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Women in Industry

class, labor, positions, dependent, economic and equal

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WOMEN IN INDUSTRY. In primitive so ciety men were fishers, fighters, hunters, while women fashioned the hut, gathered and stored the seeds, roots, and fruits, tamed young animals, prepared the meat and skins from the animals slain by men, and made garments and utensils. When the pastoral stage followed immediately on the hunting stage, women's former varied activi ties were narrowed until only certain duties— those of indoor life and preparing products for home use—remained. Woman was looked npon as the roarer of children, the minister to men's comfort and pleasure, and the producer of do mestic necessities, and • was made dependent. It is of special interest that among savage tribes where women were as efficient food producers as men they held respected positions.

Woman's work through has. how ever, been dependent upon the class to which she belonged. The principal wives of chiefs were the first to be relieved of all labor. The middle class show more clearly the changes of the cen turies. In the lowest class even in the twentieth century, among barbarians as well as among Eu ropean peasants, women undertake heavy manual labor. As long as a large portion of necessary articles were made by men in the homes or on a small scale. women supplemented household duties by aiding in weaving. sewing, and dairy ing. The factory system and the improvements of the nineteenth century have changed the house hold from a centre of production to one merely for consumption. These changes have had a mo mentous effect on woman's economic position. Women have now two important economic func tions in the industrial world: (1) as buyers and (2) as producers. The invasion of the domestic sphere by factory-made products has made every woman a buyer. The importance of this function has only recently been recognized. Many women have also entered the field of production, and their number continues to increase. In 1835 only seven industries were open to women besides do mestic service in the 'United States. The census

of 1900 makes a return of 303 separate occupa tions, in only eight of which are there no women workers.

The introduction of machinery created a de mand for the cheap labor of women. In 1816 there were 66.000 women spinning; in 1860, 65 per cent. of those employed in textile work were women. American and English women of the lower classes. both married and unmarried, en tered factories. A large number filled positions as domestic servants. more servants being re quired as the country grew• richer. This work soon fell into the hands of foreigners—Irish, Ger mans, Swedes, who in turn filled the factories. The steps have been from the kitchen to the fac tory, and then to shops. Women of the middle class were also forced into industrial life. The rising standard of living made it impossible for men to support so many idle women; the same reason made the prospect of marriage uncertain, especially in England and Eastern America, where women are in excess; and above all, by the new• methods, W0111011 at home were deprived of their occupations. These women beeaine dress makers, teachers, and clerks. The Civil 'War was an important agent in determining the future of many women, as it left them dependent upon themselves. Among the well-to-do one class, stimulated by the spirit of the age. has made de mands to enter business and the professions. From these women arose the cry for equal rights, equal education. and equal opportunities. The members of the other class, as the result of free dom from labor, have either become economic parasites. or they are using their freedom to improve sor•ial conditions.

Prejudice has met the efforts of women to en ter the professions and higher positions, but the development of business from ISM to 1900 has opened many positions in the clerical forces necessary for large establishments. The exten sion of the factory system to food. clothing, and laundry has increased the demand for women workers.

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