Origins of the Second Shift

July 17, 2013

A Home Economics Class

The origins of the second shift really rises with the Industrial Revolution. The rise of factory work sent men to factory jobs, and left women to care for the home. The Victorians reinforced the idea of separate spheres for men and women. The ideal woman was an “angel of the home” who would provide relief for her world-weary husband. Women’s work, therefore, was defined as housework.

The 1920s also marked the beginning of the rise of housewifery as a science. As new household technologies were developed, home economics became an degree. Women now had to be taught how to properly run a home, and running a home became a legitimate career. “Housekeeping and child care became specialized missions that required commitment, talent, training, executive abilities, and professional skills” (Woloch 292). Standards of housekeeping rose. But with higher levels of cleanliness, came higher demands on women’s time.

Now cooking, cleaning, and childcare is a full time job, and women who are able to stay at home are gaining recognition for their contributions to their family. Unfortunately, caring for the home becomes a full time job for those that have jobs outside the home, as well. This is the Second Shift.


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