so suddenly or dramatically as in the 1970s. Until I read the article it never occurred to me, but in brought back memories. I do remember these things being achieved and making news. Here are a few 1970’s achievements:
- Equal Rights Amendment
- Introduction of the word chairperson and Ms.
- Legal permission for women to keep their names after marriage
- Title IX of the Education Amendments in 1972 prohibited discrimination in education.
- Boom in women participating in collegiate sports
- Class action lawsuits for sex discrimination
- Forbid sex bias with creditors against women — prior to this a woman had to obtain her husband’s consent to obtain credit in her own name.
- Unemployment benefits could not be withheld from pregnant women
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 prevented women from getting fired from their workplace for being pregnant.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1980 was the first time the court recognized sexual harassment in the workplace.
- 1972 – Ability to participate in the Boston Marathon.
- Most states would recognize marital rape, but it did not become criminalized until 1993.
- Roe v. Wade, 1973 protected woman’s right to have an abortion.
- Girls obtained the right to play little league baseball.
- Service academies were ordered to admit women
- Women became more visible politically
- Big gains in sports: women became jockies, professional players of basketball, tennis, golf and football;
- Large gains in jobs: firefighters, police, construction, building trades, airline pilots.
Even with all those accomplishments there was still inequality. Equal pay for equal work was not achieved in 1980. Women still held was were termed “pink collar” jobs, meaning they still held the lesser level and lower paying jobs of secretary an clerk. Women earned 57% of men’s wages; women with four years of college earn less than a man with an 8th grade education.
When something stirs a memory, other memories come into play. I remember my parents discussing some of those achievements with disgust. They too felt that women were overstepping their boundaries and becoming unfeminine. Women today acknowledge their feminine side in dressing, but in the 1970’s the goal was to achieve a look similar to a mans. Pantsuits were high fashion. To accomplish your goals in a man’s world you must look and act like a man.
The Evolution of Women has taken place, and the female gender continues to evolve as we achieve greater standing in the eyes of the world. It will be interesting to see where this next decade takes us.