Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Economy: History of Women's Participation
Joyce P. Jacobsen
Women have always participated in economic activity, across time and space, albeit to varying degrees. However, if one defines participation in the economy as participation in a labor market, where labor is traded for pay, then one of the most striking social changes during the past century has been the large increase in women's participation in the economy. Figure 1 shows U.S. male and female labor force participation rates spanning the past 205 years, as well as the percentage female for the labor force as a whole. Three distinct periods in female labor force participation and percentage female can be seen: a period of gradual rise during the 19th century, followed by a plateau or even a slight drop in the early 20th century (1910 to 1940), followed by a sharp rise since World War II. Male participation rose until 1910 (with a dip following the Civil War), dipped Most ...