Democracy: Limitations and Possibilities dbq

F. National Organization for Women

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F. National Organization for Women

Primary source:
National Organization for Women, statement of purpose, 1966.
Background information: The National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in 1966 and soon became the most prominent organization promoting the causes of the women's movement. [ . . . ]

Despite all the talk about the status of American women in recent years, the actual position of women in the United States has declined, and is declining, to an alarming degree throughout the 1950's and 60's. Although 46.4% of all American women between the ages of 18 and 65 now work outside the home, the overwhelming majority—75%—are in routine clerical, sales, or factory jobs, or they are household workers, cleaning women, hospital attendants. About two-thirds of Negro women workers are in the lowest paid service occupations. Working women are becoming increasingly—not less—concentrated on the bottom of the job ladder. As a consequence full-time women workers today earn on the average only 60% of what men earn, and that wage gap has been increasing over the past twenty-five years in every major industry group....

Further, with higher education increasingly essential in today's society, too few women are entering and finishing college or going on to graduate or professional school....

In all the professions considered of importance to society, and in the executive ranks of industry and government, women are losing ground. Where they are present it is only a token handful.... [ . . . ]

. . . There is no civil rights movement to speak for women, as there has been for Negroes and other victims of discrimination. The National Organization for Women must therefore begin to speak. [ . . . ]
National Organization for Women, "Statement of Purpose" (1966), in America through the Eyes of Its People: Primary Sources in American History, ed. Bruce Borland, 2d ed. (New York: Longman, 1997), 336–37, reproduced at

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