In 1890, less then one half of one percent of women were
employed gainfully outside of the home. Over the next hundred
years, women have not only gained access to jobs outside of the
home, but also fought for equality in the work place. These
struggles have not been easy by any means. Women have overcome
many obstacles in there journey into the work force, none grater
then the views of their male piers. Many males thought and
continue to think that there is no place for women in the work
place. Women made there strides into the work force by not only
following examples of their courageous pioneers, but also by
banding together to show their strength.
During the mid 1800's a small number of women begin their
assault on, what were at the time considered, male-only jobs.
Fields such as teaching, preaching, medicine, and law were all
jobs domenated by men. Women had made some progress in the work
force before the 1850's. In the mid nineteenth century women
were the majority for grade school teachers, up from the ten
percent of elementary teachers, that were teachers in the
colonial period. This can be largely attributed not to the fact
that men were more accepting of the idea that women belonged in
the work place, but rather men were drown to the higher paying
and more socially appreciated managerial jobs brought on by the
industrial revolution. School boards did not mind these talented
leaving because they could higher a "less qualified women" for as
low as one fifth of males salary for the same job.
Susan B. Anthony was the first women to publicly speak out
against this gross injustice towards women. After being fired to
"replace a male teacher fired for incompetence,she was paid one
third of the salary he had received,"(Reifert 74)she went to the
state teachers convention of 1853 to register a protest. After
being hushed once and a half hour of debate she was finally
allowed to speak her peace. Although nothing became of her first
encounter with the women's movement, she quit teaching and went
on to become one of the great leaders of the women's movement.
Antoinette Brown was anther women that was not happy
with the status quo of women in society. She started, in 1846,
by attending Oberlin college, which only nine years before had
become the first co-educational college. Oberlin, although being
very receptive of women in their women's department, they did not
let women take any courses besides the ones offered in the women
department. This lead to a conflict when Brown made her
intentions of obtaining a theology degree known. Brown won the
battle to attend the classes she needed for her degree, but this
was by far not the last battle for equality she would have to
fight. Oberlan "refused to grant her a students license to
preach.," and after her course work was completed Oberlan would
not " allow her to take part in the graduation ceremony, be
licensed, ordained, or even have her name registered on the class
roll."(Reifert 76) It took three years, of hard looking for
Brown to find a Protestant Church that would allow her to be
ordained. Finally after all of her struggles Antoinette Brown
was ordained the first protestant female minister in America.
"Women in the early 1800's were discriminated against both
as practitioner and as patient."(Reifert 77) Women were thought
that it was wrong for them to seek help from doctors for any
problems that had anything remotely to do with their reproductive
system. It was also thought that Women were to fragile to deal
with the work that goes with being a doctor. Elizabeth Blackwell
saw first hand the effects of the first problem mentioned. She
watched a family friend die because she was embarrassed to bring
her problem to the attention of her male doctor. Blackwell was
not detoured by the Idea that no medical school would take her,
because she could not compete with males. After all almost
everyone at the time believed that "the female brain was
different then the male brain."(Reifert 78) Blackwell finally
gained admittance to Geneva College after a unanimous vote of the
student body to let her in. This vote should not be taken as a
sign that men were becoming more accepting of women infiltrating
what was formally known as male only territory. It should be
noted that most of the students believed that either the vote was
a joke or that Blackwell would not stay around long. Blackwell
proved all the skeptics wrong by graduating in the top of her