Essay on Women Contributions in Industrial Revolution

Published: 2022/01/11
Number of words: 2536


Industrial revolution is perhaps the most important aspect for the economic and the society of Britain. Industrial revolution was the period where manufacturing processes mechanization started. This paper lays emphasis on Industrial revolution in Britain during the periods 1760-1840. The paper considers the importance of women in Industrial revolution at different perspectives.


Industrial revolution in the United Kingdom began in the years 1760-1840. This period marked a new manufacturing process where people transits from hand mode of production into the use of machines. Industrial revolution has had significance on the world we live in today. Researchers conclude that the industrial revolution began in Britain, spread to Europe then eventually reached the United States of America. The spectacle marks a turning point for every human being in the world today (Allen 12). Every person in today’s world can ascertain to having used manufactured goods in daily life. Industrial revolution enabled humanity to produce goods and process materials in large quantities.

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Historians agree that the industrial revolution seem to be a crucial event for humanity since the domestication of plants and animals. The revolution began in steps and one-step led to another to this very moment. The first form of revolution progressed into the second stage, where new forms of technology, use of railways and steam engines moved goods and people. The lives of many citizens in Britain during this period underwent many transformations. People began to work outside their home, and at the same time, the work became disciplines and regiment. It became a norm in the Textile industries of the time, which common laborers could work as well as children in place of skilled tradesmen (Allen 12-24). Supervisors closely supervised this type of work. Industrial revolution in the country resulted in massive movement of people from the rural areas to cities. Most of those who moved to cities moved for better lifestyles, and work in those factories.

This revolution also led to changes in laws on land ownership. People were now able to own land in huge quantities. These motivated landowners to improve on their productivity. New cultivation techniques, new crops introduced, and these perhaps may have led to many peasants moving to cities. Another important factor to economic growth was the acceptance of inventions in the revolution. At the period of Industrial revolutions, inventors were able to gain from their works thus there was an improvement in labor productivity (Allen 12-24). Women and children however, worked in these factories. The involvement of women and children in manual labor meant that the role of women would change forever. With mechanized production, massive amounts of goods were produced as it would not be possible with the use of manual labor.

Contribution of women

During the period of Industrial revolution, it was common for children to learn a trade from their fathers then set up their own business. However, with the Industrial revolution, children were paid menial wages to be workers in mines and textile companies. Contracting children, as well as women for these jobs was a dangerous affair that became a norm. Women and children worked in deplorable conditions, for menial wages and for long hours.

Roles of women in the industrial revolution

The roles of women in the industrial revolution in England; have significance to today’s industrialization. Women fueled with the need to make and economic impact on their lives, moved to cities to find work during the age of the Industrial revolution. Most of these women found work in domestic service, piece workshops and in textile factories. It is also true that they worked at coal factories. Women found it necessary to look for worked since the revolution had provisions for independent wages (Wallach, and Louise 24-32). These movements of women to various destinations provided them with an opportunity to improve their standards of life as that of their families.

Although one can say that industrial revolution uplifted women’s status on the society, there are some negative implications to the employment of women and children in factories during the era. Women and their families were suffering due to the dangerous and unsanitary conditions on their places of workwomen literacy levels came down since they had no time to study. Another problem that women faced was the double burden of doing domestic chores while doing work at the factories. Moreover, women received low wages and did not have chances of promotion like their male counterparts. Women working in far places unsupervised by family members also affected the society’s view on the fate of women (Williamson 41-46). Further, with the growing need of having wages for families’ sustenance, families became dependent of women’s wages making them vulnerable to abuse by factories.

Women dominated in many factories. Many factories owners preferred employing women as their workforce because of their attitude and their ability to produce. Women worked more productively and quicker, but their pay was half that men earned. With stress, poor pay and unsanitary working conditions in factories women continued to work for long hours without much complaint. Women had already doing before the Industrial revolution. It is only that in this instance that they worked outside their home (Allen 901-927). The surge of women in these factories however, did have little influence on the pattern of women’s work.

Most of those women workers provided work services in the domestic industry. Majority of those women, were single and in some instances, married women performed such tasks. However, married women took care of their home while at the same time providing services at the factories. Industrial revolution on the other hand gave women an opportunity to earn their own pay. These provided a sense of independence to women who at times gave their potion of earnings to their families.

Pre- Industrial revolution Women, Children and Men worked at a team in cottages. Businesses operated from homes, and this meant that there was no clear distinction between private and public life. However, with the start of the industrial revolution, these roles changed. Women, women and children now worked in factories. They worked together doing exhaustive activities, for long periods and worked on dangerous environments. Long working hours meant that there was little time for family interactions. These led to rising of awareness on the working conditions of women and children (Williamson 41-46). These eventually led to the government developing restrictions and legislations.

These move by the government decreased working hours for women and children required to attend schools. These meant that someone had to care for these children. These and combination of other factors such as poor pay saw a number of women leave work to their home to perform the role of a child caring and home maker. Women’s work constituted domestic chores and caring for children. With these and other factors, women were unable to receive higher education (Crafts 18). A minority of women were engaged in commerce while a majority of them worked in textile and domestic services industries.

Women Entrepreneurs’ rise

Industrial revolution perhaps had an effect on the position of women in the society. Women were now able to earn their pay and get financially independent. Women entrepreneurs rise with the industrial revolution perhaps reconfirm this independence. People during the industrial revolution period had their living standards improved. With various wage categories, the country developed individuals of various classes. Class was now a point of reference. These led to the development of the low and high classes. The industrial revolution made women independent to the point they owned businesses. Prior to the industrial revolution, women worked in their homes where their husbands owned land and control of the business.

With the industrial revolution, women had the right to own property as well as businesses. Women were now able to do work outside their homes and own business premise. The rise of women entrepreneurs was also because of change in culture and laws regarding ownership of property and businesses. A wage earner at the time was independent enough to own businesses. It was during this period that hard work became the essential to this goal (Vries 249-270). These meant that hardworking women had the opportunity to purchase land and venture in a variety of business in the nation.

Women in the country owned a variety of businesses. It was common for men to get employment from female entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs ventured in almost every sector they owned agricultural businesses as well as manufacturing. The business activities in these towns had to meet demand of the growing populations. The categories of these businesses include small, sub- contracting and middle-sized companies. Most of the businesses during the Industrial revolution period included button makers, jewelers, platters and other fields. Many of these businesses were under the ownership of women. There were two categories of women in towns during the Industrial revolution era. Some of these women worked for masters while a fraction worked on private investments.

With the progress of the industrial revolution, people rate of consumption changed drastically. With the excess funds individuals consumption changed that they started consuming products conspicuously. This advance in living standards made women entrepreneurs venture into the fashion industry. Women ventured into the buckle trade, which further transformed in terms of decorations (Burnette 15). Women entrepreneurs started these businesses in their home location and with an increase in demand moved into towns employing workers. Other businesses that women ventured in bottom making, pin making, brass fixtures and fittings as well as plated goods and office assay. Women entrepreneurs got their funding from banks and other institutions. Some of these entrepreneurs financed their business from personal savings.

The Middle class

The industrial revolution had a drastic change on the lifestyle of people of Britain as it is now. The event led to the development of classes. There was the development of the lower, top and middle classes of individuals. Depending on their classes, women had a role in society. Industrial revolution benefited the middle and the upper classes. These classes of individuals at the time had success as well as a wealth. Most of the goods at the period were affordable to almost all classes even to the point of reducing prices for all to enjoy. The middle class perhaps is the, most important aspect of the Industrial revolution. The middle class consisted of professionals and business people. Women of these classes had their own businesses while minorities of them were professionals (Allen 901-927). As the Industrial Revolution grew stronger, they also became wealthier and stronger.

With these and other factors, populations grew, and there was the need to have social amenities. Therefore, universities, schools and libraries were setup to meet the needs of the growing populations. The middle and the upper classes had better housing, security and food. The group had fewer diseases and had a minimum difficulty to living. In contrast with the upper class, a majority of middle class citizens were workers. These classes of individuals were not well off while majorities of them were replaced with machines in factories (Fine and Leopold 151-179). Nevertheless, the advantage of being in the middle class meant that an individual had the opportunity of get employment in other factories.

Women landowners

Before the industrial revolution, land ownership was concentrated on a few individuals. These individuals controlled a vast area of land that was viable for agriculture and industry development. With the Industrial revolution, fundamental changes were essential in the textile, agriculture, transportation and other economic policies. The period meant the end of doing things using old strategies. This is true since women had the right of owning property after the revolution. During the period, reform changes made women own agricultural land (Komlos 10-14). Before the industrial revolution, land was used for subsistence but with the development of industries, agricultural land became a source of material for industrial processes. Women were now able to conduct farming activities easier with the help of farm implements crafted in factories.

Women also owned land where they produced raw materials for the textile industry. Since textiles was a home base product before the period, women entrepreneurs with their expertise in purchased land for producing textile raw materials. Textile was entirely the business of women since they were experts in making woolen items. The Industrial revolution also had a change on the policy and laws concerning land ownership. Women after the enforcement of these reforms had the right to own property without the approval of their husbands. Women could purchase land at almost any location provided they were citizens of the country.

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Women played a role in Industrial revolution. Their roles span from offering family support to offering services in various factories. During the period women and children served in factories. The Industrial revolution made it possible for a household to have two wage earners. The man and the woman provided for family even though women had an additional responsibility of offering care to children, as well as do factory work. The position of a woman in the society before the industrial revolution was to take care of the household as well as the children (Wallach and Louise 24-32). Women did not provide wages for the family. With the Industrial revolution, one can see that women obtained their freedom. This freedom relates to their ability to earn their wage.

Women became part of the workforce in the textile industry, provided services in the domestic and various manufacturing industries. The Industrial revolution on the other hand, offered women a chance to own property. Land reforms meant that women had a chance of owning and managing businesses. Women also got the right of being property owners, which elevated their position in the society (Fraser 16). The Industrial revolution takes credit of defining the position of women in the society and their elevation to almost equal state with men.

Works Cited

Allen, Robert C. The British industrial revolution in global perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Scott, Joan Wallach, and Louise A. Tilly. Women’s work and the family in nineteenth-century Europe. Cambridge University Press, 1975.

Komlos, John. “The industrial revolution as the escape from the Malthusian trap.” (2003).

Allen, Robert C. ” The Spinning Jenny: in Britain, France, and India The Industrial Revolution in Miniature.” The Journal of Economic History 69.04 (2009): 901-927.

Burnette, Joyce. Gender, work and wages in industrial revolution Britain. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Williamson, Jeffrey G. Coping with city growth during the British industrial revolution. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

De Vries, Jan. “The industrial revolution and the industrious revolution.” Journal of economic history 54.2 (1994): 249-70.

Fine, Ben, and Ellen Leopold. “Consumerism and the industrial revolution∗.” Social History 15.2 (1990): 151-179.

Crafts, Nicholas FR. British economic growth during the industrial revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

Fraser, Derek. The evolution of the British welfare state: a history of social policy since the Industrial Revolution. London: Macmillan, 1973.

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