This article is intended to expand current understandings of the commercial revolution of the medieval European economy by considering women's work as spinners of yarn and thread in the development of the medieval textile industry. Women's work in the central Middle Ages changed with the introduction of water-powered mills for grinding grain into flour for bread. As such water mills were introduced, women could turn to the preparation and spinning of wool into yarn. These female spinners or spinsters were both villagers and village-girls who had migrated to towns. Even with the introduction of the spinning wheel, spinning remained the great bottleneck in medieval textile production, because warp threads continued to be spun by hand. Thus, women's work in spinning wool and other fibers was central to the expansion of medieval European textile production.
Jane Colden (1724–1760) was among the first women anywhere to master formal Linnaean botany, and she did so not in a European center of learning but on a farm in the Hudson Valley of New York. Colden became a skilled, talented botanist, despite the unusualness of this activity for a woman in this period. She was able to develop these skills because she could take advantage of several intersecting circumstances. She first engaged with botany at the behest of her father, who had himself practiced botany and had found it a route to prestige and sociability. Her skill, however, soon surpassed his and brought her the admiration and respect of skilled botanists elsewhere in the Atlantic world, where the demand for exotic flora and for reliable information about plants was rising. As important as her talents as a botanist were to her participation in networks of botanists, so too was her ability to negotiate successfully a borderland where the decorum expected of a botanist overlapped with that expected of a woman. Jane Colden's story illustrates the importance of both women's scientific work and colonial participation to the eventual centrality of formal science in Western culture.
Medicine and law have traditionally been viewed as elite masculine fields, and they therefore offer a useful prism to evaluate feminization. This article examines the rise of women doctors and lawyers in Third Republic France (1870–1940): women's struggle for access, their growth and progress as medical and legal practitioners, and the resentment they encountered anew in the 1930s. Although antifeminism was ingrained in the professional ethos of medicine and law, women were only one social category targeted by discrimination, especially during the interwar period. Foreigners, naturalized citizens, the lower social classes, and the elderly also served as scapegoats for such perceived problems in the professions as overcrowding and declining standards. Economic protectionism and fears of changing professional identity constituted key motivations behind antiwomen sentiment. Women's success is due largely to the republican state, to prowomen currents in the professions, and to women's emergent self-promotion.
Using government records and women's testimonies archived in private institutions, this article studies brothel keeping as business and brothel keepers as business owners and managers. In nineteenth-century Hong Kong, a military outpost of the British Empire, a commercial center attracting men of all classes and all nationalities, and yet, a stronghold of Chinese patriarchal practices, prostitution and brothel keeping flourished. The brothel keeper, always a woman, was offered an unprecedented opportunity to develop personal and entrepreneurial skills. In the process she expanded her life aspirations and played new roles in society and at home.
This article explores the interconnected personal and professional lives of all seventeen graduates of the Latter-day Saints Nurses Training School class of 1919 over almost six decades of their lives. It places the experiences of these women at the nexus of ideas about women, work, family, and religion, and considers work that took place not just within hospitals and health care agencies but also within families, and families' particular patterns of wage work and unremunerated housework, care work, and that on farms or small businesses. These graduates actually moved rather easily and intermittently back and forth between domestic and market economies; their paid nursing work was integrated into, rather than separate from, their work as wives and mothers. Their life stories show how these women actively embraced the gendered meaning of nursing for how it privileged both their professional work and their commitment to Mormon traditions.
Scholars cannot fully explicate the meaning of the female form in U.S. imperial discourse without a more finely honed understanding of women's labor history. In 1898 popular rhetoric and representation fashioned a relationship between three very different border crossings: the transnational migration of a German model of nursing, which thrived in the ethnic neighborhoods of urban North America; the transplantation of one such institution from New York to Havana as part of the American Red Cross's relief program; and U.S. military intervention into the Cuban War of Independence. Politicians and the press constructed the Red Cross sister as a symbol of national purpose by appropriating a strategy that women perfected in the provision of neighborhood nursing charity, an affirmation of respectability that denied the economic nature of their work. Evocations of the Red Cross sister as the antithesis of imperial avarice expressed the period's pervasive anxiety over female wage earning.
The first organized resistance to sexual harassment grew out of the women's movement, emerging at the intersection of activism against employment discrimination and feminist opposition to violence against women. The issue of sexual harassment brought together women's workplace concerns with resistance to male sexual aggression. In the mid-1970s two organizations formed to focus primarily on sexual harassment—Working Women United in Ithaca, New York, and the Alliance Against Sexual Coercion in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Based on archival materials and interviews, this article documents the early movement against sexual harassment, focusing particularly on the feminist activists who founded these organizations—who they were and how they shaped the movement against sexual harassment. These women made significant contributions to the public understanding of sexual harassment and the development of legal prohibitions against it.