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Men's Working Lives
Women at Work: Values
In 1900, three out of four working women were engaged in domestic service, farming, or factory work, particularly in the nation’s textile mills and shoe factories. A third of working women were domestic servants. Teaching and nursing were the only professions generally open to women; female managers and officials were rare.
During the first half of the century, the concentration of women in farming and domestic service was replaced by a new concentration in clerical and sales jobs, still poorly paid but more comfortable and respected. The proportion of women in factory work declined from a quarter to less than a fifth of the female labor force.
By the end of the century, farming, domestic service, and factory work had become less important for working women. The largest number of women were still in the traditional female occupations of clerical work, sales, teaching, and nursing, but an almost equal number had found more diversified employment throughout the economy.
Women constituted about half of all managers, administrators, and officials in the economy; nearly half of college teachers; more than half of psychologists and accountants; and more than a fourth of lawyers and physicians. Although circumstances were changing at the end of the century, men still predominated in the upper reaches of these occupations.
HS series D 217–232; SA 1959, table 383; and SA 1999, table 675.