Role of Women in 19th Century Europe

Nineteenth century Europe experienced a huge shift in the economic integration in the society. The middle class and working class population increased. While the real wages increased in general, the expenses also increased.   The gap between the rich and poor continued to endure as changed the role of women in the society based on their economic situation. Therefore, the statement that the place for women in the latter half of the nineteenth century seemed to be the home is not completely accurate. The role of the women were based on their economic condition.   This paper will evaluate how women’s career decisions changed through the different economic sectors in Europe starting from the poor and working class women engaged in sweated industry, housemaids, middle-class mistresses. Moreover, the role and career decisions of women were also affected by the urbanization in terms of marriage and sex, gender roles, growing importance of home making along with the idea of feminism.

“Many young domestics from the countryside made successful transitions to working-class wife and mother.” Despite of this, a great number of women, living in a growing family with limited income, were employed in sweated industries. The earnings of these married women were based on per piece production rather than hourly pay. The clothes stitched were then used for display in shops and departmental stores. Women had to work from home in order to support their families and increase the income earned.

Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century allowed middle-class women to have “both servants and money at disposal”   and become more conscious about their clothing. The lifestyle for the upper middle-class people started becoming more aristocratic.   However, at the same time, while upper middle class women were staying at home, the demand for not only the women in sweater industries but also as housemaids increased leading women from the poorer sector of the economy to further...