Explain the changing status of women in the U.S. from post WW2 to the present.
Prior to the mid-20th century, women were commonly treated as though they were an extension of or inferior to men. This message was directly contradicted during WWII when women were required to step in to perform the jobs of men who were drafted or enlisted to fight in the war. Although many had to give up these jobs when men began returning home after the war, their success in these positions was a turning point in the movement for equality.
Beginning in the late 1950s, many women began to question the roles into which they had been cast in American culture. While some women were and are happy to be wives, mothers, or homemakers, many others started to push for more economic, social, and political opportunities. This was inspired in part by the growing feminist movement that flourished in the 1960s and 70s.
During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, women and other minority groups undertook massive campaigns for equal rights, achieving varying levels of success. The increasing role of women in the workplace (reinforced by independent women on television, films, magazines, and so on) normalized the once uncommon or objectionable idea of increased opportunity and equality for women. This increased presence has heavily influenced younger generations' opinions, making more in favor of gender equality.
Although women have come a long way in achieving better treatment, equality, and autonomy, the issue remains a contentious one in the present day. Women are commonly paid less than men, treated differently in corporate environments, and are routinely victimized and harassed, suggesting that there is still a ways to go before achieving true equality.