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5 Things Women Couldn't Do in the 1960's

It wasn't long ago that a wife was considered her husband's "helpmate" first and foremost. Luckily, the rules have changed.



This blog is excerpted from CNN, 8/25/2014 Article by Katie McLaughlin.


Can you imagine pregnancy being a fireable offense? How about job security hinging on your weight or the softness of your hands? What if you couldn't open a bank account or establish a line of credit unless you had a husband to cosign for you? What if you had the grades to attend a school like Princeton, but your gender kept you on the other side of those hallowed, ivy-covered halls?


Get a credit card

“In the 1960s, a bank could refuse to issue a credit card to an unmarried woman; even if she was married, her husband was required to cosign.”

As recently as the 1970s, credit cards in many cases were issued with only a husband's signature. It was not until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 that it became illegal to refuse a credit card to a woman based on her gender.


Serve on a jury


It varied by state (Utah deemed women fit for jury duty way back in 1879), but the main reason women were kept out of jury pools was that they were considered the center of the home, which was their primary responsibility as caregivers. They were also thought to be too fragile to hear the grisly details of crimes and too sympathetic by nature to be able to remain objective about those accused of offenses. In 1961, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Florida law that exempted women from serving on juries. It wasn't until 1973 that women could serve on juries in all 50 states.


Go on the birth control pill

“In 1960, the pill was approved for use as a contraceptive. Even so, the pill was illegal in some states and could be prescribed only to married women for purposes of family planning, and not all pharmacies stocked it.”

Some of those opposed said oral contraceptives were immoral, promoted prostitution and were tantamount to abortion. It wasn't until after 1965 that birth control was approved for use by all women, regardless of marital status. In short, birth control meant a woman could complete her education, enter the work force and plan her own life.


Get an Ivy League education


Yale and Princeton didn't accept female students until 1969. Harvard didn't admit women until 1977 (when it merged with the all-female Radcliffe College). With the exception of the University of Pennsylvania, which began accepting women on a case-by-case basis in 1876, and Cornell, which admitted its first female student in 1870 (also offering admission under special circumstances), women couldn't attend Ivy League schools until 1969 at the earliest. Brown (which merged with women's college Pembroke), Dartmouth and Columbia did not offer admission to women until 1971, 1972 and 1981, respectively.


Experience equality in the workplace

“In 1963, Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women's report revealed that women earned 59 cents for every dollar that men earned and were kept out of the more lucrative professional positions.”

When the 1964 Civil Rights Act was going through Congress, an amendment made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender as well as race. When the amendment was not taken seriously regarding women in the workplace, the National Organization of Women was founded to enforce full equality for women in truly equal partnership with men.


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