As we begin Women’s History Month, we should acknowledge that long before Rosie started riveting in relatively clean and safe surroundings, her forebearers were working (mostly unpaid) for millennia.
Too often, people associate women’s history solely with the image of Rosie the Riveter or suffragettes winning the right to vote in 1920. But we tend to forget that long before that, women worked for centuries in cottage industries, producing gloves, lace, and woolen goods in their cottages or homes. A huge leap occurred when women took these “handy” skills and transferred them to large looms run by steam power in the north of England and then New England. Often, the women working in these roles were on the lowest end of the social spectrum, and thus had no voice.
The First World War was a major shift. Now women were patriotic to take on paid roles outside of the domestic work that they had always done outside the home. By the end of 1918, American women made up nearly 20% of the workforce. Like their British sisters, once the American women had a taste of autonomy and contribution, they were not content to return to the farm or the home and lose the voice, and perhaps the pay packet, that they had gained once the men returned home. The “average” American woman then realized that the best way to make her voice heard was the ballot box.
So this Women’s History Month, let’s reflect on the contributions of the women before us and continue to celebrate their impact in our world every day. Read More Here