Women of all ages and colors have benefited from improved women's rights

We’ve come a long way, baby: changes in women’s rights since 1960

15 things American women could not do in 1960, that they can do now

Do your daughters or granddaughters have any idea how women’s rights have changed since the 1960s?

Do you sometimes hear young women say that they’re not feminists because there’s no need for feminism today?

Have you heard young women say that pioneers like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Coretta Scott King, and Maya Angelou are  not relevant to modern culture?

Most women know that the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified  in 1920, gave women the right to vote.

For the first 144 years of its existence, our country would not let women vote.
  Let that sink in for a moment.  Do YOU think that the women’s movement has no relevance today?

The fight for women’s rights is not over.  But we should celebrate the victories that have been won so far.

Here is a list of 15 things American women couldn’t do in 1960 that we can do today, in large part due to the speaking and writing of feminist pioneers like Friedan, Steinem, King, and Angelou, and thousands of other women who took part in the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s and beyond.

Along the way, I’ll tell you about my experiences with denial of women’s rights in my life since I graduated from college in 1968 at the height of the protests against the Vietnam War, the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement, and the beginning of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Here are 15 things American women couldn’t do in 1960, that they can do today:

1.    Get a credit card in her own name.

Credit: completecreditservices.com
Credit: completecreditservices.com

Until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, women were not able to apply for credit.

  • Although I had two college degrees and a good job, in 1972 I  was turned down for a Sunoco credit card in my own name.  My story appeared in the Proceedings of a Congressional hearing about women and credit, because I wrote to my U.S. Senator and told him what had happened.
  • Up until 1974, women had to have a male co-sign any application for credit, for a mortgage, or for any kind of loan. Often, women were asked whether they planned to become pregnant, or were taking  birth control pills to make sure they would not become pregnant and then lose or give up their jobs.

2.  Stop being fired for being pregnant.

Until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, women could be fired from their workplace for being pregnant.  Many lost their jobs in teaching, office work, and other careers because men believed that pregnant women would quit work once they gave birth.

  • I was laid off from my teaching job in 1977 and was refused unemployment compensation because my pregnancy was considered “a disabling condition” that meant I could not do the work of a teacher.
  • Before 1970, in many states, women lost their jobs when they married.  They would sometimes keep marriages secret as long as they could, until pregnancy occurred.  They knew that it meant the end of their employment.

3.  Report sexual harassment in the workplace.

Credit: workplacerantings.com
Credit: workplacerantings.com

The first time that a U.S. court recognized sexual harassment in the workplace was in 1977. It wasn’t until 1980 that sexual harassment was officially defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Before 1980, sexual harassment of women at work was rampant and there was nothing that women could do about it except quit.

Sexual harassment was common in high schools, colleges, and universities as well.

  • I changed my master’s degree program from broadcasting to American public address in 1969 to get away from the sexual overtures of my first graduate advisor.  My experience was not unusual at the time.
  • In the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, if a woman tried to tell someone in authority about sexual harassment that she was experiencing, she was often told that she must have imagined it, or that “boys will be boys”.
  • The brilliant but horrifying 1997 movie “GI Jane”, starring Demi Moore, showed the world the sexual harassment common in the U.S. military services, as the lead woman character attempts to qualify for the Navy Seals.
  • In 2016, thousands of women in the U.S. military are still reporting sexual assaults committed by their soldier, sailor, airman, and marine colleagues.

Sexual harassment is not over, but at least now it’s recognized as a crime.

4.  Get a no-fault divorce.

Until 1970, a woman could not obtain a divorce in most states unless she proved that her husband had committed adultery.

Before the No Fault Divorce law passed in California in 1969, that took effect on Jan. 1, 1970, spouses had to show the faults of the other party in order to obtain a divorce:  adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or felony.  Private investigators followed spouses to catch them in wrongdoing, often taking photographs to show the court.

President Ronald Reagan signed the law that allowed no-fault divorce in California beginning in 1970.

In many states before 1970, adultery was the only recognized ground for divorce.  Some states recognized “irreconcilable differences” as a reason, or “alienation of affection”.  Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse were not seen as reasons for divorce.

Over the next 40 years  after 1970, all the other states adopted no-fault divorce.  By 1983, all states except South Dakota and New York had no-fault divorce laws.  New York did not adopt no-fault divorce until 2010!

5.  Obtain a safe, legal abortion.

The Roe v. Wade case in 1973 protected a woman’s right to abortion until the fetus became viable at about 5 months of gestation.

Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis, extrapolating from data from North Carolina, concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967. (The Guttmacher Institute, 2003)

Before 1973, women in 34 of the 50 states had to go in secret to sympathetic nurses, unlicensed doctors, or foreign countries to obtain an abortion.

State Abortion Laws Before Roe

Note: Status of state laws in 1972. Source: Rachel Benson Gold, Abortion and Women’s Health: A Turning Point for America?, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York, 1990.

Hundreds of women died each year from infections or blood loss caused by badly-performed abortions.  Many of the abortions were to terminate unwanted pregnancies that occurred because birth control was unavailable, illegal, or forbidden by religious beliefs.

Abortion Mortality
The number of deaths from abortion has declined dramatically since Roe v. Wade.

Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Trends in Abortion in the United States, 1973-2000, January 2003.


Sex education was not provided by most parents or public schools except at a rudimentary level – telling 5th graders about menstruation and puberty.  Many girls (and boys) had no idea what caused pregnancy.

Less than 10% of physicians were women in 1970.  It was difficult for teenagers to ask a male doctor intimate questions about their own bodies.  Most teenagers had one or both parents present during doctor visits, so teenagers had no privacy.

The publication of the book Our Bodies, Ourselves in 1973 made information about women’s bodies widely available for the first time.  Pregnancy, menopause, sexuality, and other topics were discussed frankly and illustrated with drawings or photographs.  The book revolutionized women’s health care.

6.  Purchase contraceptive devices and medications to control her own fertility.

Before 1965, birth control devices and medications could not legally be sold to married or unmarried women in the U.S.  The Supreme Court decision (in Griswold v. Connecticut) gave married couples the right to use birth control, ruling that it was protected in the Constitution as a right to privacy. However, millions of unmarried women in 26 states were still denied birth control.

The Comstock Act of 1873, a federal law, prohibited the mailing of “any article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of conception or procuring of abortion” as well as contraceptive information. This meant that contraceptives could not be sent through the U.S. mail.  Many states passed similar laws.

Nearly 100 years later, in 1966, the federal government began public funding of contraception services for low-income families.

In 1971, Congress finally repealed the key elements of the Comstock Act.

Some states kept birth control laws despite the repeal of the Comstock Act.

But in 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that a Massachusetts law that prohibited unmarried people from receiving contraception was unconstitutional. http://family.findlaw.com/reproductive-rights/birth-control-and-the-law-basics.html

A 1972 Supreme Court decision in  Eisenstadt v. Baird assured nationwide access to contraception regardless of marital status.

7. Own and control property in her own name.

Credit: ask.com
Credit: ask.com

In English common law, upon which much of U.S. law is based, women were not seen as legal persons after they married.  Their being was incorporated into the husband’s being.  Women ceased to exist in a legal sense after marriage.

An unmarried woman required the permission of her father or brother in order to own property; she was seen as a legal person who had to be supervised..

The full end of the legal subordination of a wife to her husband finally occurred in  Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455 (1981), a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held a Louisiana Head and Master law, which gave sole control of marital property to the husband, unconstitutional.

That’s 1981 — did you get that?  Just 37 years ago.  Most of the readers of this blog post are older than 37, and can remember what it was like to be less than a legal person.

8.  Get a loan in her own name.

In 1974, the  Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed in the U.S. Congress. Until then, banks required single, widowed or divorced women to bring a man along to cosign any credit application, regardless of their income.

Banks would also discount the value of a woman’s wages when considering how much credit to grant, by as much as 50%.

Today, women’s rights include the right to be granted a loan if she meets the criteria set  up by the bank or credit company.  Millions of women own homes, borrow money to buy cars, and get loans for their businesses.

9. Have equal employment opportunity in applying for and being hired for jobs.

In 1964,  the Federal Civil Rights Act passed in Congress.  This law included Title VII, which guaranteed equal opportunity in employment.

Title VII is the statutory basis not only for equal opportunity and sex discrimination cases, but also for sexual harassment cases as well.  It is supposed to end discrimination by gender, age, race, and disability.

The Civil Rights Act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce workplace equality.

Credit: natlawreview.com
Credit: natlawreview.com

But all discrimination against women in employment did not suddenly disappear in 1964.  It persists even today. The EEOC is kept busy by thousands of discrimination complaints each year.

  • When I applied for jobs in the 1970s, I was routinely asked whether my husband would “allow” me to work.  I was asked how I would manage the homemaking duties that employers assumed I would do:  cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing clothes, and so on, while working outside the home.
  • Today, in 2016, when people find out that I work as a writer, I am often asked why I haven’t fully retired, why I haven’t chosen to relax and enjoy my golden years.

10.  Identify the concept of Domestic Violence.

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act.  This long-overdue law funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence,  allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes, and provides training for police and court officials to increase their sensitivity.  It helped recognize that women’s rights include the right not to be assaulted.

Credit: domesticviolenceinfo.ca
Credit: domesticviolenceinfo.ca

VAWA  created for the first time a federal right to sue an assailant for gender-based violence.

In some states, violence against a wife is not a crime, and the rape of a wife is not prohibited. VAWA did not change that. Three to four million women are still beaten each year by intimate partners, according to the Department of Justice.

As late as the 1970s and early 1980s, police were reluctant to intervene when men beat their wives, girlfriends, or daughters.  Police responding to a call from a neighbor or relative about a man beating his wife would often take the man outside and talk to him until he calmed down, and then the police would leave.

Ironically, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was considered “progressive” to treat domestic violence as a family problem rather than a criminal matter; at the time, coercive law enforcements in general were unpopular and many offenses against the public order were decriminalized. Thus, a 1967 police manual said that “in dealing with family disputes, the power of arrest should be exercised only as a last resort.” The American Bar Association took this position as well; its 1973 guidelines recommended that at least in urban areas, “the resolution of conflict such as that which occurs between husband and wife” should be conducted by the police “without reliance upon criminal assault or disorderly conduct statutes.” Conflict mediation was regarded as the primary police function in what was then called domestic disputes. – See more at: http://www.iwf.org/news/2432535/Domestic-Violence:-An-In-Depth-Analysis#sthash.Xs1ctsBg.dpuf

People believed that wife-beating was just something you had to live with.  It was thought to be a “right” of a husband. More than 1/3 of all women have been or currently are victims of intimate partner violence. (http://ncadv.org/files/National%20Statistics%20Domestic%20Violence%20NCADV.pdf)

Very gradually, this tradition began to change.  The change started in Minnesota.

In 1974, the first shelter in the U.S. for battered women opened in St. Paul, Minnesota. By the mid-1990’s, 20 years later, there were over 1,000 such shelters nationwide, but with very limited bed space and funding. Facilities located in large cities report that they had to turn away as many as 70% of the women who sought temporary respite from violence in their own homes. http://wlh.law.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/cunnea-timeline2.pdf

In contrast, there are more than 3,800 animal shelters in the U.S.

There is still limited bed space and funding for battered women’s shelters in 2016.  Few shelters will accept children along with a battered woman.  Many are supported solely by donations, not by the cities or states where they are located.

Many people still accept men beating their wives.  The culture of violence has not disappeared.  It will take many years of work and education to put an end to domestic violence, but a start has been made.

11.  Be eligible for most jobs in the U.S. armed services.

In WW1, thousands of women served as nurses and in other supporting roles in major armies. It was almost the same in WW2, with women performing nursing, clerical, and support roles. Over 60,000 Army nurses served during WW2, and 150,000 women served as WACS (Women’s Army Corps).   In the U.S. and Britain, women pilots served as pilots in bombers and in ferrying planes across the Atlantic to England for the U.S. troops to use. The Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) flew as civil service pilots and test pilots also.

TIME magazine photo by Bettman-Corbis
TIME magazine photo by Bettman-Corbis

In 1970 the first women were promoted to brigadier general in the Army, nominated by President Richard Nixon.

In 1971, the first Air Force woman was promoted to brigadier general. In 1972, the Navy promoted the first woman to rear admiral. In 1978, the Marines promoted the first woman to brigadier general.

In 1972, the Reserve Office Training Corps (ROTC) opened to Army and Navy women.

In 1976, the first group of women were admitted to the U.S. military academies – West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy.

In 2010, the U.S. Navy authorized women to serve on submarines for the first time.

Today, in 2016, 78% of the positions in the Army are open to women. In the air force, 99% of career fields are open to women. In 2015, women were admitted to Army Ranger school for the first time. Two women graduated from Army Ranger school in August 2015, and a third in October 2015.

In 1988, NASA selected its first woman astronaut.

12.  Apply for most types of civilian jobs.

President Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act of 1963
President Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act of 1963

Even though the Equal Pay Act of 1963 made pay discrimination illegal on the basis of gender, pay inequity still exists today between men and women with the same job duties. More jobs are open to women today than were open in the 1960s, but not all are open yet.

In the 1960s, the jobs open to women included secretary, teacher, nurse, librarian, maid, hair stylist, and cook.

Beginning in the 1970s, women began to be admitted to schools of medicine, law, dentistry, and business. More women went to college and entered the work force than ever before. Women began to demand professional jobs in broadcasting and print journalism, music, sports, higher education, police, fire, accounting, pharmacy,

  • When I applied at Twin Cities TV stations in the 1970s for jobs as a camera operator or floor director, I was turned down because the unions that controlled those jobs did not accept women.

Up until the 1990s, many jobs were not open to women at all. Women were not seen as capable of doing upper-level jobs such as manager, department head, CEO, company vice president, mayor, U.S. Senator, computer programmer, systems analyst, hospital administrator, university president, high school principal, school superintendent, etc.

Women have gradually been admitted to these jobs, but still constitute only a small proportion of the people holding such positions.

Change in Women’s Representation

In Select Occupations                                            

1970

2006-2010

Registered nurses                              

97.3%

   91.2%

Dental assistants                                   

97.9%

   96.3%

Cashiers                                        

84.2%

   74.7%

Elementary and middle school teachers            

83.9%

   79.3%

Pharmacists                                                 

 12.1%

   52.6%

Accountants                                      

 24.6%

   60.0%

Computer programmers                              

 24.2%

   24.4%

Physicians and surgeons                   

  9.7%

   32.4%

Lawyers and judges                            

  4.9%

   33.4%

Police officers                                                   

  3.7%

   14.8%

Civil engineers                                        

  1.3%

   12.7%

Source: 1970 Equal Employment Opportunity Tabulation based on the decennial census and 2006-2010 Equal Employment Opportunity Tabulation based on the American Community Survey http://www.census.gov/how/pdf/EEO_infographic.pdf
SOURCE U.S. Census Bureau  http://www.census.gov

13.  Be accepted at graduate schools and some male-only colleges and universities.

In the late 1960s, women made up only a tiny fraction of the students admitted to law schools and medical schools – less than 1%.

Credit: en.wikipedia.org
Credit: en.wikipedia.org

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at educational institutions that are recipients of federal funds. Popularly called “Title IX”, this law opened the door for women to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court – the first woman to serve on the Court.  Justice O’Connor served until 2006, when she retired.  Today, three women sit on the Supreme Court:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

14.  Have opportunities to participate in school sports.

Women stood on the sidelines of most sports before 1970, participating only as cheerleaders or fans.  But that changed in 1972, thanks to the Civil Rights Act again.  The 1972 Education Amendments Act opened the door for girls and women to participate in school sports.

Credit: pd4pic.com
Credit: pd4pic.com

1972 Title IX of the Education Amendments Act  guaranteed equal access to academic and athletic resources regardless of gender.

This law had far-reaching consequences for girls and women.

The passage of Title IX, the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, expanded high school athletic opportunities to include girls, revolutionizing mass sports participation in the United States.
Sports offerings for boys and girls changed after the passage of this legislation.  Girls‘ sports participation rose dramatically both following the enactment of Title IX and after its enforcement increased.
About half of all girls currently participate in sports during high school; however, there remains a substantial gap between girls’ and boys’ participation in many states. (Betsey Stevenson, “Title IX and the Evolution of High School Sports”, 2007)
Today, girls participate in a wide variety of high school sports.  Track and field is the No. 1 sport for girls, followed by basketball, volleyball, soccer, fast-pitch softball, cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, competitive spirit squads and lacrosse. (https://www.nfhs.org/articles/high-school-participation-increases-for-25th-consecutive-year/)

15.  Serve on a jury.

Credit: theeconomiccollapseblog.com
Credit: theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Bet you didn’t know this:  women were excluded from serving on juries until 1957 in many states, and until 1994  women could be excluded from juries without cause if one of the attorneys objected. 

As late as 1942 only twenty-eight state laws allowed women to serve as jurors, but women had the right to claim exemption based on their sex.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 gave women the right to serve on federal juries, but not until 1973 could women serve on juries in all fifty states.

In J.E.B. v. Alabama in 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court held that peremptory challenges are impermissible if their effect is to discriminate on the basis of gender when seating a jury panel.  “When persons are excluded from participation in our democratic processes solely because of race or gender, this promise of equality [under the law] dims, and the integrity of our judicial system is jeopardized.”

Even though we’ve come a long way since the 1960s, we can’t stop fighting for women’s rights.

Teenage girls today have a much broader range of opportunities available to them than did those of us who were Baby Boomers.  But the fight is not over.  Women still are not considered equal to men, and do not receive equal pay for equal work.

Credit: quotesgram.com
Credit: quotesgram.com

It’s important that every mother and grandmother, every father and grandfather, support their girls’ dreams, encourage their educational achievement, and respect their decisions about the course of their lives.

 

Have you experienced discrimination in hiring, promotion, obtaining credit, participating in sports, or in other ways during your life? What have been your experiences with women’s rights?

I’d love to read your story in the “Comments”.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Laurinda Porter
Acknowledgements: worldartsme.com, theeconomiccollapseb more...

26 thoughts on “We’ve come a long way, baby: changes in women’s rights since 1960”

    1. Hi Brent,
      Thanks for reading and commenting so quickly. I wonder whether you’ve heard any stories about women’s rights in Canada? I’d love to hear what you’ve learned.
      Rin

      1. I personally don’t know many stories… although this would be dating back to my mom’s era. (She was born in 1955, the same year Marty McFly went Back to the Future…)

        I do recall my parents saying that — at one time — they worked at the same place, and my mom got paid a lower hourly wage strictly based on gender. (About 20-25% less I think…)

        I also know that all laws regarding the regulation of abortion in Canada were struck down in 1988 as a violation of our Charter. (The Charter of Rights and Freedoms being similar to the Constitution in the US)

        To the best of my knowledge, there are no laws on the books presently anywhere in Canada pertaining to abortion. It’s been a woman and her doctor, and that’s it. (Plus, it’s free and covered by our universal health care)

        And unlike the US, we have one criminal code for the entire country… so what is considered a crime here (what you guys would call a felony) is the same in every province.

        My dad told me a couple months ago that when he was a kid in the 1950s, boys had to take a shop class at school while girls had to do home economics or something like that.

        All kinda crazy, if you ask me.

        Brent

        1. Wow! Thanks, Brent! I did not know abortion was legal and free in Canada, or that the criminal code was the same in every province (my bad/ignorance). Thanks for explaining that. So your mom was paid less than your dad at one time, and your dad had to take shop while your mom took home ec – it was the same in my elementary school and high school. Girls were not allowed to take shop, auto mechanics, drafting, etc. Thanks for the stories!
          Rin

          1. Yeah, it’s kind of a neat system here…

            Civil offences (what you guys would call misdemeanors) vary between provinces, at least a little bit…

            Traffic offences on provincial highways, for instance, might be different in Manitoba than they are in Ontario.

            Regulations for who can sell liquor is another example. I think Ontario is the last province in the country that still forces consumers to buy liquor from a government-operated liquor store. (The LCBO) But that will soon be changing. Just another example of how laws could vary between provinces.

            But the big stuff — crimes, you guys call felonies — follow one code across the country.

            The details are a bit fuzzy to me, but at one time it used to be that to get an abortion, it had to be approved by some sort of committee or council…

            A woman would go plead her case before a group of five (typically) men and they would decide whether or not she was eligible.

            In more conservative parts of the country, a woman was almost always denied… whereas in more liberal parts of the country, it was almost always approved.

            The abortion council thing got challenged under the part of our Charter that guarantees “security of the person” since access to health care was not being made equally available in all parts of the country.

            So the abortion council law thing was struck down in 1988, and no politician has ever dared to tackle that topic again.

            At least this is how I remember learning it all in high school law class.

            (From what I hear, though, politicians in the US seem to have no problem inserting their two cents on the issue… I recall when that Planned Parenthood clinic was attacked in Oregon a few months ago, many took to Twitter to praise the gunman as a “hero” or something like that… very different culture south of the border.)

            Anyway, I’ve taken up enough space in your comment section here. And it looks like you’ve got a number of folks with some great insights to add to this post.

            Chat soon,

            Brent
            Brent Jones recently posted…20 Awesome Ways to Promote Affiliate Products as a FreelancerMy Profile

          2. Brent,
            Your insights are so interesting! You know much more about the U.S. than I know about Canada, I’m embarrassed to say. Strange how our two countries can live next to one another and yet have such different approaches to issues of health, law, and consequences for breaking the law. Thanks for the multiple examples you gave, and especially for your explanation of how abortion used to be treated, vs. how it’s treated today. This will interest a lot of people.

            Rin

          3. What can I say? I love telling stories. LOL

            Partially because we get so much American TV up here, Canadians know a lot about the US.

            Not necessarily the other way around, though… as Andréa and I are constantly reminded when her friends and family ask questions like, “Do you guys have grocery stores up there? Or do you just hunt your own food?”

            😉

            Truth be told, our two countries aren’t so different… and because both Canada and the US are such large countries, there are big variances in the way people think and act in different parts.

            But I digress.

            I don’t know if I shared a ton of useful info here — but your post sure did illustrate a lot of stuff I never knew. Great timing publishing this with Women’s History Month.

          4. Brent,
            You figured out my raison d’etre: Women’s History Month. You shared great information. I hope you’ll come back and write comparisons for other posts in the future!

            Rin

  1. Oh my, how this brings back memories! After completing my first Masters degree in 1971, along with a male colleague, I was hired by a progressive children’s mental health centre. On the first day of employment, I was shocked when the group life insurance benefits were explained. Men were entitled to 3 times annual salary in benefits while women received insurance only in the amount of the annual salary. I went to the director of the agency and complained. To his credit, he had the benefits equalized within 3 months. He told me that usually women depended on their husband’s life insurance. Although I appreciated this, I did remind him that my husband might need to depend on my insurance!

    In response to Brent’s comments, many laws have been overhauled in Canada. Many of our medical schools now graduate more females than males. Equal pay legislation has had an impact throughout the country. In November, our new prime minister appointed and equal number of men and women to his cabinet. Nonetheless, a glass ceiling remains in corporate board rooms and in senior executive positions.
    We also need to address how males are attracted to traditional female roles. We need more male nurses, more teachers in day care centres and in public schools so that children see both sexes caring for and nurturing children. Gender roles in families are changing but slowly especially in rural parts of Canada.

    1. Jeanette,
      My goodness, your insurance story sounds familiar! The same thing was true when I started working for a textbook publisher in 1968. Men got a large life insurance policy, and we secretaries got just our annual salary, which wasn’t much in 1968! Your comment brought back memories for me, and not all pleasant! It’s so great that things have gradually improved in many areas.

      I’m glad things are changing in Canada as well. The new prime minister has great potential, from what I’ve read about him. Progress is slow but steady. We have to keep on keepin’ on!
      Rin

        1. Brent,
          I’m really looking forward to following his administration in office! He is the kind of enlightened politician we could use here. There was an interview with him on our TV show “60 Minutes” last night. He’s a fascinating person!
          Rin

  2. Hi Dr. Rin and All. I’m back and anxious to say a few things about this wonderful post. First, let me commend you on your research and format. This post, even though long, is easy to scroll through and read. I was born in 1939, so I experienced many of the barriers that you discuss. My mother was very liberated in her ideas, and encouraged us to read and plan for education. However, when I discovered the few choices open to me when I was considering what to do in life, I felt very bitter and betrayed. It only got worse as I made my way into the world. I chose to be a secretary, but soon realized that opportunities were few, and I was doomed to always be a subordinate, not a leader. When I married, I discovered that I had to get my husband’s “permission” to do anything that involved credit or making large purchases. After my two children were born, I decided to go to university, and limit my children to two. I was denied a tubal ligation (although my husband agreed to this) because the doctors thought I was too young to “know my own mind” and had to go to another town and lie about my age to have the procedure done. Later, as I worked my way through the teaching profession, I lost many opportunities for administration because I was a woman (although I had two degrees and was a respected professional) because the employers felt that “men needed the job to support their families”. Well, as you can tell, I can go on and on! But I think my darkest hour was when I tried to get a job when my children were still quite young (I had very good child care arranged) because the employer felt I should be home with my children. I’ll never forget his authoritarian, nasty words, “Just go back to your husband and forget this nonsense.” So there you are. That’s why I get upset when young women think the battle is over. Thanks for listening. And thanks for your terrific post!

    1. Diane,
      My goodness, you have experienced SO MANY of the forms of discrimination that I wrote about, it’s mindboggling. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your reference to trying to get a tubal ligation resonated with me, and I had forgotten my experience – it was the same: a doctor told me that I was “too young” and might change my mind, so he refused to schedule it for me. Isn’t it amazing what we women have had to put up with? And I felt bad when reading about the employer who refused to hire you because your children were young. Unreal. I remain hopeful that our adult children have experienced less of this bull%&@$ and that the grandchildren born after 2001 will be immune to most of it. Thank you for writing!
      Rin

  3. It really was just a few years ago when half the population was denied full rights of citizenship. It’s shocking to read about all the things women couldn’t do just because of their gender. I believe that there is a segment of our society that would love to roll many of these rights back… and younger women especially, who take their rights for granted, better pay attention. Great post!

    1. Janis, you are right: there definitely is a segment of the population that are trying their best to reverse many of our rights. All we have to do is look at the court dockets to see the thousands of attempts to curtail our rights to control our own bodies, as well as the rights of rural women to vote, the rights of all of us to be free from the danger of guns in the hands of dangerous felons and the criminally insane, etc. Gen X and Millennial women should wake up and get active.
      Rin

  4. I wrote a response to you in my blog, explaining what happened when I tried to write a lengthy comment about this article. But as you might know now, it disappeared. It was actually a rant about the terrible things that happened to me during the 1960s and 1970s, in my efforts to get ahead in my work and my life. It’s all water under the bridge, and I took what I learned and made something out of the lessons I learned. Someday I might write about it. Thanks, Dr. Rin!

    1. Diane,
      I didn’t get a notification that you had written something in your blog about my post – did you delete it? I’m sorry I missed it. I appreciated the comment you wrote a couple of days ago about your experiences. I think it was Betty Friedan who said that if every woman told her story, the world would change forever.
      Rin

  5. Wow – things have really moved forward for women in the last four decades!

    I cannot believe that women were unable to take out a mortgage without a husband/partner. They really were seen as the lower sex.

    The sexual harassment sounds terrifying. It appeared to be the norm for women to openly be ogled even by male relatives.

    1. Phoenicia,
      If I had a time machine I could take you back and show you some terrible times for women. In some countries around the world, there still are terrible times. I’m sure you’ve heard about the restrictions on women in places like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and other countries in Africa. We women in the U.S., U.K., and the European continent are fortunate that our mothers and grandmothers fought for our rights. Today, we have to keep fighting against men who want to roll back the progress we have made.

      Rin

  6. I wrote a response to you in my blog, explaining what happened when I tried to write a lengthy comment about this article. But as you might know now, it disappeared. It was actually a rant about the terrible things that happened to me during the 1960s and 1970s, in my efforts to get ahead in my work and my life. It’s all water under the bridge, and I took what I learned and made something out of the lessons I learned. Someday I might write about it. Thanks, Dr. Rin!

    1. Hi Jessica,
      I don’t remember getting any information about your comment on this article. I’m very sorry to hear that it disappeared. Do you think that the disappearance was done by WordPress or by an agency where you live? I would very much like to read about what happened to you in the 1960s and 1970s, if it is safe for you to write about it.

      Dr Rin

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