Why Women Won
How, when, and why did women in the US obtain legal rights equal to men’s regarding the workplace, marriage, family, Social Security, criminal justice, credit markets, and other parts of the economy and society, decades after they gained the right to vote? The story begins with the civil rights movement and the somewhat fortuitous nature of the early and key women’s rights legislation. The women’s movement formed and pressed for further rights. Of the 155 critical moments in women’s rights history I’ve compiled from 1905 to 2023, 45% occurred between 1963 and 1973. The greatly increased employment of women, the formation of women’s rights associations, the belief that women’s votes mattered, and the unstinting efforts of various members of Congress were behind the advances. But women soon became splintered by marital status, employment, region, and religion far more than men. A substantial group of women emerged in the 1970s to oppose various rights for women, just as they did during the suffrage movement. They remain a potent force today.