Women’s issues, including gender roles, discussed in history course

Daily Sundial

Women in America have come a long way since Seneca Falls, N.Y., in July 1848, when women like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton held the Women’s Rights Convention.

History 349B, American Women Since 1848, is a survey class which offers a broad look at the social, economic, political, and cultural experiences of women.

“I think that taking a women’s history course would help, because we don’t know just how much happened to women before our time,” said Audrey Hernandez, senior liberal studies major. “They did more for us than we really know.”

The course covers the colonial era to the present day. Among the major issues discussed in the class is the invention of the birth control pill.

“The single event that has (most) impacted women’s lives was the creation of ‘the pill’ in the 1960s,” said Nancy Yamane, course instructor. “Modern science has given women complete control over their fertility.”

Yamane said the pill has allowed women to become more productive, because they aren’t going through pregnancies every other year or so. She also said it has enabled women to decide whether they want to have children at all, which has created a revolutionary change in society.

Another major issue covered in the class is the evolution of gender roles.

“Thoughts on gender roles did not and will not change radically,” Yamane said. “Instead, change is very slow, and we begin to take advantage of the changes.”

In the 20th Century, traditions were changing, but the rhetoric regarding family life remained the same, Yamane said.

Yamane also said women should think about why they accept lower wages and why jobs primarily filled by women are lower paying than are jobs primarily filled by men.

“Young women of today should think about the structure of wages,” Yamane said. “They need to make some change.”