Gender Roles of Women in The 1950s and 1960s, and How It’s Changed

June 28, 2011 by Jamie098  
Published in Women

Women in the 1950’s didn’t need to work, it was a status symbols that a woman could stay home because her husband made enough money to support the whole family. Behind that however, was there some force pushing women back into the house, especially the kitchen, after World War II ended? We take a look at two different studies of 1950s cookbooks and 1960s picture books and identify some subtle hints toward expected gender roles for women. Later, we analyze exactly what has changed and why marriage rates are dropping and why the birth rate is dropping as well.

Gender Roles of Women in the 1950sa and 1960s:

A study of postwar cookbooks and picture books

“Leave it to Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet” we all know, and most of us have seen these two television shows; meaning we have seen what the media tried to portray as the perfect 1950s housewife. Women were suppose to get married, it was expect that once a man and woman were married, they would then start having children. The husband was expected to leave the house to go to work, the school aged children would go to school, which would leave the mother at home to take care of any younger children, to clean the house, and to make the dinner. When the husband cam home, the woman was suppose to cater to his needs, and so were his children. The two articles I chose, talk not only about gender roles in the 1950s and 1960s, but what might have helped reaffirm those gender roles for women.

Both articles talk about the media as a way that female gender roles were established and carried out to thousands of women. In the first article I chose called “The way to a Man’s Heart: Gender Roles, Domestic Ideology, and Cookbooks in the 1950s” by Jessamyn Neuhaus, the idea that women were influenced by an article in “The Bride”, a 1950s women’s bridal magazine, is studied. In the case study, Jessamyn takes one hundred different texts from the post-war era, and reads them to study the ideology and gender role norms of women from 1945 to 1950. From there, Neuhaus simplified the texts to those that were aimed to newly married brides, or women who were getting married. In one of those texts, geared toward women who wanted to get married, Neuhaus found that the magazine said that once a woman has a superb steak recipe and the best pie in hand, then she was ready to get married. The second article discusses

The second article, called “Girls Will Be Girls…and So on,” by Joy Worland, studies the idea that young girls in the 1960’s were persuaded to act out gender roles by seeing imagining in picture books that promoted stereotypical gender roles. In the study of picture books, Worland chose books that were geared toward pre-school and school aged children, and she found that during this time, children are very impressionable and will most likely pick up new ideas ad concepts with out much thought, which would mean that girls would be more likely to take on gender roles that they see in books. Instead of merely watching their mother clean house and cook, young girls were picking up these norms from what they read and taking it home. This doubled their chance of taking on their mother’s roles in the house, because they were receiving information from two very powerful sources.

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