Whatever the decade, family bills have always been a source of stress. Women have added their efforts to add to the family income while caring for children and the home.
That’s still a fact today. But the opportunities available and the reasons women work at home have expanded tremendously.
Here is a look at a bit of history for women in business and an overview of current women’s business opportunities.
In the 1900s
Women have always worked from home, caring for children, keeping up the house and cooking meals. Bringing in money also has a long history.
At the turn of the century, women would add chickens to their small flock in order to sell a few extra eggs to neighbors each week. In the city, it was common to clear a bedroom into order to take in a boarder.
Picking up laundry from a customer and taking it home to wash and iron was one way to add a dollar or two to the family budget. Piecework, whether for the clothing trade or for assembly work, was grueling, but often helped pay the rent.
The Great Depression
Feeding the family and paying the rent took on new urgency during the depression in the 1930s. With a quarter of the workforce out of a job, women were willing to do anything to keep food on the table and to make sure the table had a place to stand.
This was a time when classified job ads were firmly segregated into men’s and women’s. The number available to those who worked from home was even more limited. Any type of service work like laundry, sewing and piecework continued to be the mainstay for women working at home.
Some women were able to sell products like cosmetics, books and kitchenware to neighbors, either as an independent contractor or a part time employee. A few with artistic skills were able to write and publish or paint and sculpt.
1940s and Beyond
World War II brought a huge increase in outside-the-home jobs. The iconic Rosie the Riveter handled many factory jobs that were previously the domain of men. At home jobs were still limited to selling a few products and services.
After the war, it was frowned on for women to work since it was seen as an indicator that the men in their lives couldn’t support them.
But the need for money is a constant. Options were limited, but ambitious women could sell Avon, in business over a hundred years, as well as kitchen gear like pots and pans and Tupperware, books from children’s stories to encyclopedias, and home decoration supplies like candles.
The Internet Boom
With the coming of the internet, the number of work at home jobs for women exploded. Right from the 1990s, when the internet started to take hold, freelancing in a wide range of jobs became common.
These included writing, setting up and maintain websites plus related services, graphics, telemarketing and customer service jobs. No longer were the majority of women’s work-at-home choices limited to selling.
The easier communication became, the easier it was for more standard jobs to be farmed out to people working from home. Women didn’t have to commute to the office, they could do their work at home, a boon for programmers, consultants and researchers.
A quick glance of possibilities for women entrepreneurs includes:
If you are a woman today, the sky is the limit. The days of selling a few extra eggs or doing piecework by sewing shirts is long gone. Now you can choose a business model and product that matches your interests and talents.