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Women have changed quite a bit over the past one hundred years – from gaining the right to vote to higher participation in the workforce. Today, women have many more opportunities to attend college, find jobs, and participate in traditionally male activities. I recently finished ABC’s The Astronaut Wives Club, which focuses on the lives of America’s original astronauts’ wives in the 1960s and 1970s. In those days, all women were seen as homemakers. When two of the wives seek work outside the home—as a pilot and journalist—they were met with disapproval and experienced difficulty finding jobs. Instead of pursuing careers, these women were expected to put on happy faces as their husbands flew into space, all while taking care of their homes and children. Today, in contrast, many women pursue careers in addition to raising families. So, how did all this change come about?
In the mid-nineteenth century, women formed organizations to fight for suffrage, the right of women to vote and the right to run for office. With the tremendous efforts from women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, women eventually gained the right to vote. Although there were several different women’s’ rights organizations, they each had a common goal: to earn women the right to participate in the election process. As time progressed, supporters of women’s rights began to hold demonstrations, in addition to their campaigning on the local and national levels. On March 3, 1913, the first national demonstration for women’s suffrage took place. Around eight thousand women marched in this historic event, coming closer to achieving their goal. While this parade was met with mixed emotions, it identified the suffrage movement as a legitimate political movement. Seven years later, on August 18, 1920, the nineteenth amendment was ratified—it guaranteed women the right to vote. This was a glorious moment in American history, as women were allowed a voice in American politics.
Since then, women have continued to be successful in other areas too: since 1948, the number of women in the workforce has grown from just over 17,000,000 to about 73,500,000 in 2015. In that same time frame, women’s share of the labor force has exploded 28.6% to 46.8%. Today, more women attend college and receive some kind of postsecondary education than men. Women have proved themselves bold, perseverant, and successful. While these are common traits between women of today and of the past, some things have changed drastically.