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IB History Internal Assessment (IA)

“In the early decades of the 20th century, there appeared to be an explosive emergence of women in several fields - political, economic and social... A new persona was being shaped which was defined as the 'New Woman'... Despite this image of modernity, for most women of 1920s America, the modern goals of equality and personal autonomy were often elusive... The term [New Woman] referred to women's increased college enrollment, new athleticism, entry into professions, and even the rejection of bulky restrictive Victorian garments. The New Woman challenged middle class notions that her place was exclusively at home. She was in the process of pushing aside boundaries of the traditional sphere and entering a wider world. Industrial development was rapidly changing the nature of work and daily life in America...Women's lives had changed dramatically since the late 19th century. They had gained entry into the public sphere through political participation and expanded presence in the workplace. Older assumptions about a woman's 'proper' role were being challenged” (Maloni).

Miss Catherwood of Canada doing the high jump in the 1928 Olympic Games at Amsterdam, Holland. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
Maloni, Ruby. “Dissonance Between Norms and Behaviour: Early 20th. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 70, 2009, pp. 880–886. JSTOR, 


Consider looking into these topics:

  • 19th Amendment

  • Redefinition of motherhood and women's roles

  • Women living outside of traditional family structures

  • Increase in divorce rates

  • Women in higher education

  • Women in the workplace

  • The effects of electrification and the innovations such as irons, toasters, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, and washing machines

  • 1920s popular culture topics: changes in women's fashion, flappers,The Harlem Renaissance, Jazz, blues, the Charleston, radio

  • Indifference to social reform after the Progressive Era and successfully gaining suffrage

  • The “New Woman” or “Professional Woman” 

  • Exclusion of women of color in women’s movements of the 1920s


Women in the 1920s on JSTOR

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