Thanks to the achievements of women’s suffrage and various civil rights movements, most people around the world today enjoy the same freedoms regardless of their gender.
But things weren’t always this way. When could women vote, open a bank account or get credit cards? As it happens, things we find so ordinary today were actually forbidden for women as early back as the 1950s and 60s! So let’s see how things have changed.
#1. Open a bank account
Before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 was passed, women were not allowed to open bank accounts and get credit cards without the permission of their husband or a male relative.
#2. Serve jury duty
Women were not allowed to sit in the jury box until it was made legal in 1968.
#3. Practice law
Even if they went to Law School and passed every single test, they could still be denied the right to plead a case.
#4. Be called “equal”
Before 1981, all wives were legally subordinate to their husbands.
#5. Take birth control pills
Contraceptives were banned, until the 60s and the widely-available contraceptive pill sparked the summer of luurrve.
#6. Go on maternity leave
Women who became pregnant usually lost their jobs, until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was approved.
#7. Breastfeed in public
Public areas prohibited mothers from breastfeeding, and no, there weren’t any Breastfeeding Stations or Rooms.
#8. Attend an Ivy League university
Women applicants were not allowed into Harvard until 1977, although Yale and Princeton admitted their first female students in 1969.
#9. Attend a military academy
There was no such thing as female students at West Point Military Academy until 1976.
#10. Serve in combat
It was only in 2013 that women were allowed on the front lines for the first time, as it was believed that “vulnerable” female soldiers on the front line were a risk to other infantry.
#11. Run the Boston Marathon
This was an all-male event until 1972.
#12. Become an astronaut
NASA didn’t allow women to become Astronauts, until Sally Ride broke the mold in 1978.
#13. Vote in elections
Women did not have the right to vote in the USA until August 1920, when the 19th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
In most countries, women typically got the right within the following decades after.
#14. Join the military
In 1948, three years after the end of World War 2, President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law, officially allowing women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the Armed Forces.
#15. Drive motor vehicles
In the USA, there was never a law preventing women from driving. The same is true for all countries, with the exception of Saudi Arabia. Until June 2018, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women were banned from driving.