Essay Sample: Women in Corporations and Business

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Harvey Mudd College
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One of the issues that the magazine talks about in one of its articles is the participation of women in organizational leadership. The article echoes the findings of several research studies, which indicate that women are the majority shareholders in most companies. The author hence questions the reasons behind womens shyness in taking part in the directorship of the companies that they clearly own, and have authority over, simply through the ownership of a majority of votes. The writer goes on to challenge women to not only concentrate on pursuing politics and house upkeep but to also engage in unexplored areas such as finance and business. He or she reasons that if they are trained, they perform excellently in business, as they already did in politics and civil governship. He or she concludes by telling women that there exists no law that stands in the way of their impending takeover of institutions such as banks (Lady Magazine, 1936).

Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the role of women in the society was majorly dictated by the existing cultural notions that expected them to function in domestic roles such as nurturing households, training their daughters to perpetuate the traditions of motherhood and serve their husbands and sons as they catered for the more important aspects of society such as politics and business. In the public arena, the notion of domesticity shaped the perceptions about the kinds of jobs that women could take, and the options included secretarial tasks, nursing, and catering. Existing laws did not allow them to own property, which was a huge deterrent to progress. However, women entrepreneurship began to thrive, especially in Britain, based on the themes of domesticity, nurturing and mothering. Businesses in the fields of hospitality and catering, manufacture and sale of clothing, nursing, social work, and librarianship began to thrive and were dominated by women. By 1920, women had a huge participation in industries and contributed to the growth of companies such as Woolworths, Standard Oil in New Jersey which dealt with petroleum and major industries in the manufacture of foods and agricultural produce. Towards the end of the second world war in 1945, a revolutionary change in the status of women had begun. They now occupied more managerial positions and by the late 1980s, women-owned half of American firms and businesses. The periodical was, therefore, a message of empowerment to all women who doubted their abilities at that time and were not comfortable in the positions that they had to take under the guise of societal expectations. It can also be interpreted as a call for all mothers to defy the cult of domesticity and mentor their daughters and granddaughters to push beyond the existing gender discriminations and become a great unoppressed generation (Smithsonian Institute, 2002).

Dignity among girls

The magazine also contains a poem, addressed to young girls and their mothers, to praise the value and importance of remaining decent and modest in their choice of clothing. The poet states that beautiful and bold butterflies have to put up a modest look, even though the temptation is to wear very high hosieries and tops that expose their waists. This is hence a message to mothers to take note of the dressing choices of their daughters, probably to preserve their innocence for things such as marriage in future (Lady Magazine, 1936).

Mintz (2004) in his book Hucks Raft, speaks of the challenges that parents had to face while raising children who were keen on following their own paths towards development and self-expression. The childhood of most American kids was tumultuous, as they constantly had to battle against the rules set by their parents, as well as issues such as peer pressure that highly compelled them to go against their parents tide. In the mid 20th century, fashion was evolving at a rapid pace. The items that were trending included crop tops, tight jeans, hosieries and high heels, and the runway was buzzing with them in the same intensity as the streets of the United States. At this time, the second world war had ended and the industrial revolution had led to rapid growths in the economy, an advancement in medicine such that diseases did not lead to epidemics as before among the pediatric population, and the media was beginning to grow and flourish. As such, teenagers and young adults had less to worry about and had an easy access to income and information about issues such as fashion. As a result, they easily fell into imitating the trends on the runway, a position that parents had a hard time combating. The influence of mass media and the consumer culture had taken its toll. A pursuit and embrace of freedom and risks was the consequence of self-discovery and growth at the time. The author of the article, therefore, aims to encourage parents to maintain a position of authority over their daughters. Young girls are also discouraged from over-exposing their bodies and instead embracing modesty and a sense of self-respect by dressing appropriately.

Child labour

An illustration in one of the pages of the magazine showcases an image of a tax collector receiving a suitcase of taxes from a child. In the same picture, an old fellow, probably the childs employer, is seen walking away from the scene, without a care. The artist has also dressed the child in an expensive suit and hat, and the older fellow in rags. While the childs emotions show an air of confidence and satisfaction, the old mans emotions seem frayed and dejected (Lady Magazine, 1936).

Mintzs book (2004) highlights the diversities that existed in American families, influenced by race, ethnicities, and geography, and how they affected the upbringing of children. Children born to black families, poor backgrounds and in regions where the demand for agricultural or industrial labor was high were mandated by the environment around them to work, either as slaves or for income to boost their families economic status. The author also highlights other plights other than forced labor that children faced including being apprenticed into business, recruitment as soldiers of war, being used as cabin boys, girls being recruited into prostitution and operatives in textile industries among other forms of oppression and abuse of their rights. Mintz gives a story about a colonial boy aged 14 years who was rescued by an Indian family, while his arms and legs were tied up. He illustrates this to show the role that Indian workers were playing to rescue enslaved children from the tortures they underwent while in captivity. They were expected to hunt, farm, and generally, provide food to all the other workers in a given farm. He also cites the disruptions in demographics, mounting inflation rates and rapid population growth especially in the pediatric population as an incentive for rural children to desert their impoverished homes in favour of finding employment in order to sustain themselves, which eventually led to their enrollment as soldiers in the war, as sex workers and other risky and demeaning forms of labour. The referred picture was therefore meant to serve as an acknowledgment of the existence of child labor and the fact that economies were being run by the services offered by children. The role of parents in such a scenario was to protect their children from poverty and the subsequent forms of exploitation.

Loss of innocence among children

The other expressed issue is also through an illustration of a conversation between a mother and his son. In the picture, the mother is scolding his son for spending the money that was purposed for rent on a date with a girlfriend. It portrays disappointment by the mother because of the level of irresponsibility and lack of care or concern about more important things that are being demonstrated by his son. She also seems disapproving of the choice of girlfriend by her son, in the way she mentions the girl with an air of contempt and disgust. She also reveals that this is not a one-time occurrence and that her son has previously been stealing money from her in the previous months (Lady Magazine, 1936).

In the mid-twentieth century when childhood and development were finally becoming smoother for American kids, and the previous problems of neglect, malnutrition and child labor had been done away with, children and young adults had other challenges to deal with. As Mintz (2004) states, there was no time when childhood was easy in America. This time, blooming kids faced a lot of opposition from their own parents and guardians, who believed that they were losing their innocence and were hence being insulated from adulthood by their caretakers. Parents were strict with money, education standards and expectations, the level of exposure to mass media, and instilling discipline among other things. He also says that parents envied the youth of their children and resented their illusion of resources and time; they also believed that children were growing too fast and felt the need to protect them, most times by being hard on them.

Curfew, punishments and other forms of disciplinary actions were very common at the time in American households. Parental engagement and care were hence replaced by emotional distance, misguided morality, beliefs in superstitions and a withdrawal from information and the media. Education was regarded by kids as either a form of punishment or an opportunity to be away from parents and in the company of peers. As a result, as soon as the young adults attained the legal age of 21 or were finally married, they felt compelled to go against all the teachings of their parents and bring up their children with all forms of freedom. This was hence a message to parents to raise their children without a lot of strictness, as theres no time they would lose their childishness and innocence unless it was time to and because the engagement of their parents was the most important part of their development.



Life Magazine. (1936, 11). Life (1883-1936), 103, 1. Retrieved from

Mintz, S. (2004). Huck's raft: A history of American childhood. Harvard University Press.

Smithsonian Institute (2002). Women in Business: A Historical Perspective. Retrieved from


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