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Stay-at-Home Mothers

  • By: Elizabeth Reid Boyd & Gayle Letherby
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

At the turn of the 20th century, it was rare for married women to be employed: in 1900, only 5 percent of married women were employed, and by 1940, this had only risen to 15 percent. Two exceptions were African American households, of which as many as 20 percent were headed by women, and farm wives (almost half of all married women in 1900), who were an integral part of their family's work, although not counted as such in employment statistics.

Historical Shift from Staying at Home

By the 1940s, many mothers suffered the same pressures as mothers today. Many women of childbearing age were well educated and/or equipped with skills relevant to the workplace, but they were also living in a culture where it was ...

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