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Roaring Twenties and Women

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1 Roaring Twenties and Women
How far did the role of women change in the 1920s? This ppt originally appeared on the Langley Secondary School website at This site went down in July 2010, so I have copied it here.

2 Task 1 Read pp. 196-197 and make notes in a table (see below)
Women before WW1 Women after WW1 Limitations/Exceptions

3 Women before WW1 Women formed half the population of the USA .
Before the war middle-class women were expected to lead restricted lives. The had to wear very restrictive clothing and behave politely. They were not expected to wear make-up. There relationships with men were strictly controlled. They had to have a chaperone with them when they went out with their boyfriend. They were expected not to play sport or smoke in public. In most states they could not vote. Very few jobs were open to women. Working women were in low paid jobs like cleaning, dressmaking and secretarial work.


5 Women after WW1 The war gave women experience of of skilled factory work. In 1920 women got the vote in all states. The car made they freer. Domestic work was made easier by new electrical goods like vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Younger women wore more daring clothes. They smoked in public and drank with men without chaperones. They even kissed in public. In urban areas women took on more jobs. In 1929 there were 24% more women working than in 1920. Women became financially independent. Women were less likely to stay in unhappy marriages. In 1929 there were twice as many divorces as in 1914. The media portrayed women in a different light – sex sold much better than anything else!


7 Limitations and Exceptions
Women were still paid less than men, even when they did the same job. In politics, women in no way achieved equality with men. Only a handful of women had been elected by 1929. There was a strong conservative tradition in USA. A combination of traditional religion and old country values kept most American women in a much more restricted role. “Most middle class women concentrated on managing the home…Their daughters…were far more likely to prepare for careers as mothers and housewives.”

8 Conclusion Young middle class women in the cities – the flappers – experienced massive changes to their roles in American society. However, the majority of women experienced only minor changes and their lives remained very similar to how they had been before the war. Some women living in the more traditional rural areas were outraged by the actions of the flappers in the cities and opposed many of the images of women in films, novels and magazines.

9 Task 2 It’s the Roaring Twenties – life’s one big party! It might be roaring for you, but life's more of a miaow for me! Work in pairs. Write a script for this conversation. You will need at least seven more scenes. Your conversation must focus upon the way your lives are during the 1920s.

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