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Inonly 5. ByWest Virginia's female participation rate had risen to Labor force participation rates measure what economists refer to as the economically active population. It is important to emphasize that "economically active" is not synonymous with "working. If a person is paid a regular wage for her work by a firm, or is self-employed but makes goods or provides services for sale in a d business, she is counted in the labor force as economically active.
Much work and many workers fall outside the strict boundaries of this measurement and as a result are not counted among the economically active. One obvious exclusion is the production of goods for workers' immediate consumption, such as subsistence farming.
Also missing are workers with a less than obvious relationship to the market, examples of which are home-based craft producers and those involved in seasonal harvest. Aside from omitting large of work, labor force participation rates fail to measure the contribution of paid or unpaid work to economic growth, development, and well-being. By examining the participation of women in West Virginia's economy, this article suggests women in the state have been doubly "hidden from history.
Gender blindness resulted from prevailing definitions of "development" as a qualitative and quantitative increase in market- related activities, like commercial farming and especially industrial manufacturing. In an undeveloped economy, such as one dominated by subsistence production and barter; most production and exchange takes place outside the market. Concomitantly, an economy is advancing towards development when the share of production and exchange mediated by market mechanisms increases, as when production and exchange involves the commodity, credit, and labor markets.
This conception of development ignores most kinds of work not immediately directed toward the market. Because the typical form of women's work, in West Virginia as elsewhere, has been unpaid household labor, women's participation in economic development has been hidden from the historical record.
Modern economic Women in Diss wv assume the domestic domain is a retreat from work and the market. Thereby, work within the household, and those performing it, consistently are excluded from estimates of the labor force and gross national product. Women have toiled as agricultural laborers on family farms, but have not been counted as farmers. Women have raised children but this work was considered their natural duty as mothers rather than as socially necessary and useful labor. Women have prepared and preserved food but, because these activities usually occurred for family consumption and not for sale on the market, they have not counted as productive labors contributing to economic development.
The second sense in which women's work in West Virginia has been hidden also stems from economic development theory's dominant orientation toward market production and exchange. Underlying the wide spectrum of theory is the assumption that household subsistence and barter are preliminary steps or transitory phases in the process of economic development.
As a result, theory casts a blind eye toward household production within capitalist economies no matter whose work is involved, women or men.
Yet in large areas of West Virginia the economy was sustained precisely by such economic activities. Most s of West Virginia's economic history are theoretically oriented toward commercial and capitalist market development.
Therefore, capitalist industry and commercial farming constitute the only "real" West Virginia economy. These industries have been undeniably important in the state's economic history. But problems arise in assuming commercial and capitalist development thoroughly displaced household and other self-organized economic practices or that these activities survive merely as folk culture relics. An emerging feminist economics is moving beyond critique of concepts that have prevented Women in Diss wv understanding of women's contribution to economic development.
Among its central tasks is redefining the concept of "economically active" to include the typically hidden, often unpaid, yet highly productive labor of women throughout history. It is crucial to incorporate West Virginia's working women into the larger feminist economics project. Path-breaking studies in women's economic history had a mission of recovering women's work from historical obscurity.
It is well-documented that women performed important economic roles both in and outside the formal labor force. In short, women have an economic history. Yet for all its scholarly abundance and analytical power, women's economic history has not undertaken further explanation of how economic development is understood. What is at stake is not merely adding women as a missing chapter to West Virginia's economic history, but taking the next step of exploring how West Virginia's economic history is transformed by fully incorporating women's work.
As historian Marjorie Griffin Cohen recently stated, "Including women in our analysis of society The focus here is on women's work within the context of three eras of West Virginia's economic history. The first historical era, extending to the s, corresponds to the pre-statehood and early statehood economy governed by agriculture. The second era extends roughly to the s and encompasses the industrial transition. The final era extends toa year which in hindsight perhaps represents West Virginia's zenith as an industrial economy.
Making the process of economic development the framework for historical analysis, rather than standard of women's work, integrates West Virginia women directly into the state's economic history Women in Diss wv its inception and illuminates how changes within the domain of women's work have been part and parcel of that larger process.
Of course, attempts to characterize West Virginia's economic history in general terms is fraught with hazards. Contained within the state's irregular boundaries are numerous subregions with diverse economic bases. If different regions within West Virginia experienced divergent paths of economic development, it follows that women did not share a unified experience. Portraying women in West Virginia's economic history takes on the added challenge of capturing internal differentiation while discerning elements of a common historical experience.
The area that eventually became West Virginia was settled for agricultural purposes by westwardly migrating families. Farming remained the center of the economy up to and immediately following the Civil War. The first census figures for the state, gathered inindicate that over 90 percent of the population resided in rural areas. Almost two-thirds of employed persons were working in agriculture. This latter figure actually understates the economic ificance of agriculture because much industry, employing almost 14 percent of the population, was related to the farm economy. Women made direct contributions to the rural farm economy.
With some notable exceptions, farming in West Virginia was organized as a household enterprise with most labor contributed by family members according to their age and sex. The prevailing sexual division of labor confined tasks like field clearing, building construction, and hunting to men. Women's work involved tasks like food preparation and preservation and making family clothing. Evidence suggests that men and women both "farmed" in the sense that cultivation tasks, like weeding, planting, and harvesting, as well as tending animals, were performed by men and women.
This very general description belies ificant differences among rural women. The actual extent and nature of women's work in the preindustrial economy very much depended upon where women lived and to what class they belonged. During the antebellum era, the ownership of domestic slaves drew perhaps the sharpest social boundary among black and white women, and between white Women in Diss wv. The census documented the presence of slaves in virtually all western Virginia counties. These eight eastern counties ed for 60 percent of the slaves in the state.
Slaves performed most of the labor in the households to which they belonged. Essentially, women slaves shouldered a double burden including work for their masters' and mistresses' households as well as work for their own families. The labor of slave women, in turn, liberated slave-owning women from household work and child care. The more common experience of rural women during the preindustrial era was to be part of a yeoman or tenant household which made its living from the land. When asked by census takers about their occupation, most rural women reported they were keeping house.
The specific range of tasks varied on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, but centered on feeding and clothing family members, housecleaning, and other maintenance tasks. Feeding the family encompassed cooking meals, but first the food had to be grown and preserved. So, too, cleaning house required making the tools and soap.
Contemporary descriptions often wax eloquent about the striking degree of self-sufficiency achieved by West Virginia households. Women's work was essential to this achievement. Philip Doddridge in his notes on West Virginia wrote, "Our clothing was all of domestic manufacture. Almost every house contained a loom, and almost every woman was a weaver. Although largely oriented toward home consumption, the products of rural women's labor found their way into the market. Country store ledgers record bartered goods, providing evidence of women's contributions in the form of butter; eggs, feathers, and occasionally items like knitted socks, woven cloth, and dried fruit.
Women also participated in gathering forest resources like ginseng and chestnuts for sale to merchants, which appear in store ledgers. Such items earned credit for households and enabled them to obtain goods they could Women in Diss wv produce themselves like coffee, sugar, and fancy cloth. While the vast majority of West Virginia women worked in their homes during the preindustrial era, a small worked for wages. These "gainfully employed" were heavily concentrated in three occupations. The largest category, domestic service, ed for fully 78 percent of the state's employed women.
Trailing far behind were seamstresses Women in Diss wv. The prevalence of these three occupations reflects how women's paid employment opportunities were direct extensions of unpaid work performed at home. Inhousehold maids, dressmakers, and teachers ranked as the three largest occupations among gainfully employed women in the United States. Although West Virginia women were not engaged in paid work to the same degree as the national average, they worked the same jobs as most women of their day, by applying domestic skills outside the home. The decades spanning the turn of the twentieth century witnessed enormous economic and social transformation in the United States as the pace of industrialization quickened, population shifted into urban areas, and immigrants arrived in unprecedented s.
West Virginia shared in these national transformations. Inwell over one-half 61 percent of the state's total labor force was engaged in agriculture, while manufacturing trailed far behind Forty years later, however manufacturing and mining each claimed nearly one-quarter of the labor force, roughly equal to the share employed in agriculture. Among the myriad facts and figures describing West Virginia's industrial transition, several characteristics are especially relevant for understanding the nature and extent of women's participation.
Not only did capitalist industrialization occur late in West Virginia, but it developed in industries that were already well-established in other areas. These production sectors were weighted toward so-called heavy industries involving resource extraction and primary processing. Industrialization was not wedded to urbanization in West Virginia.
Finally, industrialization was geographically and socially incomplete. Compared to neighboring states with similar industrial structures and long after most regional economies of the eastern United States had experienced industrialization, West Virginia's economy remained organized around commercial and noncommercial agriculture, home manufacturing, and localized exchange up to the s and even much later in certain counties.
At the same rime, industrial development suffered from an absence of private investment from within western Virginia and a lack of local markets for industrially produced goods. The Northern Panhandle counties were decided exceptions to the rule because urban commercial and industrial activities established an early and firm foothold prior to West Virginia's statehood.
As early asOhio County, with Wheeling as the county seat, contained over one-third of the state's employment The Northern Panhandle was also the early center of modern industry with its large iron and steel works. The historical timing of industrialization had profound implications for other key aspects of West Virginia's economic development that shaped women's participation in the process.
Industrialization took place in already existing production sectors that were well-established in other states before their inception in West Virginia. Before coal mining assumed prominence in West Virginia, for example, the industry was fully developed in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and Illinois. Because many of the industrial firms investing in West Virginia were founded elsewhere, professional and managerial positions tended to remain at the company's headquarters outside the state. Jobs involving technological innovation, the research and development occupations of today, were primarily concentrated in the original core industrial areas.
Industrial investment in West Virginia chiefly meant commitment to production level jobs. Key sectors of the state's industrial economy depended on the extraction and processing of natural resources. West Virginia's "industry mix" directly affected women's participation in economic development. During the first wave of industrial development in the late nineteenth century, growth took place in two kinds of industries: extractive industries, including coal mining, logging, and oil and gas drilling, and first-stage processing industries, such as sawmills, iron furnaces, and coke ovens.
During the early twentieth century, industrial development centered on modern industries like glass, steel, pottery, and railroad repair. Heavy resource industries, like coal mining, logging, and steel, require strenuous and occasionally dangerous labor historically considered "men's work. By contrast, states dominated by textile and apparel manufacture provided greater opportunities for the female work force because this labor was deemed more compatible with women's strength and skills. Much of West Virginia's economic transformation at the turn-of-the-century was linked to the bituminous coal industry in the Fairmont and southern coalfields.
Between andwhen the state's population swelled by five hundred thousand, an increase of 92 percent, ten principal coal counties ed for nearly two-thirds of the increase. Eighty percent of new residents settled in the coal region during this era. In West Virginia, new opportunities in both paid and unpaid work for women accompanied this wider set of economic changes.
With a few notable exceptions, these opportunities were clustered in occupations considered "women's work" by prevailing cultural standards. Before mentioning some of the expanded opportunities, it is important to note that throughout the dramatic transformation of the state economy, domestic service remained the largest category of paid women's work.Women in Diss wv
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