Women during the 1930s
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Women During the 1930s. Iconic “Migrant Mother”. Dorothea Lange photo, 1936. Eleanor Roosevelt. Complex Picture. Depression was gendered experience Expanded opportunities for white women (sometimes more than white males)

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Women During the 1930s

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Women During the 1930s


Iconic “Migrant Mother”

Dorothea Lange photo, 1936


Eleanor Roosevelt


Complex Picture

  • Depression was gendered experience

  • Expanded opportunities for white women

    (sometimes more than white males)

  • Continued individual achievement, esp. in emerging fields like film & aviation

  • Women shaped New Deal policies


The Depression & Gender

  • Crisis discussed as male dilemma

  • Class differentials

  • Hostility to married women workers

  • Desertion rates increased; divorce did not

  • Fertility rates declined


Race Differentials

  • White women benefitted from New Deal federal employment & lesser impact on light industry

  • Black women hurt

    by constriction of

    agriculture sector

    and domestic work .

North Carolina cannery, 1930s


Network Help

  • Family assistance

  • Ethnic/racial communities

  • Boarders


Single Women

  • Cultural prohibition

    against female hoboes,

    sleeping in flophouses

  • For desperate:

    Domestic service or

    prostitution


Married Women

  • Number +50% in labor force

  • Cheaper domestics

  • Home-based work

    increases

  • Media vilifies

Office work, 1930s


Strong Role Models


Strong Role Models


Gov’t Limitations

  • 1932 Economy Act (federal)

  • Local gov’ts followed

  • By 1940, only 13% districts hiring married women teachers; 70% fired upon marriage

  • By 1940, 81,000 fewer female teachers


Women’s New Deal Network

  • 28 female political appointees

  • All born 1865-1904; median 1881-2.

  • 70% college, half graduate school

  • 10 never married; 9 widowed by 1930

  • ½ group leaders in suffrage movement;

    ½ active in war effort


Network Center

  • Provided entrée

    to President

  • Applied pressure

    to other officials

  • Appeared personally to support own & FDR causes


Molly Dewson

  • Patronage positions:

    • Promoted social justice issues

    • Demonstrated value of women’s contributions

    • Rewarded female Dem. political leaders

  • Head Women’s Division,

  • DNC


Frances Perkins

  • First female Cabinet member

  • Many New Deal reforms out of Labor

  • Led Social Security initiative

  • Helped bring in labor groups


1933 Conference on Women

  • Brought women’s groups like League of Women Voters, Women’s Trade Union League into problems of getting relief to women.

  • By 1935: 300K women

    on FERA work relief

    (12% of total on relief;

    10% of total women

    unemployed.)

FERA camp, 1934


Mary McLeod Bethune

  • Founded NCNW, 1935

  • “Black Cabinet”

  • Nat’l Youth Admin.

  • Fed. Council on Negro Affairs


Complex Picture

  • Depression was gendered experience

  • Expanded opportunities for white women

    (sometimes more than white males)

  • Continued individual achievement, esp. in emerging fields like film & aviation

  • Women shaped New Deal policies


Questions?


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