Gender equality timeline

In 1895 women in Hungary were granted the right to attend university and by 1904 Hungarian feminists were fighting for their right to vote, and after the middle class revolution in 1918 Hungarian women won the right to vote in 1920. The timeline for women’s rights in the U.S. was on track with Hungary and women also gained the vote in the U.S. in 1920. According to Paletschek (2004) social phenomena in the U.S. slowly trickled overseas and saturated Hungarian culture and this hypothesis is supported by the by the concurrence of events of the woman suffrage timeline in both countries (Woman, 2015).

Domestic labor as a necessity decreases

Between 1910 and 1920 the explosion of new domestic technology caused the number of persons employed in domestic occupations in the U.S. to drop by nearly half a million people, while the number of households counted in the U.S. census increased by almost four million. During a twenty year period after the turn of the twentieth century the number of persons employed in domestic occupations decreased by approximately forty percent and women who chose to have a family found themselves simultaneously liberated from old tasks and burdened by new ones. Liberated from the menial time-consuming tasks of ironing and washing laundry, yet burdened by chores that their help may have done for them, such as child care, as well as new and unprecedented standards of household cleanliness (Cowan, 1976).

Universities approach gender equality

By 1930 only fifteen percent of universities in the U.S. were still exclusively for men, and the woman suffrage movement coupled with the household appliance revolution allowed for more women to enter the workforce and pursue careers in scientific research and academia. Curiously, in the twenty year period before 1930 the number of universities allowing only men decreased by twelve percent, but in the twenty-seven years after 1930 there was only a two percent decrease. This indicates that there may have been a distinct loss of interest in reforming higher education after the electrification of domestic tools, which infers that Cowan Paradox holds true; women were imprisoned by the very technology designed to liberate them (Cowan, 1976) (Ramey, 2009) (Woman, 2015).

Social and economic trends affect Dr. Telkes’ life

Dr. Telkes’ life was in no uncertain terms impacted by all of the aforementioned economic and social phenomena. Dr. Telkes belonged to a generation of firsts; first women to vote, first women to attend university in Hungary, and the first women to experience modern domestic technology, electrical appliances, and the mass availability of industrially produced goods and indoor plumbing. Dr. Telkes’ successful career was undoubtedly facilitated by the increased acceptance of women living educated lives outside of the role of homemaker.



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