History: Women's Roles in Twentieth-Century America

By Kunkel, Lilith R. | Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

History: Women's Roles in Twentieth-Century America


Kunkel, Lilith R., Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources


Martha May, WOMEN'S ROLES IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICA. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press (Women's Roles in American History), 2009. 233p. bibl. index. $59.95, ISBN 978-0313340154; e-book, ISBN 978-0313087721.

This new title in Greenwood's Women's Roles in American History series traces the changing roles of American women from the Progressive Era into the twenty-first century.

In theme-based chapters, Martha May (History, Western Connecticut State University) provides a chronological narrative of women's changing roles, discussing these changes in the context of social, economic, and technological change, the crises of the Depression; and two world wars. May pays special attention to the diversity of American women and to the factors differentiating women's experiences: race, ethnicity, religion, class, and region. The story she tells is one of great transformations offset by persistent inequalities and by continuing debates about women's proper role.

The first chapter focuses on expanding opportunities for work outside the home as the economy shifted from manufacturing to consumer goods and services; the second looks at women's roles in the family and the changing dynamics of family life. May explores women's roles as creators and subjects in both popular culture and the arts in the third chapter, and, in the fourth, she traces changes in women's education from the growth of public education and the creation of public universities and private colleges in the nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth century. The fifth chapter considers women and government from nineteenth-century discussions of voting rights and citizenship through the activism of the Progressive Era, the winning of the vote, government work, and political office holding. …

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