"Women's work" referred to work that was considered suitable for women and usually included the undervalued and unpaid labor of housekeeping and child-rearing. As recently as the 1960s, most women were limited to certain fields: paid domestic work, nursing, teaching, and secretarial work. Women who worked in alternative fields often didn’t get credit for their work. These examples from the Smithsonian collections prove women’s work is any work that women want to do!

Collection Objects

Discover the stories behind these objects or browse other collection items related to women and their work.

Conversation Kit



Smithsonian American Women book cover.

Smithsonian American Women

Remarkable objects and stories of strength, ingenuity, and vision from the National Collection

Smithsonian American Women book cover.