Women in the Workforce: Then vs Now

Women have been working, paid or not, since the dawn of time. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, and daughters, but most importantly we are workers. Our jobs help us grow as we move through the motions of our crazy lives, and for the past 100 years we have been able to get more paid positions in the workforce- a feat that the women before us would be extremely proud of. The United States’ Department of Labor released the top 10 occupations of women from 1920 to 2018, and it’s no surprise that many of those top occupations have changed throughout the years. However, some things never change, and there are a few professions that we have kept as our top occupations throughout the years.

As I was writing this article, I originally wanted to write about how important it is to get more women in STEM jobs. However, as important as that idea is, I realized that I was looking down on the women from a hundred years ago just because they had jobs that didn’t involve science or math. I’d be a lousy feminist if I didn’t acknowledge the struggles that women in the workforce went through back in the 1920’s. Just because they were doing laundry and other domestic/personal services doesn’t mean that they were any less productive or important than the women today who are able to work at NASA and Microsoft today. Bookkeepers and typewriters endured struggles back then just as award-winning novelists and professors do now.

We need to remember that a woman’s worth is not determined by her job, no matter how far from STEM it might be. My mother is a secretary, but that doesn’t make her any less deserving of respect than the person that does her taxes for a living. It is necessary to work on dismantling the negative connotation that comes with working as a server or as a florist, so that women feel encouraged to work in whatever field they want. All women, regardless of their occupation, should be able to feel safe and appreciated at their jobs, not judged and disrespected. Nurses are just as important as teachers, and anyone who says otherwise is a part of the problem.

As we continue to move into a new world of working from home, it is important that we encourage each other to thrive in our preferred professions. Women have been working since long before 1920, and we will continue to work long after 2018, so it is good to remember that while the Top 10 Occupations for Women may change, a woman’s worth and her value to society does not.

Written By

Madeline Thomas

Writing intern at Hired By, Ohio University student studying journalism and music production/industry recording, and writer for Odyssey Online.

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