The first half of the nineteenth century saw a lot of change. Industrialization introduced new job possibilities, new notions about work, and boom-and-bust economic cycles.
Women’s responsibilities changed considerably during this time. Women’s roles in the home were altered as a result of industrialization, but they also gained new possibilities as industrial wage workers.
Women’s position in society changed dramatically as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to industrialisation, the family would have been the center of production, and women’s labour would have been primarily restricted to the domestic domain, but no less physically demanding as a result.
Women were kept occupied by tasks like as collecting water and managing animals, in addition to dressing and feeding their families, and many often took on extra labor at home, such as hand-spinning or weaving. Although the cottage industry, as it was known, did not completely disappear with the onset of large-scale production, the influence of technology on women’s life was permanent.
Women formed part of the rising working classes who worked in mines and mills as machines replaced human labor and developing businesses required coal. Many families in the late 18th century would seek employment together, with husband, wife, and children all working at the same factory or pit, while many single women saw working outside the house as a way to gain more freedom.
Despite the income inequality, many factories had hazardous working conditions for women. They may labor up to 80 hours per week, had little breaks, and were often provided inedible food. Elizabeth Bentley, at 23 years old, was examined by a parliamentary inquiry into the working conditions of textile workers in 1832.
She recounted working in a flax mill’s card room near Leeds. “It was so dirty that the dust crept into my lungs, and the task was so difficult… I became so ill that as I dragged the baskets down, I yanked my bones out of their sockets.”
Domestic tasks traditionally considered as women’s job persisted – unpaid – alongside the hard hours and physical demands of industrial labor. Cooking, cleaning, and childcare responsibilities remained unavoidable.
Few employers, maybe predictably, were sympathetic. “If we were a quarter of an hour late, they would take off half an hour; we only earned a penny an hour, and they would take a halfpenny extra,” Bentley said of the practice of “quartering.”
Another typical occupation was in the mines of Lancashire and Yorkshire, where women worked in physically demanding tasks underground with men until the mid-nineteenth century.
Even after they stopped working, women were still expected to care for their children and function as housewives, with no extra financial assistance from the government.
But, for better or worse, as legislation forced more women out of the workforce, ideas of gender evolved to match this new dynamic; men who went to work were seen as breadwinners and providers, and by the mid-nineteenth century, the female ideal had evolved into that of mother, moral guardian, and homemaker.
Industrialization transformed the family from a unit of production to a unit of consumption, resulting in a decrease in fertility and a shift in the interaction between spouses and parents and children. This shift was unequal and slow, and it differed by social class and employment.
Industrialization introduced new job possibilities, new notions about work, and boom-and-bust economic cycles. Women’s responsibilities changed considerably during this time. Women’s roles in the home were altered as a result of industrialization, but they also gained new possibilities as industrial wage workers.
All of our interactions, particularly in our families, are shaped by gender roles (what it means to be a boy, a girl, or someplace else on the gender spectrum). Gender roles have an impact on how partners divide home responsibilities, how family members communicate, and how parents engage with their children.
They made the decision to begin the Women’s Suffrage Act. Women were treated as though they were property, with little or no regard. Women and men should be treated equally. During the Industrial Revolution, there was a spike in the number of employment available, which meant that women began to work alongside men in factories.
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