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The Irish-American Dream

            Life for the Irish women crossing the Atlantic in search of better means of living was treacherous to say the least. With the infamous potato famine wreaking havoc back home, the United States, having far better economic opportunities than Ireland, became home to the largest independent female migration in American history. By the nineteenth century, industrialization was in full swing, as were the gender roles inaugurated by the historical turning point; but those gender ideals were short lived as female Irish immigrants flooded American streets in search of "men's" work. Due to the prolific employment opportunities afforded to female Irish immigrants by the swift uprising of industrialization in the United States, Irish women became financially self-reliant and independent resulting in many of them taking on more "male-like" roles in their households such as being the primary "bread-winners". That being said, it was obvious that the paramount reasons Irish women came to America were for the economic opportunities, as well as bettering the lives of their families; whether it be the ones they could afford to bring along with them, or the ones battling the damning famine back home in Ireland. In the book "Erin's Daughters in America" by Hasia R. Diner, Diner paints a picture of what life was really like for these immigrants, and how the Irish and American cultures clashed. "Because they [the Irish] adhered to a tradition whereby women functioned apart from men, they [Irish women] could take advantage of the expanding American urban economy, which offered a wide range of opportunities for unskilled, unmarried women in the work force." (Diner, pg.70). The Irish culture, prominently featuring gender segmentation and the belief that women are to have social roles unconstrained to men, allowed the women to avail themselves of the job opportunities in America, as Diner so clearly states in chapter four, "The structure of the American job market as it translated into opportunities for the unskilled and uneducated tended initially to favor the Irish immigrant woman over the man.

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