Monday, 21 March 2016

Women in America

Women in America

Womens Suffrage

The fist time women suffrage was proposed was in 1848 at the first American women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. It took 72 years of struggle until the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 guaranteed women the right to vote. At the turn of the century women could only vote in 4 states - Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Colorado. This was a slow progress made in the 52 years of the movement, but as they went into the 20th century, ‘The Progressive Era’, the question of woman suffrage had become mainstream politics. This was due to women roles in society expanding outside of the domestic bubble and millions more women from all ethnic, class and racial backgrounds entered public life to address severe social problems. With women’s suffrage becoming more and more prominent in public life and woman seen more in politics, the vote was granted in 1920 with all women given the right to vote. This was a huge turning point for women lives in America which gave them a sense of freedom outside the home and more of an equality with men. It has to be seen however that although it did give women the vote, women were still seen not on a equal intellectual level as men and were generally excluded from influential roles in major political parties, formal political processes and from holding political office until recently which is shown in the current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 


Historically women’s formal educational opportunities limited access to the hard sciences and technology fields. The women who were able to gain a formal education were then denied employment or full employment in these areas. Cultural norms excluded women form these areas. Change started to happen when Maria Mitchell became America’s first professional female astronomer. In 1847 she discovered a comet, being not only the first female to do so but also the first American. For this achievement Mitchell became the first women elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1848 and to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1850. This sparked an interest in education from women, embracing opportunities to learn and see training in professional careers. Dozens of women colleges were established during this time, however co-educational institutions frequently barred women form science and technical majors. As the 20th century progressed women were able to go into the STEM fields, with Admiral Grace Murray Hopper who invented the first computer complier and during the war women were used for computer programming which became known as a woman’s profession. It wasn't until 1972 when Title IX of the Education Amendment made it illegal to bar women form federally funded schools or programs of study. Dr Sally Ride benefitted from this and in 1983 became the first American woman in space. Rides achievements inspired other women to pursue careers in STEM. With 21 million students who attended American colleges and universities in fall 2014, women made up the majority with around 12 million females and 9 million males. It shows how far women have come in education and how they're taking opportunities which they once would never have had.

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