7 Things Women Weren’t Allowed to Do for Many Decades

Historically speaking, American women have enjoyed full citizenship rights for only a brief period of time, only in the last forty years or so. Globally, the relative equality offered in the United States is an aberration. In many cultures, a woman who attempts to assert her full rights as a human being risks abuse, jail, or even death. How has institutionalized discrimination lessened in recent years? Here are 7 things women weren’t allowed to do for many decades.

Pregnant businesswoman working in office

With Child, Get Fired
Hard as it may be to believe now, prior to 1978 a woman could be fired outright just for pending motherhood. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, decided to update the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make it illegal for a woman to be dismissed from work on this basis. This is not to say scurrilous bosses didn’t (don’t) still find ways to accomplish the same end, but at least it doesn’t carry the nation’s official blessing.

Workplace Harassment
Hard as it may be to believe, not a single woman was harassed in the workplace prior to 1980. Complaints were seen as proof a woman shouldn’t be working in the first place. In 1977, a court finally recognized that harassment was indeed a thing – no duh! In 1980, it was officially defined by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

The Delicate Gender
This bit of discrimination against women is so ridiculous as to almost be unbelievable. Almost. According to anthropologist Genevieve Bell, the increasing use of the steam engine in the early 19th century, and especially its use in trains, created a near panic. What was the problem? The thinking of the day was that a woman’s body was not strong enough for travel at a whopping 50 mph; she might faint, or worse. The solution? No women on trains.

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