Career women in america the impact of the pill 1960 85


Published on

Published in: Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Career women in america the impact of the pill 1960 85

  1. 1.   1   Career  Women  in  America:  The  Impact  of  the  Pill  1960-­85   Before  the  revolutionary  changes  of  the  1960s,  women  faced  countless   challenges  in  their  endeavors  to  join  the  professional  workforce,  become  financially   stable,  balance  a  family  and  demanding  career  and  gain  the  confidence  in  which  to   compete  with  men  for  equal  employment  and  pay.  As  the  United  States  underwent   progressive  transformation  with  the  help  of  the  feminist  movement,  the  Civil  Rights   Movement,  the  Vietnam  War,  the  legalization  of  abortion  and  the  introduction  of  the   birth  control  pill,  middle  and  upper  class  women  benefitted  greatly.  The  women   born  from  1955-­‐60  experienced  far  more  accessible  opportunities  than  the  women   of  previous  generations.  The  number  of  women  entering  male  dominated  majors,   graduate  schools  and  careers  skyrocketed  as  this  group  came  of  age.  For  instance,   women  earned  2.7%  of  professional  degrees  (medicine,  dentistry,  law  and  business)   in  1960.  By  1984,  women  accounted  for  33.2%  of  these  degrees.     Enovid,  the  first  oral  contraceptive,  was  introduced  in  the  spring  of  1960.   This  new  birth  control  method  differed  from  those  before  it;  it  was  non-­‐invasive,   taken  orally  and  was  99%  effective.  Its  use  caught  on  quickly,  growing  by  8.5  million   women  in  a  decade.  Enovid  was  packaged  in  a  small,  bright  pink,  plastic  box  and   could  be  hidden  inside  desk  drawers  or  purses.  It  was  nicknamed  “The  Pill.”  Though   the  Pill  was  not  the  first  form  of  successful  birth  control,  its  degrees  of  reliability,   ease  of  use,  and  privacy  surpassed  the  diaphragm,  condoms,  and  spermicidal  foam,   and  until  1973,  an  illegal  and  unsafe  abortion.  The  Pill  was  certainly  a  part  of  the   quickly  changing  atmosphere  and  its  role  deserves  further  investigation.    
  2. 2.   2   This  paper  will  examine  the  impact  of  oral  contraceptives  on  the  lives  and   futures  of  women  born  in  the  cohort  of  1955-­‐60  as  a  part  of  the  greater  societal   transformations  taking  place  from  1960-­‐85.  My  methodology  involves  researching   the  correlation  between  the  Pill’s  availability  as  a  part  of  various  societal   transformations  and  the  rise  in  female  presence  in  various  occupations  and  schools,   comparing  and  contrasting  women’s  lives  before  and  after  the  decade  of  the  1960s   and  interviewing  five  career  women  born  from  1953-­‐60  who  experienced  this   period  firsthand.  These  women  represent  the  benefits  and  challenges  of  those  who   reached  the  ages  of  18-­‐20,  a  period  associated  with  making  lifelong  decisions,   shortly  after  the  1960s.1  These  accounts  allow  better  understanding  of  the  impact  of   the  Pill  in  accordance  with  a  variety  of  changes.     Accountant  Stephanie  B.  shares  her  story  growing  up  in  a  low-­‐income   neighborhood  in  Phoenix,  Arizona.  She  was  a  part  of  the  major  influx  of  women   obtaining  bachelor’s  degrees  in  business  in  the  late  1970s.  Social  worker  Heather  J.   is  an  example  of  a  career  woman  in  a  female-­‐dominated  field.  She  benefited  from  the   shift  in  women  pursuing  graduate  degrees  and  long-­‐term  careers.  Laney  M.   emphasizes  the  importance  of  dedication  and  long-­‐term  goals  in  seeking  a   professional  career.  She  became  a  physician  and  decided  to  delay  children  until  she   finished  medical  school  and  residency.  Jane  T.  describes  her  college  years  at  Cal-­‐ Berkeley  and  the  female  mentors  in  her  life  that  led  her  to  pursue  a  male-­‐dominated   career  as  a  casting  director  in  Hollywood.  Her  perseverance  in  the  face  of  gender   discrimination  portrays  confidence  and  sexual  liberation.  Attorney  Susan  K.  depicts  
  3. 3.   3   her  journey  through  law  school  and  her  success  in  raising  a  family  while  balancing  a   high-­‐powered  position  at  a  Portland,  Oregon  law  firm.     Because  this  paper  primarily  focuses  on  upper  and  middle  class  women  and   draws  comparisons  between  lower-­‐income  women,  it  is  crucial  to  note  my   connotation  when  referring  to  specific  social  classes  in  the  United  States.  The   distinction  between  working,  middle  and  upper  class  can  be  construed  in  several   ways  including  a  person’s  education,  labor  or  spending  habits.  In  this  paper,  I  refer   to  these  groups  in  terms  of  occupation  and  income.  Working  or  lower  class  suggests   a  person  whose  job  entails  physical  labor  for  an  hourly  wage  or  who  is  unemployed.   Middle  class  indicates  the  broad  group  that  falls  between  working  class  and  upper   class  and  whose  occupation  is  primarily  blue  collar.  Upper  or  upper-­‐middle  class   constitutes  15%  of  the  population’s  highest  incomes.  This  group  usually  has  a   college  education  and  often  a  graduate  degree.2  At  least  one  person  in  the  household   holds  a  white-­‐collar  job.   The  majority  of  women  flowing  into  the  professional  world  were  middle  and   upper  class  women  with  the  financial  freedom  to  attend  college  and  the  confidence   to  explore  long-­‐term  careers.  Many  of  these  women  were  drawn  to  utilizing  the  Pill   because  they  wanted  the  ability  to  postpone  marriage  and  starting  a  family  in  order   to  pursue  education  beyond  college.  Claudia  Goldin  and  Lawrence  Katz  refer  to  the   marriage  market  during  the  1970s  as  growing  “thicker.”3  This  term  refers  to  the   phenomenon  of  young  women  and  men  who  began  to  postpone  marriage  to   accommodate  their  own  educational  endeavors.  As  a  result  of  a  thicker  marriage  
  4. 4.   4   market,  women  could  invest  time  in  education  and  careers  without  the  risk  of  losing   out  on  marriage  prospects.     Historians,  economists  and  feminists  have  debated  the  impact  of  the  Pill  in   varying  contexts  and  its  effect  on  changing  women’s  roles.  Demographic  studies   conducted  immediately  after  the  Pill’s  introduction  included  only  married  women   and  contraceptive  use  among  unmarried  teenagers  was  not  studied  until  the  late   1970s.  This  lack  of  data  makes  it  difficult  to  place  the  Pill  into  the  context  of  the   numerous  sociological  changes  of  the  1960s.  Historian  Elizabeth  Siegel  Watkins   accentuates,  "The  pill  did  indeed  revolutionize  birth  control,  and  radical  changes  in   sexual  attitudes  and  conduct  did  take  place,  particularly  among  young  people,  but   no  one  ever  established  a  connection  between  these  two  phenomena.”4  With  a  new   outlook,  numerous  high  school  and  college-­‐aged  women  were  setting  goals  for  their   futures.  Whether  they  took  the  Pill  or  utilized  other  forms  of  birth  control,  graduate   school  and  long-­‐term  careers  were  within  reach.  The  Pill  was  part  of  the  revolution   that  allowed  women  the  capability  to  plan  a  future  career  while  delaying  childbirth.     Life  Before  Oral  Contraceptives   Before  the  20th  century,  women  were  faced  with  the  challenge  of  creating   and  utilizing  less  effective  means  to  control  reproduction.  Because  it  was  difficult  to   limit  family  size,  a  woman’s  role  was  centered  on  childbearing  and  rearing.  This   could  consume  the  majority  of  her  life,  depending  on  how  many  children  she  reared.   Women  lived  with  the  knowledge  that  pregnancy  could  limit  their  life  expectancy   and  compromise  their  health.5    Birth  control  methods  were  often  homemade   formulas  or  contraptions  and  administered  by  the  woman  herself  or  a  midwife.  
  5. 5.   5   These  techniques  lasted  well  into  the  20th  century  and  were  improved  upon  since   the  ancient  innovations,  ranging  from  the  vaginal  sponge,  abortions,  condoms,   withdrawal,  diaphragms,  IUDs,  the  rhythm  method  and  douching.6     Birth  control  procedures  varied  in  their  degree  of  control  and  privacy;  some   were  conducted  secretly,  others  gave  full  control  to  the  man,  and  a  few  were   cooperative.7    Linda  Gordon,  the  author  of  Woman’s  Body,  Woman’s  Right,  concedes   that  these  devices  proved  successful  for  some  women.  Yet  she  adds,  “…but  these   techniques  cannot  compete  with  the  Pill  or  today’s  legal  abortions  for  effectiveness   and  safety.”  8  The  introduction  of  the  Pill  in  1960  and  the  legalization  of  abortion  in   1973  altered  a  woman’s  outlook  on  her  body  and  future.  Women  could  take   complete  control  of  their  reproduction  and  be  confident  that  their  pregnancies   would  be  voluntary.   Legal  Limitations   The  legal  issues  surrounding  birth  control,  especially  abortions,  have  affected   the  safety  and  accessibility  of  limiting  pregnancy  for  centuries.  Early  in  America’s   history,  abortion  was  an  accepted  form  of  birth  control  and  perfectly  legal  before   the  stage  of  “quickening,”9  a  pregnant  woman’s  initial  sensitivity  to  fetal  movement.   However,  between  1821  and  1841,  performing  an  abortion  became  a  criminal   offense  in  a  number  of  states.  Historian  James  Mohr  discusses  the  evolution  of   abortion  legislation  in  Abortions  in  America,  explaining  that  abortion  became  a   widespread  phenomenon  between  1840  –  1870  among  white,  married,  Protestant,   middle  and  upper  class  women  “who  either  wished  to  delay  their  childbearing  or   already  had  all  the  children  they  wanted.”10  This  was  a  shift  from  the  previous  
  6. 6.   6   notion  that  abortions  served  single  women  and  those  with  illegitimate,  shameful   pregnancies.  Mohr  notes  that  this  phenomenon  may  be  partially  attributed  to  an   increased  awareness  of  autonomy  for  women.  Women’s  rights  were  gaining  ground   in  the  1840s,  marked  by  the  Seneca  Falls  Convention  in  1848,  one  of  the  first  events   aimed  toward  women’s  suffrage.   In  response  to  the  increasing  presence  of  abortions,  states  added  sections  to   their  criminal  codes,  which  outlawed  abortion  and  in  some  cases,  other  forms  of   birth  control.11  Illegal  abortions  were  unsanitary,  painful  and  resulted  in  extreme   blood  loss  and  possible  death.  If  a  woman  attempted  to  abort  the  child  herself,  she   might  resort  to  injections  of  lye,  douching  with  bleach  or  inserting  a  coat  hanger  into   her  uterus.  Abortions  were  usually  not  discussed  publicly  and  many  felt  they  could   not  tell  anyone,  being  forced  to  deal  with  the  traumatic  experience  alone.     A  century  later,  women  still  struggled  to  find  underground  abortions  and   were  at  risk  of  having  an  unsafe  procedure.  The  women’s  movement  in  the  1960s   encouraged  women  to  become  more  confident  in  questioning  their  circumstances.   Individuals  spoke  out  about  their  abortions  and  the  shame  and  worry  associated   with  the  procedure.  In  The  Feminist  Memoir  Project,  Nadine  Taub  shares  her   experiences  as  one  of  the  few  women  who  attended  law  school  in  the  1960s.  She   admits,  “I  was  a  single  woman  who  had  never  been  in  a  circle  of  women  who  needed   to  get  abortions  –  or  so  I  thought.”  12    She  later  learned  that  a  friend  from  college  had   nearly  died  while  undergoing  an  illegal  abortion  and  when  the  school  found  out,  it   almost  kept  her  from  graduating.  Taub  expresses  that  before  hearing  of  this   experience,  “…I  didn't  yet  know  how  an  unwanted  pregnancy  left  you  almost  alone  
  7. 7.   7   and  worried  out  of  your  mind,  driving  you  underground  to  risk  your  health  and   future  well-­‐being.”13  When  abortion  was  legalized  nationally  in  1973  following  the   Supreme  Court  ruling  of  Roe  v.  Wade,  women  were  provided  a  sense  of  comfort.  No   matter  the  circumstance,  a  woman  could  seek  a  safe  and  timely  abortion.   Ambitions   The  desire  to  pursue  higher  education  and  fulfilling  careers  has  been  integral   to  the  women’s  movement  since  the  mid-­‐19th  century.  This  movement  gained   momentum  through  female  leaders  such  as  Susan  B.  Anthony  and  Elizabeth  Cady   Stanton,  and  eventually  led  to  the  right  to  vote  in  1920.  Additionally,  there  was  an   increase  of  women  in  higher  education  (female  enrollment  shot  up  100%  in  public   colleges  and  universities)  and  women  held  11.9%  of  professional  positions.14  A   leader  in  women’s  rights,  M.  Carey  Thomas  became  the  president  of  Bryn  Mawr   College  in  1894.  She  was  considered  a  forward  thinker  and  continually  asked  “why”   women  could  not  be  department  chairs.15    She  was  far  ahead  of  her  time,   acknowledging  the  importance  of  education  for  women  and  emphasizing  their  shift   into  male-­‐dominated  fields.  Her  1913  essay  expresses  female  aspirations:   The  passionate  desire  of  women  of  my  generation  for  higher  education  was   accompanied  throughout  its  course  by  the  awful  doubt,  felt  by  women   themselves  as  well  as  by  men,  as  to  whether  women  as  a  sex  were  physically   and  mentally  fit  for  it…I  remember  often  praying  about  it,  and  begging  God   that  if  it  were  true  that  because  I  was  a  girl  I  could  not  successfully  master   Greek  and  go  to  college  and  understand  things  to  kill  me  at  once,  as  I  could  not   bear  to  live  in  such  an  unjust  world.16    
  8. 8.   8   However,  middle  and  upper  class  women  began  leaving  the  professional  world   during  1930-­‐1960,  evidenced  by  the  dropping  percentages  of  female  principals.  In   1928,  55%  of  principals  were  women,  a  number  that  fell  to  22%  by  1960.17  Even  in   the  field  of  social  work,  men  constituted  a  disproportionate  number  of  executives  in   1968  compared  to  the  overwhelming  amount  of  women  working  in  the  field.   Cynthia  Fuchs  Epstein  wrote  in  1968,  "Although  the  number  of  women  in  the  labor   force  is  enormous  -­‐  28,000,000  and  still  increasing  -­‐  women  who  work  have  settled   for  a  fraction  of  the  job  possibilities  offered  by  the  economy.  And  their  failure  to   advance  into  the  jobs  which  are  valued  most  highly  in  our  society  -­‐  the  upper  strata   of  business  and  the  professions  -­‐  is  striking."18  This  data  demonstrates  that  the   number  of  women  flowing  into  professional  occupations  was  not  on  the  rise  until   after  the  1960s  when  the  cohort  of  women  born  from  1955-­‐60  entered  the   workforce.   Discrimination     Kathleen  McKean,  born  in  1947,  never  thought  about  being  treated   differently  because  she  was  a  woman.  She  only  considered  becoming  a  teacher,  a   nurse  or  working  in  an  office.  She  recalls,  “You  were  not  encouraged  to  become   something  else  or  even  thought  of  it.  I  wanted  to  be  a  model  for  a  while  but  I  never   had  the  self-­‐confidence  to  think  of…being  a  career  woman.”  19  McKean  explains  that   boys  were  the  “smart  ones”  and  girls  were  the  “pretty  ones.”  College  campuses  in   the  1940s  and  50s  indoctrinated  this  thought  process,  portraying  the  “normal”   family  as  divided  by  sex  and  behavior  and  labor  roles  correlating  with  gender.20   Admission  quotas  at  business,  engineering,  architecture,  law,  science  and  university  
  9. 9.   9   teaching  graduate  schools  allowed  for  less  than  5%  women.21  University  faculties   assumed  that  female  students  would  marry,  get  pregnant  and  drop  out.  If  they  did   graduate,  universities  claimed  that  they  would  never  practice  the  profession.     The  small  number  of  persistent  women,  who  graduated  and  did  attempt  to   practice,  faced  the  prevailing  office  attitude  against  women.  A  female  lawyer  in  the   1950s,  Dorothy  Kenyon,  explains  how  she  was  addressed  by  male  interviewers,   "You  may  be  a  disturbing  element,  falling  in  love  with  people,  and  vice  versa.  We'll   have  to  stick  you  in  a  law  library,  out  of  sight.  In  the  unlikely  contingency  that  you   turn  out  to  be  good,  you'll  probably  marry  as  soon  as  we've  finished  training  you   and  we'll  have  had  all  our  trouble  for  nothing.  Thank  you,  no,  we'll  play  safe  and   take  a  boy."22  Although  a  small  number  of  trailblazing  women  in  the  earlier  part  of   the  20th  century  were  able  to  obtain  professional  degrees  and  employment,  a   cultural  revolution  and  a  mass  influx  of  capable  female  professionals  was  necessary   to  change  the  discriminatory  attitudes  at  male-­‐dominated  offices.   Gender-­Specific  Positions   Many  women  dreamed  of  excelling  in  the  workplace  and  becoming   financially  independent.  However,  early  marriage  and  childbearing  hindered  their   efforts  to  plan  their  lives,  set  priorities  and  make  choices.23  As  a  result,  the  female   workforce  in  the  1950s  and  60s  was  mostly  limited  to  “pink  collar”  positions,  which   refers  to  teaching,  nursing,  social  work  and  clerical  jobs,  all  gender  specific  and   poorly  paid.  These  occupations  also  allowed  a  woman  to  quit  or  take  time  off  when   she  became  pregnant.    
  10. 10.   10   Because  women  growing  up  in  the  1940s  and  50s  were  surrounded  by   women  in  these  roles  and  men  who  believed  that  women  should  stay  in  this  sphere,   they  prepared  themselves  for  female-­‐dominant  careers.  Born  in  1957  in  a  small   town  in  Arizona,  Heather  J.  explains  that  female-­‐specific  and  low-­‐paying  jobs  were   the  norm  for  women.  She  recalls,  “[they  were]  mostly  teachers,  restaurant  service   workers,  maids,  nurses,  house  cleaners,  day  care…”24  She  also  mentions  that  her   father  and  brothers  lacked  confidence  in  women  and  discouraged  her  pursuing   anything  outside  of  a  traditionally  female  role.    Likewise,  Chris  R.,  who  was  born  in   1950  says,  “…my  parents  were  like  ‘okay  you’re  going  to  go  through  high  school  and   you’re  supposed  to  marry  somebody  and  then  that’s  almost  like  your  goal  and  your   career.  But  really  until  I  got  divorced  and…determined  that  I  needed  to  have  my   own  career  and  my  own  self,  that’s…where  I  found  myself  and  went  forward.  I  think   that  [my  parents]  always  thought  that  you  should  just  get  married  and  then  have   kids  and  that  was  it.”25     Technological  advances  in  the  1950s  had  led  to  a  demand  for  low-­‐skilled   office  workers.  Most  of  these  jobs  required  minimal  education  and  offered  little  by   way  of  financial  compensation,  a  combination  that  made  them  predominantly   female.  Office  work  was  considered  a  “white  collar”  occupation  and  women   clamored  at  the  doors  to  be  hired  by  prestigious  law  firms  and  business   corporations.26  As  a  result,  these  companies  could  be  choosy  in  hiring  only   attractive,  single  women;  most  of  whom  quit  their  jobs  or  were  fired  when  they   married  or  got  pregnant,  further  fueling  employers’  abilities  to  place  women  at  the   bottom  of  the  pay  scale.27  Author  Louise  Kapp  Howe  investigated  the  occupation  of  
  11. 11.   11   an  office  worker  in  the  late  1960s  and  early  1970s,  describing  one  woman,  Vicki’s,   attitude  towards  her  clerical  job  in  a  field  where  women  represented  97%  of   receptionists,  99%  of  secretaries  and  97%  of  typists.  Vicki  says  in  response  to  office   education  school,  “But  don’t  you  see  what  a  fake  it  is…The  schools  want  these  girls   to  think  what  they’ve  been  learning  is  really  hot  stuff,  when  they  know  damn  well   they’re  going  to  go  out  and  get  stuck  in  lousy  no-­‐money  jobs.”28  Vicki  had  recently   quit  her  job  as  a  receptionist  and  was  returning  to  college.     Flight  attendants  experienced  similar  discrimination.  Airlines  restricted  their   hiring  process  to  only  single  women  who  were  young  and  attractive,  building  an   industry  based  on  the  sexual  allure  of  their  hostesses.29  This  continued  well  into  the   late  1970s  and  early  80s.  Heather  J.  was  hired  at  Delta  Airlines  in  1979,  shortly  after   she  graduated  from  college.30    She  explains  that  she  was  chosen  based  partly  on   attractiveness  and  was  subject  to  weekly  weigh-­‐ins.  If  she  failed  to  maintain  her   weight,  she  would  be  laid  off.    In  other  cases,  airlines  fired  their  employees  who   married  or  became  pregnant.   Comparably,  schoolteachers  could  be  let  go  if  expecting;  an  action  that  was   justified  by  school  districts  on  the  basis  that  visibly  pregnant  teachers  might  raise   students’  questions  about  sexuality  and  women  should  be  home  with  their  children   anyway.  It  was  not  until  1978  that  Congress  passed  the  Pregnancy  Discrimination   Act,  in  which  employers  could  no  longer  discriminate  against  pregnant  women.31     Before  this  act,  many  states  placed  teachers  on  involuntary  maternity  leave  when   they  became  pregnant.  In  the  1974  Supreme  Court  case,  Cleveland  Board  of   Education  v.  LaFleur,  two  pregnant  public  school  teachers  challenged  the  maternity  
  12. 12.   12   leave  rules  of  the  school  board.  These  women  were  asked  to  leave  work  five  months   prior  to  the  expected  birth.  Their  return  was  prohibited  until  the  following  semester   when  the  child  was  three  months  old.32  Women  had  very  little  room  to  negotiate   when  it  came  to  taking  time  off  for  childbearing.  They  accepted  lower  pay  as  an   agreement  that  they  would  leave  for  six  months  to  a  year  and  then  return.33     Employers’  opinions  were  similar  to  that  of  New  York  Times  columnist   Jeremy  Flint.  He  proclaimed,  "The  barriers  may  never  come  down  completely;  many   women  consider  themselves  short-­‐timers  in  the  job  market,  not  lifers,  and  don't   mind  not  being  considered  for  better  paying  jobs."34  Jeremy  Flint’s  assertion  is   erroneous  for  several  reasons.  Working-­‐class  women,  especially  women  of  color,   tended  to  marry  young  and  have  minimal  access  to  any  form  of  birth  control.  They   were  forced  to  stay  in  the  workforce  for  most  of  their  lives  to  support  their  large   families  but  struggled  to  balance  a  full-­‐time  job  with  little  pay  and  young  children.   Grace  Elliott,  a  young  textile  worker  in  North  Carolina  in  the  1920s,  earned  $16  a   week.  She  paid  $5  for  a  cook  and  $2  for  laundry  and  because  she  only  had  $9   remaining,  she  would  wake  up  at  4  am  every  morning  to  prepare  breakfast,  milk  the   cow  and  get  her  children  ready  for  school.  Her  day  job  began  at  5:30  am  and  ended   at  6:00  pm.  She  would  then  return  home,  cook  supper  and  sew  clothes  for  her   children.  After  four  years  of  this  lifestyle,  she  was  exhausted  and  ill,  struggling  with   numerous  pregnancies  and  poverty.35     Flint  also  fails  to  acknowledge  that  women  had  career  aspirations,  especially   middle  and  upper  class  women  who  attended  college.  These  aspirations  were   evident  within  the  feminist  movement  of  the  early  20th  century  and  from  Betty  
  13. 13.   13   Friedan’s  best-­‐selling  book,  The  Feminine  Mystique.  The  idea  for  The  Feminine   Mystique  originated  from  a  lifestyle  satisfaction  survey  of  her  Smith  College   classmates  that  Friedan  was  asked  to  administer  for  her  15-­‐year  reunion  in  1957.   The  survey  questioned  how  these  women,  89%  of  them  homemakers,  felt  about   their  education  and  its  use  in  daily  life.36  The  findings  were  devastating.  Friedan’s   first  chapter  describes  the  emptiness  and  desire  of  women  to  explore  their   individual  purpose.  Friedan  wrote,  “The  problem  lay  buried,  unspoken,  for  many   years  in  the  minds  of  American  women.  It  was  a  strange  stirring,  a  sense  of   dissatisfaction,  a  yearning  that  women  suffered  in  the  idle  of  the  twentieth  century   in  the  United  States.  Each  suburban  wife  struggled  with  it  alone.”37   Domesticity   Marriage  and  childbearing  complicated  and  often  hindered  a  woman’s   possible  entry  into  higher  education  and  long-­‐term  careers.  Cynthia  Fuchs  Epstein   laments  women’s  educational  status  in  the  1960s,  that  not  only  was  academic   achievement  weakened,  but  college  women  were  less  involved  in  their  academic   work  because  of  the  emphasis  on  a  woman’s  future  role  as  a  wife.38  Most  middle  and   upper  class  women  were  raised  unaware  that  they  were  treated  like  second-­‐class   citizens.  They  were  encouraged  to  thrive  in  the  domestic  sphere  while  their   brothers  and  husbands  took  advantage  of  the  educational  and  financial   opportunities.  As  Kerber  et.  al.  states  in  Women’s  America,  "To  be  a  lawyer  and  a   father  in  America  was  to  be  'normal;'  to  be  a  lawyer  and  a  mother  was  to  be   'deviant.'  Motherhood  was  assumed  to  be  a  fulltime  occupation,  especially  in   middle-­‐class  circles."39  This  mentality  encouraged  early  marriage  and  early  
  14. 14.   14   childbearing,  making  it  nearly  impossible  for  a  woman  to  balance  a  fulfilling  career,   not  to  mention  that  it  was  frowned  upon.  Although  motherhood  was  understood  to   be  a  profession  itself,  it  was  in  need  of  greater  status  and  respect.  Becoming  a   housewife  placed  a  woman  in  a  gender-­‐specific  role  that  was  difficult  to  escape.     Even  women  who  fully  intended  to  have  long-­‐term  careers  felt  the  pressure   to  marry  early.  Joan  Bernstein  graduated  from  Yale  Law  School  in  the  1950s  and   managed  to  secure  a  job  at  a  New  York  City  firm,  however,  at  age  25  she  felt  she  had   no  place  in  society  and  was  a  failure  because  she  was  still  unmarried.40  In  1960,  the   median  age  of  marriage  was  20.  Newsweek  reported  that  60%  of  young  women  who   entered  college  dropped  out  before  graduation,  “most  to  get  married.”41     Furthermore,  a  Ladies  Home  Journal  study  found  that  most  women  intended  to  work   until  their  first  pregnancy  but  afterward,  “…a  resounding  no!”42  This  was  a  troubling   response,  especially  when  young  housewives  began  discovering,  to  their  shock,  that   the  existence  they  been  groomed  for  since  childhood  left  them  feeling  empty.  A   product  of  this  mindset,  Kathleen  McKean  married  shortly  after  graduating  from   college  in  1969.  She  taught  fourth  grade,  but  quit  when  she  and  her  husband  moved   to  San  Francisco  and  she  became  a  homemaker.  She  references  this  period  as  her   “identity  crisis,”  43  when  she  realized  she  had  been  raised  to  be  a  teacher  and   housewife  but  was  now  at  a  loss  for  who  she  really  wanted  to  be.     Inability  to  Space  and  Time  Births   The  underlying  issue  for  women  who  entertained  the  idea  of  a  long-­‐term   career  in  the  years  before  highly  effective  birth  control  became  available  was  their   inability  to  space  and  time  their  births,  or  simply  limit  their  number  of  children.  At  
  15. 15.   15   the  turn  of  the  century,  a  female  columnist  for  The  New  York  Times,  Rheta  Childe   Door,  explored  the  demise  of  professional  women  because  of  their  biological   obligation.  She  lamented,  “The  problem  of  modern  woman  is  how  to  vary  from  her   type  as  freely  as  men  vary  without  giving  up  her  right  to  bear  children.”44  Door   acknowledged  that  the  mass  of  women  were  cut  off  from  “active  participation  in   world  movements”45  and  unable  to  seek  fulfillment  or  develop  leadership.  Yet  it  was   impossible  for  a  mother  to  seek  these  opportunities  because  the  labor  of  bearing   child  after  child  and  caring  for  them  took  up  the  majority  of  her  time.       By  the  1950s,  however,  middle-­‐class  American  families  were  able  to  limit   their  large  families  to  two  or  three  children  with  diaphragms  and  condoms,  opposed   to  six  or  seven  in  the  early  19th  century.46  A  diaphragm  is  88%  effective  if  inserted   correctly  and  condoms  provide  a  98%  effective  form  of  birth  control.  Unfortunately,   this  did  not  allow  for  the  prevention  of  pregnancy  entirely  as  the  use  of  diaphragms   and  condoms  are  dependent  on  preparation  and  availability.    Unmarried  women   still  ran  the  risk  of  shame  and  shotgun  weddings.  Country  singer,  Loretta  Lynn’s   1972  song,  “The  Pill”  illustrates  the  restrictions  that  childbearing  placed  on  a   woman:     You  wined  me  and  dined  me  when  I  was  your  girl   Promised  if  I’d  be  your  wife  you’d  show  me  the  world   But  all  I’ve  seen  of  this  old  world  is  a  bed  and  a  doctor  bill…   All  these  years  I’ve  stayed  at  home  while  you  had  all  your  fun   And  every  year  that’s  gone  by  another  baby’s  come47    
  16. 16.   16   Introduction  of  the  Pill  (1960)   In  the  spring  of  1960,  after  years  of  development  and  testing,  the  US  Food   and  Drug  Administration  approved  the  first  oral  contraceptive,  marking  a  new  era  of   birth  control  and  women’s  health.  Margaret  Sanger  was  the  pioneer  of  a  more   effective  and  independent  birth  control  and  a  prominent  feminist  in  the  1920s.  She   teamed  up  with  Gregory  Pincus  in  the  1930s,  a  Harvard  scientist  who  had  made   strides  in  harvesting  rabbit  embryos.48    More  than  twenty  years  later,  her   determination  to  find  a  99.9%  effective  birth  control  method  that  could  better   women’s  quality  of  life  had  succeeded.     The  majority  of  researchers  and  physicians  at  major  research  universities   also  took  part  in  the  cause  because  they  believed  that  every  child  should  be  a   wanted  child  and  those  who  did  not  want  a  child,  should  be  able  to  prevent  their   births.49  One  of  these  physicians  was  John  Rock,  a  Catholic  with  a  strong  belief  that   the  Pill  was  important  to  the  wellbeing  of  society.  He  aided  Pincus  in  the  testing  of   the  hormone  progesterone  to  inhibit  ovulation  in  humans.50  Two  female  doctors,  Dr.   Edric  Rice  Way  and  Dr.  Adaline  Satterthwaite,  conducted  the  on-­‐site  trials  in  Puerto   Rico,  recruiting  eager  women  who  faced  poverty  and  large  families.  Rock  and  Pincus   administered  further  tests  in  Haiti,  Massachusetts,  New  York  City  and  other  large   cities  throughout  the  world.  These  leaders  envisioned  a  world  of  population  control,   where  impoverished  women  could  live  healthier  lives  and  feed  their  families.  They   also  were  aware  that  it  could  increase  female  independence,  though  no  one   predicted  the  transformative  1960s  and  the  confidence  and  sexual  liberation  that   followed.  
  17. 17.   17   Young,  married  women  were  quick  to  demand  a  prescription  from  their   physicians  and  the  Pill  became  a  staple  in  middle  and  upper  class  homes  with   phenomenal  speed.  At  first,  oral  contraceptives  were  limited  to  women  who  were   married  and  could  afford  them  –  they  paid  $100  in  1960  until  the  price  lowered  to   $25  in  1965.51  The  cost,  as  well  as  marital  status,  restricted  working  class  women   and  women  of  color  from  access  until  the  Office  of  Economic  Opportunity  devoted   funds  to  providing  free  contraceptive  services  to  lower  class  women  in  1965.52   Those  taking  the  Pill  grew  by  one  million  every  year  following  1960.  By  1969,  8.5   million  had  obtained  prescriptions.53  The  majority  of  these  women  were  married.   Teenagers  and  unmarried  women  found  it  difficult  to  obtain  a  prescription.   Until  the  age  of  minority  changed  from  under  21  to  under  18  in  the  late  1960s,   states  required  that  minors  have  parental  consent  or  in  some  cases,  an  engagement   ring  or  marriage  certificate.  As  one  might  imagine,  reactions  were  mixed.  Oral   contraceptives  were  constantly  associated  with  the  emerging  feminist  wave  and  the   suddenly  visible  sexual  freedom  of  a  younger  generation.  A  Reader’s  Digest   columnist  fretted,  “It  is  a  small  object  –  yet  its  potential  effect  upon  our  society  may   be  even  more  devastating  than  the  nuclear  bomb.”54  Men  also  voiced  their  concerns.   Sam  Blum  wrote  in  RedBook,  “The  only  real  anxiety  anyone  expressed  about  the  pill   in  the  midsixties  was  that  it  might  make  women  more  independent  and   consequently  make  men  feel  more  insecure.”55   However,  in  the  1960s  the  Pill  was  primarily  used  by  married  women  and   simply  allowed  them  more  independence  and  less  anxiety.  “With  the  pill,  we  don’t   have  to  worry  anymore,”  said  a  mother  of  three  in  a  1966  New  York  Times  article.  
  18. 18.   18   The  same  article  concluded,  "For  most  of  its  users,  it  has  revolutionized  family   planning  and  relieved  a  traditional  source  of  family  tension:  the  fear  of  having   unwanted  children."56  The  Pill  provided  women  with  a  sense  of  security  and  was   associated  with  loss  of  frigidity,  sexual  freedom  and  improved  marriages.57  The  Pill   was  clearly  here  to  stay,  but  negative  opinions  and  legal  issues  threatened  its   availability  until  the  late  1960s  and  early  70s.   A  number  of  historians  and  sociologists  have  underestimated  the  impact  of   the  Pill  on  middle  class  women’s  entry  into  higher  education  and  long-­‐term  careers.   This  is  primarily  due  to  their  focus  on  women  in  high  school  and  college  when  the   Pill  was  first  introduced.  They  overlook  that  the  Pill  was  not  available  to  this  earlier   generation  born  in  the  late  1940s  and  50s.  Prescriptions  were  mainly  limited  to   married  women  until  the  late  1960s.  When  the  Pill  was  initially  introduced,  a  doctor   would  make  the  decision  to  prescribe  birth  control  to  a  woman.  The  major  stir  was   occurring  on  college  campuses  where  many  physicians  required  parental  consent,   unless  the  woman  had  marriage  firmly  scheduled  and  announced.58  On  the  other   hand,  some  physicians  were  more  than  willing  to  prescribe  the  Pill.  Kathleen   McKean’s  liberal  gynecologist,  Dr.  Gordon,  put  her  on  the  Pill  in  1963  when  she  was   16.  At  the  same  time,  her  mother  encouraged  her  to  utilize  oral  contraceptives.59   In  1965,  New  York  Times  journalist  Andrew  Hacker  investigated  the  various   opinions  of  the  Pill’s  behavioral  impact  on  unmarried  women,  a  small  number,  since   most  single  women  could  not  get  their  hands  on  a  prescription.  According  to  Hacker,   Americans  believed  that  more  single,  middle-­‐class  women  were  having  a  sexual   experience  prior  to  marriage  than  ever  before,  as  divulged  in  the  1953  publication  
  19. 19.   19   of  Sexual  Behavior  in  the  Human  Female  by  Alfred  Kinsey,  in  which  he  reported  that   50%  of  women  engaged  in  premarital  sex.60     Kathleen,  who  was  18  in  1965,  explains  that  the  pill  did  not  increase  sexual   activity  among  her  peers.  She  recalls,  “I  don’t  feel  that  people  became  more  sexually   active.  There  was  just  more  possibility  you  wouldn’t  get  pregnant.  If  you  didn’t  get   pregnant,  there  were  more  possibilities  for  what  you  could  do  with  your  life.”61   Hacker  concluded,  “People  have  always  been  people,  and  sex  is  no  small  part  of  any   person’s  life.  What  is  new  is  the  public  character  of  sex:  the  fact  that  respectable,  not   under-­‐the-­‐counter,  agencies  now  deal  with  the  subject  for  mass  audiences.”62  Sex   has  always  been  a  part  of  human  life;  the  Pill’s  introduction  had  no  bearing  on  this   fact.  Most  notably,  it  added  to  the  changing  ideals  and  freedoms  among  middle  and   upper  class  women.  They  were  experiencing  a  new  identity  and  purpose  for   themselves  that  would  lead  to  gender-­‐equality  in  the  following  generations.   Obtaining  the  Pill  (1960-­73)   Enovid  and  its  successors  were  kept  out  of  arm’s  reach  to  the  masses  of   young,  unmarried,  middle  class  women  in  the  first  ten  years  of  its  existence.  By  the   end  of  the  decade,  oral  contraceptives  were  the  single  most  widely  used  form  of   birth  control  for  the  married.  Despite  the  opposition  of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church,   most  Americans  did  not  view  the  use  of  the  pill  within  marriage  as  controversial.63   The  real  debate  concerned  the  rights  of  minors  to  obtain  the  Pill  without  parental   consent,  mainly  based  on  the  traditional  fear  that  young  people  could  freely  engage   in  sexual  activity  without  repercussions.  In  1960,  thirty  states  still  maintained  laws   restricting  the  sale  or  advertisement  of  anything  relating  to  birth  control.64  Married  
  20. 20.   20   women  could  quietly  obtain  prescriptions  from  their  doctors  but  it  was  difficult  for   anyone  needing  to  utilize  a  clinic,  i.e.  a  poor  or  unmarried  woman,  to  obtain  any   form  of  birth  control.  Chris  R.  says,  “[The  Pill]  was  not  readily  available  to  high   school  students.  Not  even  really  through  college.”  She  did  not  use  the  Pill  until  she   was  a  sophomore  in  college  in  1970  and  sought  out  a  prescription.65   These  laws  reinforced  the  stigma  associated  with  birth  control  and  the   judgment  that  pre-­‐marital  sex  was  shameful.  It  is  evident  that  the  legal  environment   slowed  the  use  of  oral  contraceptives.  In  the  1960s,  states  with  more  liberal   regulations  regarding  minors  had  35%  more  pill  use  by  15-­‐19  year  olds.66   Furthermore,  in  1967,  when  the  Vietnam  War  instigated  the  official  change  of  the   adult  age  from  21  to  18  with  the  Twenty-­‐sixth  Amendment,  pill  use  numbers   peaked.67  These  changes  in  legislation  were  crucial  to  the  second  generation  of  pill   users  in  the  1970s:  young,  unmarried  women  born  from  1955-­‐60.     This  changing  legal  environment  led  to  the  presence  of  family  planning   services  at  college  health  centers,  which  diffused  oral  contraceptives  to  young   women,  women  who  were  making  career  and  marriage  decisions.  According  to  the   American  College  Health  Association,  in  1966,  only  12  institutions  would  prescribe   the  Pill  to  unmarried  students,  but  by  1973,  19%  of  universities  provided  these   services  freely  and  most  clinics  and  physicians  would  prescribe  the  Pill  without   parental  consent.68  Furthermore,  Family  Planning  programs  were  instated  in  the   late  1960s  to  provide  contraceptive  services  and  long-­‐term  postpartum  medical   care  to  low-­‐income  women.  By  1973,  federal  expenditures  for  family  planning   increased  from  $11  million  (1967)  to  $149  million.  Historian  Heather  Prescott  
  21. 21.   21   explains  that  the  amendments  allowing  the  use  of  public  funds  for  contraceptive   care  were  highly  controversial  and  passed  only  because  they  would  help  prevent   adolescent  pregnancy.69  This  was  partially  true  since  30%  of  the  2  million  seeking   family  planning  services  were  under  the  age  of  19.  Thus,  women  born  from  1955-­‐60   benefited  from  these  changes  as  they  were  entering  high  school  and  college  at  the   stage  in  which  legislation  was  becoming  more  progressive.  They  were  the  first   generation  of  women  that  could  dream  big  for  their  future  without  familial,  cultural   or  legal  restrictions  that  were  out  of  their  control.   The  Pill’s  availability  to  unmarried  women  served  as  a  tangible  symbol  of   their  budding  independence,  control  over  their  own  bodies  and  a  new  individuality.   Armed  with  a  sense  of  entitlement,  women  began  asserting  their  freedom.  Elaine   Tyler  May  explains  in  America  and  the  Pill,  “Women  led  the  charge  against  the   mostly  male  experts  and  officials  who  prohibited  or  limited  access  to  the  pill,   controlled  information  about  it,  and  dismissed  women’s  concerns  about  risks  and   side  effects.”70   The  first  oral  contraceptives  contained  extremely  high  dosages,  10   milligrams  of  hormones,  and  many  users  experienced  side  effects  including   dizziness,  vomiting  and  anxiety.  Women  began  demanding  information  and  answers   and  questioning  their  doctor’s  advice.  By  the  end  of  the  1960s,  pharmaceutical   companies  decreased  hormone  levels  in  the  Pill  when  they  found  that  lower  levels   were  just  as  effective.    Even  though  its  side  effects  caused  some  distress,  the  Pill   remained  the  contraceptive  method  of  choice  among  young,  single  women.71 Also   during  this  time,  the  women’s  health  field  progressed  and  developed  into  an  open  
  22. 22.   22   conversation  between  the  physician  and  the  patient,  especially  as  more  women   entered  the  medical  field.  Patients  reported  that  female  physicians  were  more   sensitive  to  issues  regarding  sex  discrimination,  abortion,  contraception  and  general   health  care  for  women.72     This  heightened  awareness  affected  other  aspects  of  patient  care,  including   adolescents  and  those  in  poverty.  During  the  1960s  and  70s,  the  medical  field   moved  toward  a  specialization  in  adolescent  medicine.  As  the  first  wave  of  baby   boomers  reached  puberty,  additional  medical  facilities  for  this  group  seemed   necessary  and  justifiable.  Physicians  also  began  working  to  eliminate  the  unequal   distribution  of  health  services,  which  had  always  benefitted  middle  and  upper  class   society.  According  to  Heather  Prescott,  “The  founders  of  new  adolescent  clinics  were   frequently  prompted  by  a  desire  to  improve  the  medical  services  for  the  teenagers   who  lived  in  the  impoverished  inner-­‐city  areas…”73  These  doctors  quickly  became   aware  of  the  changing  lifestyles  of  adolescents  of  this  period;  more  and  more   teenagers  from  middle  and  upper  class  backgrounds  had  run  away  or  been  thrown   out  of  their  homes  because  of  issues  with  drug  use,  sexual  behavior  and  political  and   social  conflicts  with  their  parents,  such  as  the  Vietnam  War.  Medical  professionals   who  believed  that  healthcare  was  a  right  and  not  a  privilege  began  working  towards   the  idea  of  a  free  clinic,  which  provided  free  services  and  freedom  from  the   traditional,  formal  hospital  environment.    This  transformation  of  laws  and  attitudes   concerning  women  and  adolescent  health  was  momentous.  With  greater  control  and   knowledge  about  their  bodies,  women  and  patients  alike  were  better  equipped  to   take  it  upon  themselves  to  obtain  better-­‐quality  healthcare.  
  23. 23.   23   Effects  of  the  Pill  1970-­85     Clearly  women  were  aware  of  the  advantages  of  the  Pill.  It  provided  a  99.9%   effective  birth  control  and  the  ability  to  control  one’s  reproduction  with  ease  and   confidence.  New  York  Times  journalist  Andrew  Hacker  conveyed  the  hopeful   attitudes  of  pill-­‐using  women  in  1965,  “They  hope  they  can  discover  some  genuine   purpose  for  themselves  in  a  new  kind  of  personal  and  sexual  relationship  where   they  and  their  partners  will  be  equals.”74  Women  became,  not  only  equals  with  their   husbands,  but  in  some  cases,  equals  with  their  professional  male  counterparts,   making  up  33%  of  all  professional  degrees  earned  in  1984.75       Young,  single  women  in  the  1970s  experienced  college  without  the  agenda  to   start  a  family  and  get  pregnant.  They  set  their  sights  on  graduate  education,   postponed  marriage  and  infiltrated  traditionally  male-­‐dominated  and  long-­‐term   careers.  Long-­‐term  careers  are  not  only  traditionally  male-­‐dominated  occupations   but  include  social  work,  administration  and  academia.  These  women’s  confidence   sprung  from  independence;  they  could  now  separate  from  the  anticipation  of   childbearing.  They  also  became  more  acutely  aware  of  the  treatment  of  women  as   second-­‐class  citizens,  only  fueling  their  dedication  in  pursuing  leadership  and   managerial  positions.  The  years  1970-­‐1985  saw  a  mass  movement  of  middle-­‐class,   highly  educated  women  into  the  professional  domain  and  the  blending  of  gender   roles  in  the  workplace  and  at  home.     The  College  “Surge”   Martha  Bailey  describes  how  decisions  made  at  ages  18-­‐20  strongly  influence   a  young  woman’s  career  path.  She  argues,  “Not  only  do  women  make  choices  about  
  24. 24.   24   human  capital  investment  and  occupation,  but  among  women  reaching  that  age   before  the  pill  was  released,  roughly  50%  had  married,  and  more  than  40%  had   conceived  by  their  21st  birthdays.”76  In  contrast,  when  middle-­‐class  women  born   from  1955-­‐60  reached  the  ages  of  18-­‐20,  they  were  hardly  concerned  with  marriage   and  starting  a  family.  The  New  York  Times  discussed  the  surge  in  female  college   enrollment,  highlighting  that  women’s  attendance  had  climbed  by  56%  to  4.7   million  from  1970-­‐79,  a  total  of  1.7  million  more  women.77  The  number  of  men   entering  college  rose  as  well  to  5.1  million,  but  only  by  16%,  a  total  of  723,000.  The   significance  is  that  the  gap  had  narrowed;  there  were  only  410,000  fewer  women   than  men  in  college  in  1979.  Nine  years  earlier,  there  had  been  1.4  million  fewer   women.     In  terms  of  the  United  States  population  as  a  whole,  52%  of  women   graduated  from  high  school  but  only  8%  attended  college  in  1970  and  by  1979,  66%   of  women  were  graduating  from  high  school  and  12%  were  obtaining  bachelor’s   degrees,  a  figure  that  nearly  doubled.78  A  survey  conducted  in  1968  also  showed   that  attitudes  and  goals  transitioned  during  this  period.  The  survey  asked  female   college  freshmen  whether  they  saw  themselves  at  home  or  at  work  at  age  35.  Those   who  thought  they  would  be  at  work  began  low,  around  30%.  The  survey  was   conducted  again  on  college  freshmen  in  the  late  70s  and  a  remarkable  80%   responded  that  they  envisioned  themselves  at  work  when  they  reached  age  35.79     Several  changes  sparked  a  new  mentality  amongst  these  women.  The  means   and  right  to  effective  birth  control  and  safe  abortions  instilled  a  confidence  that   motherhood  could  remain  in  the  somewhat  distant  future,  their  education  was  now  
  25. 25.   25   an  independent  endeavor,  and  college  was  a  place  to  seek  an  identity,  no  longer  a   holding  tank  in  which  to  find  a  husband.  Born  in  1953  in  Santa  Monica,  California,   Jane  T.  was  confident  from  an  early  age  that  she  would  go  to  college  and  become  a   career  woman.  Jane’s  only  memories  of  her  mother  were  as  a  working  woman.  She   explains,  “For  my  inspiration,  I  needed  to  look  no  further  than  my  own  home.  My   mother  did  not  have  a  job,  she  had  a  career.”80  There  was  never  a  question  in  Jane’s   mind  that  she  would  go  to  college  and  have  a  career  herself  and  the  Pill  was  a  part  of   her  future  plans.       Like  many  women  her  age,  Jane  obtained  contraceptives  from  her  college   health  clinic  at  UC  -­‐  Berkeley  in  1971.  She  had  a  steady  boyfriend  since  high  school   and  had  been  using  condoms  and  foam  but  was  looking  for  an  easier  and  more   stable  form  of  birth  control.    She  says,  “Once  in  college,  I  think  almost  every  girl  I   knew  was  on  the  Pill.  It  was  the  70s,  it  was  Berkeley  and  there  was  no  stigma  about   [it].”  She  discussed  how  boys  just  assumed  she  was  on  the  Pill  and  it  was   automatically  the  girl’s  problem  if  she  got  pregnant.  Furthermore,  no  one  would   volunteer  to  wear  a  condom  because  “that  was  not  cool.”     She  entertained  a  number  of  career  ideas  during  her  years  at  UC  –  Berkeley,   including  law  school,  acting  and  social  justice,  due  to  her  interests  in  the  turbulent   political  landscape  of  the  country  in  the  1970s.  She  applied  to  law  school  and  was   accepted  to  UCLA  but  decided  to  forgo  the  plan  because  she  was  attracted  to  show   business.  She  explains,  “I  kind  of  fell  into  what  became  my  career  as  a  casting   director  in  Los  Angeles.”    
  26. 26.   26   Throughout  this  period,  1,000  lawsuits  were  filed,  imposing  affirmative   action  at  universities  and  corporations  to  end  gender  discrimination  and  the  hiring   of  men  instead  of  women.  The  courage  and  confidence  to  question  the  American   legal  system  began  with  the  National  Organization  for  Women  (NOW),  founded  by   Betty  Friedan  and  Pauli  Murray  in  1966.  It  became  one  of  the  most  prominent  and   influential  forces  in  fighting  the  courts  and  legislatures  for  equal  pay  and   employment.  Their  first  success  occurred  when  they  represented  Lorena  Weeks,  a   woman  who  worked  for  Southern  Bell  and  applied  for  a  promotion  in  order  to  send   her  three  children  to  college.  Weeks  said  that  her  application  was  returned.  She   explained,  “They  said  they  appreciated  that  I  wanted  to  advance  within  the   company,  but  it’s  a  job  not  awarded  to  women.”81  Weeks.  v.  Southern  Bell  was  one  of   the  first  big  victories  in  ending  job  discrimination  against  women  and  NOW  soon   welcomed  more  radical  women,  educated  in  the  ways  of  civil  rights  protests.   In  1973,  Betty  Friedan  reflected  on  these  societal  changes  in  a  New  York   Times  article,  explaining  that  society  had  been  transformed,  so  that  women,  who   happen  to  be  people  who  give  birth,  could  make  their  own  responsible  choice   whether  or  not  –  and  when  –  to  have  children.82  Childbearing  no  longer  barred  them   from  participating  in  society  in  their  own  right.  83  In  her  frank  tone,  laced  with   accomplishment,  Friedan  stated,  "...the  importance  of  work  for  women  goes  beyond   economics.  How  else  can  women  participate  in  the  action  and  decisions  of  an   advanced  industrial  society  unless  they  have  the  training  and  opportunity  and  skills   that  come  from  participating  in  it?"84  These  feminist  ideals  certainly  influenced   young  college  women  as  they  looked  to  the  future.  
  27. 27.   27   Women  born  from  1955-­‐60  began  to  prepare  themselves  for  long-­‐term   careers;  they  were  taking  more  math  and  science  courses  in  high  school,  choosing   college  majors  that  were  more  like  those  of  their  male  peers  and  demonstrating  a   greater  attachment  to  a  future  career.85  Indicative  of  this  transformation,  physician   Laney  M.  was  drawn  to  the  field  of  medicine  as  young  as  12  years  old  and  despite   her  upbringing  in  a  small  farming  community  in  Durand,  Illinois,  she  was   determined  to  pursue  her  dreams  of  becoming  a  doctor.  She  recollects,  “I  was   always  intrigued  by  the  doctor’s  office  and  everything  that  went  on  there.  I  felt  like   medicine  combined  some  of  my  interests  in  science,  people  and  service.”86  Born  in   1956,  Laney  provides  evidence  that  female  roles  were  quickly  changing.  She  says,  “It   was  always  expected  that  I  could  change  tires,  drive  a  stick  shift,  pitch  in  with   livestock  chores,  and  defend  myself.  No  excuses  for  being  a  girl.”   During  high  school,  Laney  was  serious  about  her  studies  and  though  birth   control  was  not  discussed  in  her  household,  the  attitude  was  that  decent  young   women  did  not  get  pregnant  before  marriage.  The  majority  of  her  friends  were  not   sexually  active  in  high  school  and  Laney  did  not  have  a  need  for  the  Pill  until  1984,   after  meeting  her  husband  in  1983  and  marrying  in  1986.  Laney  was  in  residency  in   Family  Medicine  during  this  period.  She  says,  “Reliable  birth  control  allowed  me  to   postpone  child  bearing  until  a  time  when  it  was  compatible  with  my  career  and   family  goals.”   The  Pill  presented  an  advantage  for  women  like  Laney,  seeking  professional   degrees.  Though  Laney  did  not  find  the  Pill  to  be  necessary  in  her  teenage  years  and   early  20s,  it  allowed  her  the  security  of  avoiding  pregnancy  at  a  pivotal  point  in  her  
  28. 28.   28   career.  She  attests,  “I  think  an  unplanned  pregnancy  certainly  could  have  derailed   the  best  of  plans  and  [it]  helped  me  control  my  future  and  allowed  me  to  pursue  my   career  goals.”     The  increasing  rates  at  which  women  were  earning  bachelor’s  degrees  in   male-­‐dominated  majors  emphasize  the  shift  in  how  women  viewed  college  and  their   lifetime  goals.  Women  earned  9.1%  of  all  bachelor’s  degrees  in  business  in  the  years   1970-­‐71,  by  1984,  they  received  45.1%  of  such  degrees.87  Women  flooded  into  the   life  science  majors  as  well,  the  core  curriculum  required  to  apply  to  medical  school;   27%  of  life  science  majors  were  women  in  1970  and  by  1980,  they  constituted   50.7%.  The  engineering  field  also  experienced  a  major  increase  in  women:  in  1970,   1%  of  engineering  degrees  were  awarded  to  women.  10  years  later,  women   constituted  14%  of  earned  engineering  degrees.88  Their  success  was  indicative  of   their  confidence  and  future  plans.  By  1990,  women  surpassed  men  in  college   attendance  and  graduation,  obtaining  53%  of  all  bachelor  degrees  awarded  across   the  United  States.89  A  revolution  had  taken  place  and  women  claimed  the  most   empowering  benefit:  choice.   Graduate  School   In  1970,  women’s  career  choices  changed  abruptly  and  graduate  schools   experienced  an  enormous  increase  in  applications  from  women.  Quotas  relaxed  in   response  and  the  number  of  women  obtaining  graduate  degrees  increased   significantly.  Women  earned  31.7%  of  master’s  degrees  in  1960,  40.1%  in  1970  and   50%  by  1980.  They  earned  10%  of  PhDs  in  1960  and  increased  to  34%  by  1980.   Most  outstanding  is  the  increase  of  professional  degrees  earned  by  women  
  29. 29.   29   (medicine,  dentistry,  law  and  business):  2.7%  in  1960,  6.3%  in  1970,  18.72%  in   1976  and  33.2%  by  1984.90  A  1982  medical  school  graduate,  Laney  was  part  of  the   major  flood  of  women  into  the  medical  schools.  Similar  patterns  are  evident  for   architects,  economists  and  engineers.  Overall,  the  number  of  women  obtaining   graduate  degrees  increased  103%  from  1970-­‐79.91  Most  of  these  professions  are   highly  lucrative  fields  and  the  small  percentage  of  female  professionals  in  previous   years  reflects  the  societal  notion  that  men  were  the  primary  breadwinners.  Their   increasing  presence  from  1970-­‐85  suggests  that  this  notion  was  quickly  changing.     The  transformation  in  female  career  choice  is  best  explained  by  Claudia   Goldin’s  “quiet  revolution”  theory,  which  states  that  a  woman’s  decision  concerning   labor  involvement  is  based  on  whether  it  will  be  “long  and  continuous”  or   “intermittent  and  brief.”92  She  clarifies  that  women  joining  the  labor  force  is  not   revolutionary  since  women  have  been  employed  in  the  United  States  historically.   The  impact  of  the  Pill  and  the  changing  social  climate  is  revealed  in  the  rapid  shift  of   choice  and  liberation  in  women  applying  to  male-­‐dominated  institutions  and  male-­‐ dominated  careers.  These  choices  reflect  the  change  in  confidence  and  the  ability  to   find  satisfaction  and  identity  in  one’s  job.  The  turning  point  in  this  decision-­‐making   is  visible  in  the  1970  surge  of  graduate  school  applications,  especially  professional   schools.  The  Pill’s  simultaneous  availability  to  college-­‐aged  women  relates  to  this   pre-­‐meditated  change  and  a  woman’s  predicted  success  in  school.  On  the  contrary,   women  who  have  children  while  enrolled  in  graduate  schools  are  more  likely  to   experience  strain  balancing  family  and  education  and  experience  a  higher  dropout   rate.93    
  30. 30.   30   Equality  in  the  Workplace   Prior  to  legislation  like  the  Equal  Pay  Act  (1963),  which  prohibits  wage   disparity  based  on  sex  and  Title  IX  of  Higher  Education  Act  (1972),  which  forbids   sexual  discrimination  in  education  and  collegiate  sports,  job  discrimination  and   harassment  restricted  women  hoping  to  gain  footing  in  the  professional  world.  It   was  perfectly  legal  for  employers  to  discriminate  on  the  basis  of  sex  and  it  was  not   unusual  for  a  woman  to  be  asked  if  she  planned  on  getting  married  during  a  job   interview.94  The  small  percentage  of  women  hired  into  male-­‐dominated  professions   found  themselves  transferred  to  certain  areas:  female  journalists  to  the  women’s   page,  doctors  to  pediatrics  and  lawyers  to  real  estate  and  insurance  law.  Women   constituted  6%  of  doctors,  3%  of  lawyers  and  less  than  1%  of  engineers  and  though   more  than  half  a  million  women  worked  for  the  federal  government,  they  made  up   1.4%  of  workers  in  the  top  four  pay  grades.95     This  discrepancy  fueled  anger  in  the  1960s  and  70s  as  women  joined  forces   in  the  feminist  movement.  An  anonymous  “Roberta”  expresses  this  sentiment.  She   declares,  "Jobs  for  women  are  not  as  readily  available  as  jobs  for  men.  Interesting   jobs  in  which  women  don't  have  to  face  exploitation,  under-­‐utilization  of  their   talents,  discrimination,  misogyny  and  male  domination  are  at  a  premium  indeed.”96   These  assertive  and  bold  ideals  of  the  women’s  liberation  movement  were  integral   to  the  blending  of  gender  roles.   In  1962,  a  New  York  Times  columnist,  Martin  Tolchin  lamented  the   differentiation  of  gender  roles,  which  deterred  young  women  from  male-­‐dominated   fields  because  they  were  considered  “masculine.”    Tolchin  said,  “It  isn’t  that  women  
  31. 31.   31   need  to  be  aggressive…it’s  that  a  little  girl  growing  up  needs  the  image  of  a  woman   of  talent  and  ability  who  can  be  feminine  and  still  do  a  job.”97  By  1970,  with  the   influx  of  women  graduating  from  professional  programs,  bias  began  to  ease  and   affirmative  action  forced  universities  and  corporations  to  accept  women  without   regard  for  their  gender.  Also  contributing  to  women’s  presence  in  the  workplace   was  a  rejection  of  female  submission  and  the  capability  to  question  authority.     Attorney  Susan  K’s  reaction  to  the  gender-­‐discrimination  she  witnessed  in   everyday  life  invigorated  her  aspiration  to  be  a  successful  career  woman.  She   recalls,  “I  was  motivated  to  have  a  career  by  the  sexism  I  saw  in  daily  life  growing   up.  It  wasn’t  just  in  my  family,  mine  was  pretty  ordinary  in  that  respect,  but  women   weren’t  really  listened  to  very  much  and  their  opinions  didn’t  matter  and  they  didn’t   have  any  economic  power  and  I  just  didn’t  like  that,  I  didn’t  want  to  be  in  that   position.”98  Throughout  college  Susan  was  unsure  about  her  future  plans  and  her   final  decision  to  attend  law  school  resulted  from  her  defiant  nature.  A  professor  that   Susan  disliked  but  respected  led  her  in  that  direction.  She  remembers,  “He  said,  I   don’t  think  you  want  to  do  that,  I  don’t  think  you’ll  be  successful  at  that  and   encouraged  me  to  become  a  professor  and  not  to  go  to  law  school.  I  just  think  I  have   a  rebellious  streak  in  me  and  I  went  well  I’ll  show  you  and  I  ended  up  taking  the   LSAT  and  going  to  law  school.”99  Susan  graduated  from  Lewis  and  Clark  in  1980  and   then  law  school  at  the  University  of  Oregon  in  1984.       The  transformation  had  finally  occurred  for  these  determined  women.  The   growing  number  of  strong  and  successful  women  pursuing  these  types  of  careers   influenced  teenage  girls  and  as  workplace  conditions  improved,  they  were  even  
  32. 32.   32   more  inclined  to  follow  in  their  footsteps.  Though  1970  was  the  turning  point,  the   late  1970s  and  early  80s  reflected  this  trend.  Women’s  earnings  comparable  to  men   rose  and  more  women  developed  attachment  to  the  workplace  and  their  personal   success.  Ethnographic  research  by  economist  Claudia  Goldin  confirms  that  lower   income  and  poor  women  developed  a  greater  attachment  to  their  work  as  well.100   These  women  experiencing  career  success  confirmed  that  they  were  also  more   content  at  home.101   Later  Marriage  Age     At  the  end  of  the  19th  century,  a  growing  number  of  feminists  and  elite   women  were  choosing  not  to  marry  or  start  a  family  because  of  their  intent  on   joining  the  professional  workforce,  aware  that  household  duties  and  childcare   would  hinder  their  goals.  Though  suffragists  and  feminists  argued  for  more  rights   and  opportunities  for  married  women  and  mothers,  Reta  Childe  Door  illustrated  the   realistic  outcome  for  a  married  woman  in  1915.  She  wrote,  "Marriage  had  taken  her   out  of  intellectual  work  and  made  her  into  a  domestic...her  position  seemed  wholly   irrational."102     Years  later  in  1960,  it  was  still  difficult  to  be  a  married  woman  and  a   professional.  The  marital  status  for  female  lawyers,  scientists,  engineers  and   physicians  was  strikingly  disproportionate  to  their  male  colleagues:  8.2%  of  male   lawyers  remained  single  while  overwhelmingly,  32.2%  of  female  lawyers  were  still   single;  9%  of  male  engineers  were  single  while  a  whopping  37%  of  their  female   colleagues  were  single  and  likewise,  88%  of  male  physicians  were  married  while   only  50%  of  female  physicians  settled  down.103                                                                            
  33. 33.   33   Although  women  showed  interest  in  professional  careers  and  utilizing  their   skills  acquired  in  college,  marriage  often  signaled  the  end  of  workforce   participation.  Even  in  1970,  as  legal  amendments  enforced  gender  equality  in  the   workforce,  Cynthia  Fuchs  Epstein  warned  that  early  marriage  could  still  limit  a   woman’s  options.  She  explained,  “If  a  young  woman  decides  to  marry  early  she  has   put  herself  in  a  position  where  she  has  taken  on  many  more  demands  than  she   anticipated  acquiring  and  which  compete  heavily  with  the  demands  of  career   preparation."104  She  held  that  if  a  woman  delayed  marriage  and  established  a   professional  career  prior  to  marriage,  her  husband  would  be  more  accepting  of  her   career.   As  the  Pill  diffused  among  young  college  women  and  their  futures  became   more  focused  on  a  career,  they  no  longer  felt  the  need  to  find  a  man  for  economic   support.  Their  attitude  toward  careers  that  required  a  long-­‐term  commitment   changed  and  delaying  children  meant  they  could  invest  themselves  whole-­‐heartedly.   Susan  K.  says  that  the  Pill  allowed  her  to  delay  having  children  for  seven  years  after   getting  married.  She  explains,  “We  postponed  childbearing  until  after  both  of  us  had   a  chance  to  get  our  feet  on  the  ground  career-­‐wise.”  Having  children  made  Susan   realize  the  difficulty  in  maintaining  a  full  time  job  and  raising  a  child  simultaneously.   She  says,  in  retrospect,  “I  definitely  knew  I  could  not  have  children  and  get  law   school  launched,  graduate  from  college  and  get  my  career  started.  [The  Pill]  was   instrumental  that  way.”  She  believes  that  in  her  profession  as  an  attorney,  it  is   almost  impossible  to  raise  children  and  have  a  full  time  job.    
  34. 34.   34   The  timing  of  the  Pill’s  availability  to  unmarried  women  directly  correlates   with  later  marriage  age.  Among  women  born  in  1950,  almost  50%  married  before   age  23  but  fewer  than  30%  of  women  born  in  1957  were  married  before  then.105  In   the  1970s,  individuals  between  the  ages  of  20  and  25  were  more  commonly  single,   meaning  that  others,  including  women  not  attending  college,  were  joined  in  the   wave  of  postponing  marriage.  For  those  graduating  from  college,  the  marriage  age   increased  from  22.4  for  women  born  in  1947  to  25  for  women  born  in  1957.106   Claudia  Goldin  and  Lawrence  Katz  display  this  trend  as  a  result  of  accessible  and   reliable  contraception,  which  impacted  a  number  of  choices:  women’s  “college-­‐going   and  graduation,  post-­‐college  education,  chances  of  having  a  high-­‐powered   professional  career,  age  at  first  marriage,  labor  force  participation  and  age  at  first   birth.”107  Goldin  and  Katz  add  that  feminism  certainly  complemented  and  reinforced   the  Pill’s  impact,  encouraging  women  to  take  advantage  of  social  change.108   The  Pill  forged  a  somewhat  different  pathway  among  lower-­‐class  women  and   minorities,  as  conflicting  perceptions  of  its  role  and  significance  were  confused  with   suggestions  of  classism,  racism  and  gender  bias.  Some  African  American  men  saw   the  Pill  as  a  genocidal  weapon  to  create  an  all-­‐white  society.  African  American   women  rejected  this  notion  and  when  Planned  Parenthood  in  Pittsburgh,   Pennsylvania  was  forced  to  close  because  of  firebomb  threats,  black  women   organized  its  reopening.  Elizabeth  Siegel  Watkins  argues  that  the  Pill  had  a  similar   result  in  the  black  community  as  it  did  in  middle-­‐class  circles.  She  states,  “Within   parts  of  the  black  community,  evaluations  of  the  Pill  broke  down  gender  lines.  For   these  women,  as  for  so  many  other  women  around  the  country,  the  Pill  represented