The right to self-determination, the dignity of the individual, the essential equality of all human beings: these are not just slogans or theories in the modern world but matters of passionate conviction. Women were bound to respond to this dynamic current, bound to take а fresh look at the roles, which history and tradition, as well as biology, assigned to them.
17th Century Women
The women, who first ventured into the American wilderness early in the 17th century and in the next 300 years took part in making it habitable, had а clear idea of what was expected of them. Both principle and practice seemed to make it plain that women were wholly subordinate to men, if not actually inferior in most respects. Rights and privileges were masculine concerns.
The survival of such а view was challenged from the first by facts of existence. As soon as the first settlers followed the explorers and adventurers, women were desperately wanted and needed in America. А group of the earliest Virginia colonists headed а list of "necessities" sent back to England with the category "wives", and as the frontier moved steadily westward, the supply of women never seemed to keep up with the demand. But it was far more than scarcity that enhanced women' s value. The work they performed was at least as hard as а man's — and often included almost the same tasks.
19th Century Women
The feelings about women underlying the conventional ideas of the 19th century continued to be а powerful influence. They determined that most working women should enter only certain occupations, and particularly those — such as textile and garment manufacturing and teaching — with some ostensible relationship to their traditional tasks. They determined that most married women would still devote themselves exclusively to family life. The conventional ideas persisted with remarkable vigor, and by а relatively small group of women in the 19th century were felt as an intolerable burden. These were the women who sought а place for themselves in higher education and professional careers and who fought for civil and political equality with men. In their own time they had to contend with ridicule, hostility, and their own doubts and dismay, but they are honored today for their part in opening to other women so many new doors.
Among the leaders of women's suffrage movement in the 19th century were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan В. Anthony. Susan B. Anthony was one of the founders of the National Woman Suffrage Association, the first organization to work for the right to vote for women. She helped to organize the 1848 Seneca Falls, New York, Women's Rights Convention, which issued the declaration that "all men and women are created equal." She worked tirelessly, by writing, lecturing, petitioning legislators, and organizing supporters, to achieve women's voting rights. She was subjected to verbal abuse and arrested in pursuit of her cause. Before her death in 1906, four states had granted women the right to vote. Her crowning achievement was yet to come some years later after her death.
It is а fact, however, that American women in one part of the country were apparently the first in the world to win equal voting rights with men. Thanks largely to the efforts of another determined woman, а large, plain-spoken, warmly witty storekeeper's wife named Esther Morris. Due to her efforts the Territory of Wyoming gave women the right to vote in 1869, and by 1916, sixteen states allowed women to vote. Finally, in recognition of their contribution to the war effort in World War I, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920 giving all women the right to vote. The changes that have occurred since have given a woman, in sum, far more time, more strength, more money, and more incentives of various other kinds to see what those choices mean to her.
20th Century Women
The main goal of the women’s rights movement in the early 20th century was to achieve equal pay for equal work. Women have experienced discrimination in employment since the founding of the nation. The issue has become а major one since the end of World War II when many women entered the job market. Job discrimination has taken two forms: access to jobs and pay for work done. Company employment practices and discrimination by male managers prevented women from getting work in other than traditional female jobs such as secretaries, low-skill factory workers, and household or restaurant service employees. Professional employment was limited to teaching and nursing. In many areas of employment in private industry, women who did the same work as men received less pay under the argument that men provided the primary family support. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 included Title VII, which banned discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race and religion. Employers, employment agencies, and unions were required to end discriminatory practices in hiring, salary offers, and apprenticeship programs. Companies now identify themselves as "Equal Opportunity Employers" and employment ads no longer list jobs as "men wanted." Many women have taken positions, such as police officers, engineers, airline pilots, and construction workers, that were previously held exclusively by men. The Equal Access to Employment Act of 1972 encouraged the admission of more 5 women to colleges and professional schools. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 required employers to provide equal pay for equal work.
21st Century Women
America today is utterly accustomed to the look of all women going to or from work. Wives and mothers have made it their choice to combine jobs and family life. More than a third of the women of working age, are job-holders, and they make up a third of the labor force. The more education a woman has, the more likely she is to be at work, and more than half the women college graduates are employed.
Legislation has allowed women to make significant gains in broadening their opportunities for employment; however, prejudices still block their advancement in some fields of employment. Though women now make up half of the work force in the nation their goals of equality have not been fully realized because men earn more on the average and continue to dominate in supervisory, management, and administrative positions.
While the circumstances of women’s lives obviously no longer call for the heroism of their pioneer great-grandmothers, women today still face a lot of problems to deal with.
Directions (1-8): For each statement or question, choose the number of the word of expression that, of those given, best completes the statement or answers the question.