Household economy and its effects on women in early America

Published 26 Jun 2017

In early America, women were regarded as mere helpers to their husbands. Men used to do most of the skilled jobs and farm work and their role was to provide food for the family. Women on the other hand had to take care of the household and provide for whatever was required in them. They thus resorted to weaving using fibers from cotton, flax and wool. They made clothes for domestic purposes and other upholsteries. They also used to make soaps using animal fats and lye. They would also make candles using animal fats which were then used for lighting at night (Berkin C. 1996). During this period, women could work with and also trade with other women in the community to dispose off excess goods while acquiring what they required.

Effects of household economy to women

During the pre-colonial era in America, women were lowly regarded and they never owned property. As the concept of household economics gained momentum, efforts and potential of the women was slowly gaining recognition. This was evident during the revolutionary war when women took up the role of providing for their families when their husband left for war (Berkin C. 1996). Household economics was the beginning of women revolution in America and it formed the basis for women recognition in the world today. Household economics also helped to break the male chauvinistic believe that was evident in those days. Also during those times, development was measured in terms of farming exercises and industrial production. This had made the role of women insignificant in the economic growth. However, with household economics, the trade that emerged helped to widen the scope and the definition of development which was a major breakthrough for the women. Household economics also brought together the women thus widening their abilities and perceptions. It is from this close association that the women realized that they had the capabilities and thus stopped behaving like mere assets of their husbands (Berkin C. 1996).

Though the women’s work in early America was not highly regarded, its impact was always great and could not be disregarded. Household economics was important in that the women were able to contribute to the effective running of the family. The women though with limited experience, they changed their ideas into products and services which were later traded. This helped in the formation of the financial and business world (Sage J. H. 2007).

During the pre-industrial period in America, a woman’s work was mainly spinning of thread and making clothes. Women were considered to be weak and inexperienced thus could not take hard jobs like farming. These women were employed in the factories as spinners but were always in conflict with their employers due to their gender. They were also were lowly paid than the males. Capitalist system is a system which allows an individual to own property privately or jointly. During the pre-colonial period, women never used to own any property and all their earnings were accounted to their husbands. Capitalism system enabled them to own what they worked for (Sage J. H. 2007). Both systems had their own advantages and disadvantages. In pre-colonial times, women were not subjected to hard labor while in capitalism; they had to work hard to be paid. Capitalism system though had tough measures; it opened the doors for liberalization of women. Capitalism also brought about the concept of equality in labor payments and formed a basis for women acceptance as important players to the growth of the economy.


Women have come a long way from the pre-industrial era where they were hardly recognized to the present times. Determination and hard work has contributed to their achievements. Today, their contributions are well recognized and equal opportunities for all individuals provided. The law prohibits gender discrimination and advocates for fair treatment of all.


  • Berkin C. (1996). First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • Sage J. H. (2007). Women in Colonial America.
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