By Rochelle Gatlin
Booklet by way of Gatlin, Rochelle
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Additional resources for American Women Since 1945
Youth became another Cold War concern. The high post-war birth rate and prolonged years of adolescent schooling focused national attention on the 'teenager'. Business and advertising firms welcomed the new 'youth market' for records, clothes and automobiles; but parents, religious leaders and psychologists were becoming worried about adolescent 'alienation'. Youth heroes, such 46 AMERICAN WOMEN SINCE 1945 as James Dean of Rebel Without a Cause and Marlon Brando of The Wild One, were brooding, resentful 'loners'.
Twenty-five states in 1965 refused women unemployment compensation on the grounds that they had left their last job because of family obligations. From 1962 to 1965, the number of states refusing to pay unemployment compensation to pregnant women rose from 38 to 45. Sixteen states in 1965 had no minimum wage law, and no state had set a maximum of 40 hours of work a week. Since 1938, however, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has provided a minimum wage and overtime pay after 40 hours a week for all covered workers.
This was a higher proportion than among families in lower income brackets. 8 Among white mothers of pre-school-age children, the employment rate was clearly and inversely correlated with husbands' income. But for married women with older children, the relationship between employment and husbands' earnings was becoming less clear. The definition of economic 'necessity' expanded in the post-war period to include a 'higher standard of living'. Helping to buy a home, automobile or furniture, paying for the children's college educations or for family vacations - all these became acceptable reasons for married women's employment.