Why Many Married Women Were Banned From Working During the Great Depression

In 1930, the United States needed a miracle. Months before, the stock market had crashed, and the economy had begun to tank with it. As the Great Depression pummeled millions of American workers, Frances Perkins, New York state’s Commissioner of Labor, warned that New York faced a particular threat from a surprising group: Married women with jobs.

“The woman ‘pin-money worker’ who competes with the necessity worker is a menace to society, a selfish, shortsighted creature, who ought to be ashamed of herself,” Perkins said. “Until we have every woman in this community earning a living wage…I am not willing to encourage those who are under no economic necessities to compete with their charm and education, their superior advantages, against the working girl who has only her two hands.”