Dating in the 1930
Not considered suitable for heavy construction jobs, women on relief were shunted into sewing rooms; black and Mexican American women faced racial discrimination as well.The Social Security Act and the Fair Labor Standards Acts did not initially cover major areas of women’s employment such as agricultural work or domestic service.Furthermore, social security benefits were structured around a traditional model of a male breadwinner and dependent female housewife, which disadvantaged women who didn’t fit that profile and implied that women deserved economic rights only in relation to men.The Wagner Act of 1935 fueled a dramatic growth in organized labor, and woman workers participated in major CIO strikes and union organizing drives, but few women held leadership positions.In the South and West, Mexican American women on the bottom rung of the economic ladder faced similar conditions, but with an added dimension: the threat of deportation back to Mexico because of fears about competition for jobs and relief.In the depths of the Depression, perhaps one-third of the Mexican American population returned to Mexico, straining family ties and causing extreme financial hardship.The iconic image of the Depression is “The Forgotten Man”: the newly poor, downwardly mobile, unemployed worker, often standing in a breadline or selling apples on a street corner.
Housewives who previously hired servants began to do their own housework; sometimes white women competed for jobs previously abandoned as too undesirable to black women.(Only one in ten farm families in 1935 had electricity.) Farm families also struggled with declining agricultural prices, foreclosures, and in the Midwest, a terrible drought that contributed to the Dust Bowl migrations of that decade.African Americans, long subject to discrimination and prejudice, often viewed the Depression differently from whites.Times had always been hard, and suddenly they just got a lot harder.The novelist and poet Maya Angelou, who grew up in Stamps, Arkansas, recalled, “The country had been in the throes of the Depression for two years before the Negroes in Stamps knew it.