The phrase “women’s work” was used to describe the work that women were considered “suitable” for—typically undervalued unpaid housekeeping and child-rearing. As recently as the 1960s most women were limited to certain fields: paid domestic work, nursing, teaching, secretarial work. Women who worked in alternate 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.


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.