• Length:
    10 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–3 hours per week
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    Add a Verified Certificate for $50 USD

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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time

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Recommended for those with an undergraduate level interest in history, labor, and gender.

About this course

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As we see American women coming into positions of economic and political influence, we start to wonder: why now? The Women Have Always Worked MOOC, offered in four parts, explores the history of women in America and introduces students to historians’ work to uncover the place of women and gender in America’s past.

The final segment of the Women Have Always Worked series begins with an examination of how the Cold War reinforced the ideals of the suburban, nuclear family and how these ideals impacted women's trajectory towards independence and equality. We will explore the growing discrepancy and conflict between the breadwinner-homemaker system of beliefs and efforts for peace, economic fairness, and gender equality. We will discover how the feminist movement grew and evolved from the 1960s to today.

This exploration into the evolution of the feminist movement continues with a new section that examines the current climate in America. We will take a look at the 2016 presidential campaign and how women across the globe reacted to the results of that election; the rise of the Me Too movement and other grass roots activism led by women and aimed at social and economic inequality; and how the 2018 midterm election ushered in a new era of women in politics.

Together we will learn how women began to ask for equality and what the word equality meant and still means for different women. But we'll also ask you to consider a more difficult set of questions that revolve around whether equality for some women might limit the freedom of others. Will women demand benefits for themselves that provide a few with equality with men while fomenting inequality with each other? What about sisterhood? Will some of us move forward while others are left behind? These are questions that haunt us today.

What you'll learn

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  • How the middle-class, suburban housewife was considered a buffer against the ideological threats of communism
  • How women's participation in activism and wage work led up to the events of the 1960s
  • How gender-based discrimination in activism prompted women to begin voicing their discontent with the perception of women’s “natural” roles
  • How different groups of feminists challenged old systems of thought and questioned gendered definitions and interpretations of democracy, equality, and freedom
  • How working women encountered different experiences based on class, race, and citizenship status as they faced the challenges of meeting the demands of an increasingly consumerist society
  • How and why women's labor force participation rate declined in the 21st century, including the impact of globalization
  • How women's engagement in work and family lives has impacted the political environment

Meet your instructors

Alice Kessler-Harris
R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History Emerita
Columbia University
Nick Juravich
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's History
New-York Historical Society

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