Gender role

Their household economy was dependent on them. While the textile industry was setting their hold in America’s economy, the shoe industry started to make an impact on women. In 1835, fifteen thousand women were part of the shoe industry. These women were paid by the item and not an hourly wage. Usually the wives and daughters worked with the shoemaker who was the head of the household and did the binding. However, large business, started to outsource their work to women outside of the household. This increased the competition with the industry.

This type of ‘outwork’ was supposed to allow women more time with their families. The factor industry also alleviated hand sewing that was popular in the antebellum period (Clinton and Lunardini, 2000). Women provided the backbone for the industrial revolution and in return the industrial revolution provided alternatives for women, a greater sense of independence, and more income for their families. The capitalist system definitely made a greater impact with women than in the pre-industrial revolution.

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Women before the rise of industry were in set roles and usually stayed close to the home. Money earned outside the home was limited with the needs of the family always first. A capitalist system gives women to opportunity to work outside the home in small and large businesses and some cases allowed women to head businesses of their own. Women started earning a higher wage with capitalist system and women also started to expand their education. Family businesses expand their competitive base and women and daughters were viewed as co-owners with their husbands (Clinton and Lunardini, 2000).

Women in early America made a great impact on the economy of America. From the beginning women were managers of their homes and estates. In some cases women had a household to run that consisted of workers. However, men were considered the head of the household, yet it was women who were the mainstay for the family. Single women and immigrants had little more leeway when came to work because they were supporting themselves. Many young girls started working in factories. The industrial revolution gave women single and married greater opportunities for income.

While men were engaged in wage labor and later engaging in war, women became the head of the household and thus responsible for bringing in the income for the family or themselves. Early American women were pioneers; they educated themselves and rewrote the gender role.


Clinton, C. , and Lunardini, C. (2000). The Columbia Guide to American Women in the Nineteeth Century. Chapel Hill, NC: Columbia University Press. Kulikoff, A. (2000). From British Peasants to Colonial American Farmers. New York: University of North Carolina Press.