How did the lifestyle and status of women change during this period?

Changing attitudes towards women

The impact of World War One

Before the war, girls were expected to behave modestly and wear long dresses. When they went out, they had to be accompanied by an older woman or a married woman.

It was totally unacceptable for a woman to smoke in public. Women were employed in jobs that were traditionally associated with women, eg servants, seamstresses, secretaries, nursing.

During the war, women started to be employed in different types of jobs, eg factory work, replacing the men who had gone to fight in the war in Europe.

Organisations such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) had been fighting for decades to get the vote for women. As women had contributed so much to the war effort, it was difficult to refuse their demands for political equality. As a result, the Nineteenth Amendment to the constitution became law in 1920, giving women the right to vote. Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman to be elected governor of state in 1924.

There was a change as far as work was concerned too, with an increase of 25 per cent in the number of women working during the 1920s. By 1929, 10.6 million women were working.

By now, independent women of the middle classes and above had more money to spend. Because of this, advertising companies started targeting women in their campaigns to encourage them to buy their new products.