Women in Advertising


"A Revolutionary New Vacuum Cleaner"

The stereotype of the typical American housewife was a “popular mythology” in the 1950s but the reality was very different. These advertisements reflected how advertisers believed the nation was, or how they thought it should be. In reality, women comprised a third of the nation’s workforce by 1957, proving most women were not solely housewives, either from a desire to do more or out of necessity for the income (Young 47). Women’s overall participation in the labor force actually rose in the 1950s, from 34 percent in 1950 to 38 percent in 1960 (Crispell, 42). This is also true for married women and women with children, so the myth that women stopped working and become solely housewives when they got married also proves false according to statistics from the 1950s. 25 percent of women continued working after marriage and by 1960, 35 percent of mothers with young school-aged children had paying jobs (Crispell, 42).

Despite this, the advertisements of the 1950s tended to direct all products associated with domestic chores to women, creating a way for society to reinforce its gender normative behavior through advertisements (Young 48). As previously mentioned, any ads aimed at making tasks easier or more efficient were automatically geared towards women as well. One example is General Electric’s Roll-Easy vacuum cleaner. Both a domestic cleaning product and advertised as easier to use and more efficient, it is a prime example of an advertisement marketed solely to a female audience. As expected, the image in the advertisement shows a pretty housewife with her new efficient vacuum cleaner. 

Advertising in the 1950s
Women in Advertising