Women Participation in the US Workforce in the Contemporary Period (1945-Present) | Teen Ink

Women Participation in the US Workforce in the Contemporary Period (1945-Present)

April 14, 2021
By TIS-Leo SILVER, Tirana, Other
TIS-Leo SILVER, Tirana, Other
9 articles 12 photos 2 comments

   Female participation in the workforce is a very dynamic topic in all countries. The occupation of highly specialized jobs and even education was delayed to women over the years and only started being given in the mid-20th century, after much debate and protest. What helped to the acceptance of women in the workforce in greater numbers were two main factors: World War 2 and the feminist movement of 1960.  

   Moving closer to current times, the 20th century saw a radical increase in the number of women participating in labor markets across early-industrialized countries. A study conducted in 2014 showed that nearly 57.0% of women worked outside of home in the US at the time. This is significantly higher compared to previous years, such as the 1950s, where only 30% of women were part of the labor force or even the 1970s, with 43.3%.

   That is because it was during this time period where the arrival of mass high school education came for women, which led to more of the female sex pursuing higher and more specialized schooling. Also, the 3rd industrial revolution, which started in the late 1900, led to the development of new, modern technologies and an increased demand for working positions, most of which were filled by women. All of the above are what made it possible for increasing career opportunities for highly specialized females, representing the significant change that the US went through.

   There is a positive trend on the female labor participation rates in the US since the 1950s. While participation has changed at different rates over the years, its growth slowed down considerably or even stopped at the beginning of the 21st century. That is because unlike men, women were offered and even pushed towards the opportunity of work adjustments and accommodations, one example being the switch to part-time jobs with shorter working hours, which has a devastating effect on their careers.

   The association of higher female participation in the workforce with shorter working hours for women was the case worldwide, and also in the US. This includes part-time and full-time employment, as well as self-employment and dependent employment for women over the age of 15. The reason behind this is the women's other obligations in the household besides those in the work environment, unlike most men. Traditionally, women have always cooked, cleaned, helped, and taken care of children and the whole house. They were and still mostly are also the ones that organize various social activities in the family and plan other recreational projects with the purpose of bringing the whole family together. This, even nowadays, is an obstacle that prevents women from putting in all their hours in the workplace. Instead, they divide this time in two in order to manage. But if you are to think about it, at the end of the day, women end up working twice as much as men.

   Yet, if we look closely at the rates of unemployment, we notice that 6.1% of women aged 16 and older in the nation were unemployed in 2014, lower than 6.3 percent of men at the time. This fact comes with another hard truth: women’s unemployment rates vary considerably by race and ethnicity. According to various sources, in 2014 Asian women had the lowest unemployment rate among females at 4.6%, followed by white women at 5.2%, Hispanic women (8.2 percent) and black women at 10.5%. What has caused this is not the stereotyping of ethical groups, but a simple matter of education. Generally, black and Hispanic women tend to have lower education rates, while on the other hand, Asian women have the highest, therefore affecting their employment rates.

   To sum everything up, women have become a very strong and important column of the US economy and they will continue to do so over the many years to come. 

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