A Divided Union

The Woman’s Movement

Feminism developed in the 1960s, many women were determined to break the stereotypes imposed on them from the 1950s. This was catalysed by women such as Betty Friedan who wrote an influential book on feminism. The easier availability of the pill also allowed women to plan their families so they could have a career. Women were also becoming increasingly educated so could have a professional career.
While it is true that there were more women in employment that in the 1950s many were still working in traditional woman’s jobs. Many wanted real careers and equal opportunities. The 1964 Civil Rights Act banned discrimination on the grounds of race and sex. Women were determined to put this law into effect.

1966: NOW -- A group of mostly middle class, white women formed the National Organisation for Women (NOW). NOW began attacking obvious examples of discrimination for example Stewardesses were not allowed to marry had to retire at 32.

1972: Educational Amendment Act -- The Education Amendment Act outlawed sex discrimination at school, so women followed the same curriculum as boys and the course was rewritten to give women more positive role models.

1967: NOW proposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) -- This proposed to change the constitution to ensure women’s rights. This amendment was opposed by STOP ERA. They narrowly won and the constitution remained unchanged.

They made progress in social areas for example abortion became legal after 1973, women’s rights became an accepted part of women’s political and cultural lifestyle and women became more aware of the discrimination against them.

There was no real increase in women’s pay, the women’s movement was divided, discrimination still existed in the form of the ‘glass ceiling’ (the idea that women would not be promoted to senior levels by companies on the grounds of sex) and ERA was defeated.