1. Describe the type of employment and careers that were open to women before the 1960s.
Most jobs for women were servant jobs. They and immigrants received low pay for their work which was often difficult but didn’t require much skill. Professional careers were for secretaries, nurses, teachers and librarians. Wages and promotions were not comparable to those for men. Jobs were supposed to be secondary to marriage.
2. Explain how women faced discrimination in the workplace during the 50s and 60s.
Pay was lower. Women weren’t easily accepted into some professions such as medicine and law. Women were not treated the same intellectually. Womens' ability to move beyond clerical or secretarial positions was also restricted making them less likely to be able to become managers and executives.
3. What was a woman's life like in 1950s America? How did attitudes in the 60s change giving women more opportunities in the workplace?
You were supposed to let men think they were smarter. You wore more formal attire, such as gloves when you were out on special occasions. You weren’t supposed to beat men in sporting events. Movie themes stressed women marrying and giving up careers to stay at home to be a homemaker and to raise children. Volunteer work in hospitals and schools could get the homemaker out of the house. Equal pay laws were passed for women; non-discrimination laws pertaining to race and types of jobs were in effect. More women entered politics and as they were elected, they became more vocal and visible to the public.
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a woman going into the work force?
This could be a class discussion or the class could be divided into two groups: one that discusses advantages; the other disadvantages. In addition, the groups could list occupations in which women could both work and raise a family at the same time - just as a man could. Talk about the "women's rights" movement, the ERA, and the suffrage movement. If not already discussed, the women who worked in the defense industry in WWII should be brought into the discussion. When the men came back from the War, the women allowed the men to take the jobs and the women went back home. This would give the students some background on why this is an issue. Each group should bring a summary of their discussions to the entire class in order to discuss each side of the issue. Women working outside the home is a fairly recent practice but one that these students have experienced all of their lives. Some women want to work; others must work to support their families. An education is now important for all - not just for some. Women going to college and getting degrees is not uncommon today and should also be a part of the overall lesson.