Free essays 0 Comments


Differencesin the political cultures of men and women reformers during theprogressive era

Theprogressive era in the 1920s is one of the most important periods inthe social, economic and political development in the United States.Among the most important happenings that took place in theprogressive era was the rise of the middle class with resulted intoseveral gender based social problems in the American cities. TheCharity Building in the New York City street become the nationalheadquarters of reform organizations that emerged as a result ofsocial, political and economic problems that emerged in theprogressive era. Although some of the organizations were genderspecific dealing with challenges that faced women in the emergingcities, they had similar goals. Some of the reform organizations thatwere visible in New York City include the National Consumers Leagueand American Association for Labor Legislation (Sklar, nd). Thispaper looks at how social construction of gender in the era affectedwomen in the American cities. The paper argues that the changes ingender roles in the progressive era led to gender specificlegislations that changed the lives of women in the American citiesin the progressive era and later years.

Thesocial, political and economic changes in the progressive era had ahuge impact on the role and social constructs of women in theAmerican cities. As a result of industrial development, native bornAmericans were able to access white collar managerial jobs attainingthe characteristic of the middle class. This altered the social andpolitical structures in American cities. These changed to emergenceof organizations that focused on social, political and economicissues affecting American cities. Among them were womenorganizations. The women movements were more concerned with thepolitical and social issues affecting women in the new Americancities. These issues emerged as a result of increased number of womenwho were educated and were able to access jobs in the cities. On theother hand, there were limited gendered policies in the Americanlegal systems. This means that the new city woman had an importanttask of challenging the American traditions through women activism(Sklar, nd).

TheNational Consumers League and American Association for LaborLegislation played an important role in pushing for social andeconomic reforms through laws that promoted good labor relations inthe emerging American urban centers. Although they had a common goalof promoting the welfare of the society, they approached genderconstructions in the city societies differently. The NationalConsumers League which was led by Florence Kelley in the early 20thcentury was more concerned with the women’s working conditions. Onthe other hand, due to its organizational structures among otherfactors, American Association for Labor Legislation had limitedsocial impacts on women issues. After successful campaigns such asthe White Label, the National Consumers League pushed to othergendered legal reforms in the working environment such as workinghours that favored women social responsibilities. In the 1920s, theorganization was able to provide legal justifications for legislationthat directly benefit women in the American cities. The genderspecific legislations had huge implications on female workers in theAmerican cities during the progressive era and beyond. The changesin legislations and social constructs among city women in the 1920sdue to the emergence of a middle class working woman shaped thehistory of American women (Sklar, nd).


Sklar,K. K. (nd). Differencesin the political cultures of men and women reformers during theprogressive era.