Looking at the book Triangle, how did the tragedy of the Triangle fire ironically advance the role of women in American society?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire advanced the role of women in American society because it helped to give energy to the Progressive movement.  As the Progressives gained more power, women also gained more power.  This was ironic because the Triangle fire was something that showed how weak this particular group of women were and yet it ended up advancing the role of women in the long term.

The Triangle fire was a very important moment in the Progressive Era because it helped to serve as a catalyst.  Before the fire, people (many of them women) had been fighting to improve working conditions in factories like the Triangle factory.  However, their efforts had not been met with much success.  The fire made the public pay attention and it emphasized to them how bad conditions were in the factories.  As the public came to have more sympathy for the factory workers, the Progressive movement as a whole benefited.

The Progressive movement advanced the role of women in American society in at least two ways.  First, it gave many women opportunities to engage in political action.  Many of the activists in the various aspects of the Progressive movement were female.  As the movement gained momentum, the female activists became more visible and more important.  This helped to advance the role of women.  Second, one of the goals of the Progressive movement was greater rights for women.  It was the Progressive movement that helped to bring about the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.  Clearly, this was a major step in advancing the role of women in American society.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire helped to push the Progressive movement forward and helped the Progressives achieve their goals.  Many of the Progressive activists were women and one of the goals of the Progressives was to give women more rights and a larger role in American society.  By helping the Progressive movement succeed, the fire also helped advance the role of women in the United States.

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