Effects of Gender Roles during the Great Depression and World War 2

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A role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender which is determined by the prevailing cultural norms is called a gender role. Both men and women have been told how to behave, dress, and how to present oneself to the public. An example of gender roles in society is women are supposed to be feminine, graceful, polite, nurturing, emotional, take care of kids, cook, clean; while men are supposed to be muscular, aggressive, tall, take care of finances, do repairs. These are gender roles that society puts on us, but these gender roles are also considered stereotypical. With this day in age nobody really follows these gender roles. There are many men who take care of kids, cook, clean, are nurses, and much more, just like there are women who do repairs, finances, are muscular, etc. While I'm are talking about gender roles, I want to talk about the effects of gender roles during the great depression and the cold war, and if there were any similarities or differences between them.

Reaching its lowest point in history the Great Depression caused over 15 million Americans became unemployed as well as half of the country's banks failed. But what caused the Great Depression. Well as the U.S. economy started to increase swiftly it caused the nation's total wealth to triple between 1920-1929 causing this period in history to be labeled the Roaring Twenties. In NYC there was a stock market in the middle of Wall Street at the New York stock exchange. The stock market was where you could see all types of people such as multimillionaires to janitors, and even cooks pour all their savings into stocks. Due to everyone pouring their savings into stocks the stock market noticed a speedy change which caused it to reach its peak in 1929 of August. As an outcome, unemployment started to increase, compared to their real value stock prices increased, as well as productions started to decline. On top of that banks had an overabundance of substantial loans that couldn't be dissolved, plummeting food prices and dry spells were affecting agriculture sectors, employment salaries were cut-rate, and buyer's debt increased in size.

In the summer of 1929, the U.S. economy infiltrated a vague recession as a result of products being unsold, consumers slowly stopped making purchases, and stocks continued to grow. October 24, 1929, the stock market crashed as many had feared. Known as Black Thursday many investors were selling their shares in which it made a record 12.9 million of shares being traded that day. On October 29, 1929 also known as Black Tuesday another panic brushed Wall Street causing 16 million shares being exchanged, and millions being worthless. Investors were slaughtered entirely for when they purchased stocks on margin. As buyers trust began to disappear because of the crash, many occupations started to release their employees due to lack of production. The ones who were still employed struggled with payments and power. Those who were forced to pay with credit eventually ended up in debt, which made the number of foreclosures and repossessions to increase. Although President Hoover tried to reassure everyone that the catastrophe their facing would eventually pass, the matter only got worst over the course of the next three years causing the number of 4 million Americans who were looking for work in 1930 to rise to 6 million in 1931. Homelessness and soup kitchen became extremely common throughout America. Even farmers were forced to leave their crops to rot because they could no longer afford to harvest them, so that left people starving. In between the years of 1931 to 1933 thousands of banks ended up closing due to an abundant number of investors feeling like they couldn't stay with their banks, so they started to demand for deposits which cause banks to liquidate loans in order to meet the investors needs.

In order to help the situation, President Hoover tried to help the banks that were failing with government loans. Hoover was hoping that banks could help take those loans to businesses to help hire people. In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, that following year the last remainder of banks throughout the United States were instructed to shut down due to the government unable to pay their workers, but that didn't stop Roosevelt. He immediately sprung into action by closing all the banks in order to have Congress pass reform legislation. He would also have fireside chats over the radio to help restore the public's confidence. Well within his first 100 days the legislation passed, and aimed to stabilize production, create jobs, and the economy recover. It called it The New Deal. The New Deal would a series of programs to help the road to recovery. Some of the programs he created were the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to protect accounts, the Securities and Exchange Commission which would help control the stock market so that another stock market crash could be avoided. As well as the Tennessee Valley Authority which was to control flooding and to provide power to the Tennessee Valley region, the Work Progress Administration provided permanent jobs to 8.5 million people in 1935-1943. Lastly in 1935 he created the Social Security Act which provides unemployment, disability and pensions for senior citizens.

In spring of 1933, the economy started showing signs of improvement for the next three years. Although in 1937 there was a slight recession, the Great Depression ended in 1939. Now that we know about the Great Depression how were gender roles effected? Well, back in the 1900s the typical gender roles were that men were the breadwinner, and women stayed home, but during the Great Depression things were different for women. Men were predominantly in one's favor over women when it came to be being employed, which made it difficult for women to find jobs, but due to the stock market crash women were able to break their stereotypical role of being a housewife to becoming a breadwinner. Women were payed noticeably less then men, which is why men were considered breadwinners, but because women were payed lower than men, they were able to find jobs better. Especially, if it had to due with technology such as radios and telephones, that's where their job opportunities expanded. This continued throughout the 1930s. Jobs such as nursing, teaching, operating were other worked opportunities for women. For teachers, sometimes they couldn't get payed on time, and even had their paychecks lowered, but being the only income, they received women were the breadwinners.

The Great Depression became a time in history were male employment declined, while female employment increased, and by 1940, 13 million women were working. Because of the stereotypical gender role society during this time many were claiming that women were robbing men of jobs that they needed. Because of this society, in 1932-1937 there was a federal law placed saying that it is illegal for more than one person per family to contain a job within federal civil service.

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Effects of Gender Roles During the Great Depression and World War 2. (2019, Apr 26). Retrieved July 16, 2024 , from

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