The New Women of the Gilded Age

A look at the impact of the Gilded Age in America on feminism.

This paper examines how the Gilded Age in America oversaw the creation of a new middle class within the American social fabric, as a result of the increased wealth generated by industry during the period. It looks at how these changes meant that all women could be educated and become politically aware. It also shows, however, despite all of these successes, female education and advancement in employment remained a luxury, rather than a necessity in the eyes of most Americans and how the ?separate sphere? ideology of the earlier century ideologically limited full feminine advancement in politics.
“In America, the birthrate had begun to decline, and women, freed from constant childbearing, advocated in greater numbers for increased access to the political sphere in the form of the vote and increased access to birth control methods. ?These strong, courageous young women will take our place and complete our work…Ancient prejudice has become softened and public sentiment liberalized. Women have demonstrated their ability to carry out our cause to victory.? (Gage, Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, Eds. History of Women’s Suffrage: 1878-1885, 91) Women became advocates, not only in the women’s rights movement, but were prominent in the temperance movement and the progressive movement as well.”