The Industrial Revolution, which started in England in the 1700s, had an significant impact on both the environment and society. While the impacts of industrialization on the environment were immediate, the effects of such impacts could not be seen until generations later.
Industrialization is the employment of factories and machinery for mass production. Mass production leads to the expedited depletion of natural resources, which permanently alters and endangers the environment. Deforestation is one effect of the mass production of paper goods and building materials. Deforestation leads to the endangerment of wildlife as well as to major climate changes. Trees help block damages to the environment that can be created by wind, rain, and other weather conditions. Most importantly, trees emit oxygen needed to purify the air. As factory production grew and the number of trees were depleted, air pollution increased as a result of factory emissions, and the increased emission of CO2 is recognized as the primary cause of global warming.
There are disagreements among historians as to how much the Industrial Revolution increased the women's labor force. However, we do know that within certain occupations, gender roles changed. We also know that the gender role changes were different for working-class women as opposed to women in the bourgeoisie.
One of those occupations in which gender roles were changed for working-class women is the textile industry. Prior to industrialization, hand spinning to create textiles was a dominantly female occupation. However, with the creation of new textile machinery during the revolution, hand spinning was no longer used, leaving many women unemployed. With the development of textile factories, textile machinery gave many women employment opportunities again, but such machinery further created gender divisions. Women were considered strong enough to be able to use the spinning jenny and water frame, but only men participated in mule spinning. Historians believe that 57% of women worked in factories, mostly in the textile industry. In addition to transitions in gender roles among the textile industry, the medical industry is a second industry in which roles significantly changed. Women had been primarily responsible for medical care over the centuries. However, during the Industrial Revolution, medical care became a professionalized occupation, and only men were admitted into the study of medicine; therefore, medicine became a dominantly male occupation.
Industrialization also increased the need for women to work since, though industrialization produced significant profits, business owners paid very low wages in order to get the most out of their profits. Low earnings led to an increased number of both women and children working. Married women were needed to work as well as unmarried women in order to help provide enough income for their families. Historians report that 66% of married working-class women worked outside of the home in England between 1787 and 1815.
The bourgeoisie also experienced changes in gender roles, but those changes were the exact opposite of those in the working class. In the working class, married women needed to work alongside men to support their families. Among the bourgeoisie, at the very start of industrialization, women had been encouraged to help their husbands run their enterprises, and women left childcare to nannies and wet-nurses. However, as industrialization became more mechanized and dangerous, bourgeoisie women were encouraged to remain at home while the men went off to work, thereby creating the gender roles fought against by the women's liberation movement.
Hence, industrialization changed society in many ways. It impacted the environment and created changes in gender roles among both the working class and the bourgeoisie.