19th Century Canada: Women Breaking Gender-Based Roles

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1329 Words
Date:  2023-03-13

The traditional role of females confers upon a woman's responsibility of nurturing children, doing house duties, and, takes care of their husband. The traditional roles of women in society affected the way a female is perceived in society and her place of work. In the 19th century Canada, women were devoted and observed sternly their gender-based roles; however, this was not the case after the occurrence of the Great Depression as a majority of women forced their way into the labor market. These women ventured into the nursing profession and disdaining their household duties, as much as their move was disregarded and viewed and an act of abandoning their motherly duties, the female Canada nurses managed to establish a balance between work and home duties. However, on the eve of the Civil War, they were forced to fully abandon their home duties to meet shortages in the labor market. Proofing women's ability to perform their home-based roles and at the same time gain financial independence.

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At the end of the 19th century, a professional career in women created a paradox. A majority, especially men viewed that women were meant to stay at home to care for their family as they have no ability to multitask and they have enough energy to assume roles in the labor market. Due to such mentality, women saw public service-related jobs as best pursuits that can enable them to gain financial independence and perform their domestic roles. One of the jobs that suited these women was nursing. In the 1960s, the nursing profession was considered to a job for middle-class persons, but typically gendered based as it was defined by female virtue, poor wage, and, sacrifice, and obedience to male doctors. For instance, McPherson and Hicks (1977) utilize an image to illustrate how nursing was undermined. In chapter five of her book under the title The Case of the Kissing Nurse," a 1958 Canadian Nurse article shows a picture of an alluring nurse with two males in bed smiling with contentment. the heading above the picture reads, "The best medicine a man ever had," leaving a reader to imagining what nursing job the nurse had just accomplished.'' (McPherson & Hicks, 1997) The experience is one humor as well as grief, it is an occurrence of a woman who confronted insults to ensure she retains her role to care for her patients rather than sticking inside her glass ceiling effect.. Such cases illustrate challenges females nurses faced in the battle to fight for their financial independency in the society that believed women were meant to stay at home. McPherson and Hicks (1997) claim that the majority of Canadian Women would prefer to stay home in peace than mocked.

Similarly, the nursing sisters encountered the effect of stereotype in the course of their operation, they were offered limited autonomy and they were under strict supervision physician board. Several of the Catholic nursing sisters who made significant accomplishments also faced this perception. Yet, the Catholic nursing sisters established a broad linkage of nurse-run hospitals starting in 1637- 230 years before confederation - when the three Augustan nuns created Hotel-Dieu De Quebec (Toman, 2011). Limited autonomy prevented the majority of nurses to assume what was named as masculine responsibilities roles since they were expected to under men. Nonetheless, nursing sisters were directed by a distinct code of services and their religious personality offered them a chance to assume leadership positions while at the same time pursuing their traditional roles. However, as time was passing by the nursing profession was as adapted considered as an occupation for single women.

The situation changed during WWI, women were forced to neglect partially their motherly role and join the labor force to replace men who had gone to fight. The efforts of women started to be appreciated during the American Civil war and the Crimean War; nurses who were women were effective in delivering treatment of those who suffer injuries and infection. First nurses were needs to home duties such as supplying food, preparing medicine and making bandages, their ability to run home smoothly and to serve the country during the hardship time proved their ability to meet both their motherly duties and work responsibilities.

Women joining the labor market in massive numbers during wartime can be summed up as a reality of courageous women who abandoned their society's anticipations though still performed their roles as mothers as they try to create a balance between the two roles. In the entire economic and political disruption of the inter-war years, the ties of gender connected the gulf emerging between nursing leaders and the profession's rank- and- file, and supported leaders' effort to maintain professional unity (McPherson & Hicks, 1997). Equally, the sufferings and hardships women went through unified them during the early twentieth-century fights for registration legislation

Women wanted to be viewed seriously. Women like Florence Nightingale, who considered the situation a 'total war,' demanded supports from all Canadians. It was not until in the fifth generation when Canadian nurses establish a new vehicle for demanding enhanced wages and working conditions. In each province, unions assumed accountability for negotiating contracts licensing and education. Their effort was backed up with a liberal second-wave feminist movement, which is accredited with prompting the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (RCSW). The Movement examined the low ranking of women both in the workplace and at home. This lead to a drastic change in the health care system in Canada by addressing challenged that had plagued the health system in Canada in the 1920s and 1930s. These leading dialogue molded nurses, a reconceptualization of nurses' reactions to broader social trends support new comprehensions of how nurses and women used to present and new sources of influence to advance, influence, and ordain more conditions that are suitable. Hence, enabled them to enjoy a more significant share in the gains of economic citizenship, while at the same time allowing them to attain their roles as mothers and wives.

The history of the nursing profession in Canada makes the modern nurse appreciate of legacy donated to them by the nursing profession that has been in the frontline of innovation of healthcare from the start of Canada history, in a society controlled by man and despise women's efforts to join the labor market. Nursing leaders in 19th century managed to establish a highly ethical and capable profession with outstanding principles and e reputation in the wider society, which must be the desire of other professions (Toman, 2011).

Canada society during the 1920s tried its best to confine women to their conventional roles, however, struggle and preserve hardships to gain their economic and social rights. From the 1920s, Canada confronted the Great Depression, which was because of economic inability, which was followed by occurrence of Second World War; these conditions presented an ideal opportunity for women to attain their economic and political freedom. Therefore, most of them took advantage of the situation and joined the public services associated jobs, beating their unreasonable impediment impact.

Married and both single women battled to enter callings such as nursing professions, the nursing profession was used as a tool to accomplish these women's' ambition and in return, the nursing profession gained its financial growth and thriving, henceforth it moved from unwaged work to the paid professionals. These struggle and achievements even more, appreciating when considered the setting of social restriction experienced female nurses as they not just repulsed and complied with expectations that their motherhood job was as wives and mothers. Female nurses discussed this confounding political region by laying out their obligations regarding its valuable need and gendered fittingness as women's paid occupation.


McPherson, K. M., & Hicks, B. (1997). Bedside matters: the transformation of Canadian nursing, 1900-1990. Manitoba History, (34), 30. Retrieved from: https://search.proquest.com/openview/bd9bfea572d60badb07412d5c54c4e86/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=32383

Toman, C. (2011). Myra Rutherdale (ed.), Caregiving on the Periphery: Historical Perspectives on Nursing and Midwifery in Canada. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkr057

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19th Century Canada: Women Breaking Gender-Based Roles. (2023, Mar 13). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/19th-century-canada-women-breaking-gender-based-roles

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