The Role of Women in the 1950s

Essential Question

What roles were women expected to play during the 1950s?



  1. Have students read the excerpts from The Feminine Mystique and answer the attached Bloom Questions.
  2. Show students the first image on the first link above without the caption below it and ask them to create a caption for the photograph that reflects what they learned from the excerpts from The Feminine Mystique.
  3. Historical advertisements are rich with cultural significance. Use the three Coca-Cola ads—from 1950, 1955, and 1968—to help your students compare the ways women were portrayed in each time period. What do the illustrations or photographs alone communicate? How does the written text in each ad reinforce its message? What type of women are the ads targeting, and what values do the ads use to do so?
  4. Create an informational brochure or a collage where you describe how to be a good wife during the 1950s. In small groups, share your brochures and discuss how you think it would have felt if you were a man or woman living during this decade. Would the gender role expectations have been difficult for you? Why or why not?
  5. Find magazine and/or newspaper advertisements for household products from the 1950s, the 1970s, and today that include pictures of women. What do you notice about the changes over time? Have women “come a long way, baby?” 

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